|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Shukan Asahi 11/3
It was dark and steamy night last August, when a man was found murdered--his neck snapped as easily as one of those chocolate-covered "Pocky" pretzels---in the fifth-floor banquest room of Shinjuku's Keio Plaza Hotel,
But instead of dialing 110 to bring police rushing to the scene, several hundred paying hotel guests set out to track down his killer on their own.
This "Mystery Night," which began with a one-hour drama performed by professional actors, gave the amateur sleuths plenty of clues--and even more red herrings.
Was there a message pointing to the killer's identity concealed inside a roll of toilet paper in the lavatory?
Did some pills, arranged in the shape of a star on the restaurant table, reveal who the killer might be?
The guests had most of the night to figure it out; they returned to the banquest room at 4:00 a.m. to slap the handcuffs on who they thought was the killer.
More than seven-tenths correctly solved the whodunit.
"Mystery Night," performed on two nights in mid-August, brought to the Keio Plaza some 600 guests who paid 25,000 yen a head for the event, a twin room in which to collapse after it was all over, and breakfast the next morning.
According to Shukan Asahi, this is typical of the variety of experiments being conducted in recent years, as deluxe hotels seek ways to augment their revenues during these hard times.
That times are hard is an unescapable fact.
From a peak of 83.2 percent average room capacity in 1989, the peak year of the notorious "bubble economy," this figure fell to 69.8 percent in 1994.
At the end of their fiscal year last March,such world-famous hostelries as the Imperial Hotel, Hotel Okura and Hotel New Otani all reported revenues had declined for the past three years running, with the latter two institutions operating in the red.
Kazushi Sakai,general manager of the Tokyo ANA Hotel, tells Shukan Asahi,
"Hotels are always the first place to feel the effects of a dip in the economy, and the last ones to benefit from a recovery."
Whereas just a few years ago hotels were turning away business, they are now forced to come up with some innovative ways to attract paying customers to their guest rooms and restaurants.
Shukan Asahi gives these examples.
- During the past summer,the Ginza Tokyu Hotel offered a mug of draft beer in exchange for each unused telephone card presented by a customer.(The cards were then used for payment of the hotel's telephone bill.)
- The New Otani launched a "pajama plan,"in which female guests were presented with a choice from five patterns of sleepwear they could take home with them.
- As a part of its overnight package, the Ginza Tokyu Hotel from last May has offered a birds-eye tour of the city by helicopter. The price is a surprisingly affordable 19,500 yen.
- The Keio Plaza and ANA Hotels have made their lobbies available for wedding receptions. Japanese brides, apparently, enjoy being seen by strangers.("It makes them feel like a glamorous actress.")
- All-you-can-eat dessert buffets have become a big attraction at a number of major hotels and are especially popular with young women.
- The Shinagawa Prince hotel keeps the mini-refrigerators in its 3,008 rooms empty.Customers are free to patronize two convenience stores on the first floor and stock them with goodies.
According to the hotel, "We save on our labor costs merely by not having to have to use staff to check the contents of the refrigerators."
In addition to the above, Shukan Asahi reports the practice of discounting on room rates has also become rampant.
The Yokohama Grand International is even offering discounts based on the age of its guests.
Age 40 gets a 40 percent discount. For age 70, a 70 percent discount applies.
And if you're 110?
" Then the hotel pays you 10 percent to stay with us." came the reply.(MS)