The Yomiuri ShimbunTokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the iconic Ginza commercial district, is planning new regulations that would limit the number of capsule hotels that can be built in the area, according to sources.
With more foreign visitors expected as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics approach, Zen Ginza Kai — an alliance of local businesses, neighborhood associations and others — asked the ward government to help “preserve Ginza’s style.” Specific rules could be drawn up by the ward as early as March.
The regulations are expected to be implemented by changing the district plan that governs the use of structures. The leading plan would ban new facilities categorized by the Inns and Hotels Law as “common lodging houses,” which includes capsule hotels.
The ward plans to revise the relevant ordinances after consulting an advisory panel. The new rules would apply to the entire Ginza district from Ginza 1-chome to 8-chome.
“I don’t know of any instance of restricting capsule hotels in a specific area,” said an official of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, which has jurisdiction over the City Planning Law.
Demand is rising for affordable accommodation in Ginza, which is popular with foreign tourists, according to the ward and other sources.
In July 2015, a capsule hotel billing itself as “the first in the Ginza district” opened.
The company that manages the hotel said it has about 230 capsules and is frequented by foreign travelers and young businessmen.
“We avoided the word ‘capsule’ in the hotel’s name and made other changes so as not to damage Ginza’s style,” a company spokesperson said.
When another capsule hotel opened in the district in the autumn of 2016, Zen Ginza Kai reached an agreement with the company that manages it to not use the words “capsule hotel,” to adopt a “high-class” style and to not list the room rates on the first-floor directory.
Facilities being upgraded
Some capsule hotels have recently made changes to attract more female customers, such as creating women-only floors and providing a rich selection of bath goods. Facilities that have been upgraded both inside and outside are becoming more common.
However, unlike business hotels, “common lodging house” facilities are not required to have lobbies. And since there is little space inside, there are concerns about customers becoming rowdy outside the facilities.
For this reason, “If the number of capsule hotels increases, it could harm Ginza’s historical and cultural atmosphere,” a representative of the group said, explaining why they consulted the ward about regulations.
Demand for hotels is rising in central Tokyo as the Olympics and Paralympics approach.
“We intend to listen closely to the views of local parties when considering rules that would be effective in Ginza,” said an official of the ward’s local development department.