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Ochanomizu Hotel Shoryukan is a classic hotel located in Tokyo's Ochanomizu district. Originally a ryokan, this hotel preserves its elegant, traditional atmosphere and gives guests a chance to enjoy a casual, leisurely stay.
Welcome back to Tokyo Ryokan Stories! I’m Roza Akino, and I live and work in Japan. Thanks for joining me on my journey to explore the lesser-known inns and hotels in Tokyo!
Today I am visiting a hotel located in a neighborhood called Ochanomizu, which is known for its large population of students. Literally translated to mean “tea water,” the area got its name after becoming famous for the delicious water that came from a natural spring at a certain temple that became a favorite of a Tokugawa shogun.
I notice the Ochanomizu Hotel Shoryukan as I approach, a two-tone brown building with a beautiful calligraphy sign in front. I step inside and meet with Daisuke Kobayashi-san, the president and CEO of Ochanomizu Hotel Shoryukan.
The font desk with lights displaying traditional katagami
The lobby is simple, the windows decorated with evenly-spaced wooden panels. In front of me, a large glass case that holds a small omikoshi, a portable shrine that acts as a vehicle to carry the gods through the streets during a festival. Pieces of katagami (traditional patterns that are used for dying kimono) decorate the lighting fixtures behind the front desk.
We sit down at one of the side tables in the lobby, and Kobayashi-san begins his story.
The Ochanomizu neighborhood used to have over 100 small lodgings throughout the area. Shoryukan was started as an annex by Kobayashi-san’s grandmother in 1950, a small ryokan with only three rooms. At the time, Ochanomizu used to be an area where writers would hole up in their rooms to concentrate on their work, and even famous manga artist Osamu Tezuka came and stayed at the original Shoryukan.
In the same way that Kobayashi-san is the third-generation owner, the current hotel has also gone through three phases, transforming from a ryokan to a business hotel, and finally into a 42 room Wa-modern style hotel that incorporates aspects of traditional ryokan.
A washitsu (traditional Japanese style) room
Different from a regular business hotel, over half of Shoryukan’s rooms are traditional Japanese rooms with tatami mats. While all the rooms have their own bath (some rooms are shower-only) and toilet, the hotel also has a shared public bath as well, a common feature of ryokan.
The shared bath
The bath looks traditional, but it has a modern perk to it as well—a press of a button will activate strong jet streams, turning it into a hot tub. The men’s bath also features a sauna.
The lounge area
If you’ve ever gone to a public bath, you know that relaxing after the bath in your yukata is one of its joys. This lounge room right outside is just the place for that. There is a table where you can play a game of Go, a library of books and manga for you to browse at your leisure, and even a massage chair.
A single western-type room
Shoryukan offers 10 different types of rooms, so there is something for everyone. The Japanese-style single rooms are compact yet functional. The large Japanese-style rooms can accommodate multiple futons and are perfect for bigger families or families with small children.
The spa shower capsule
There are two special rooms that have a spa shower room featuring a rain shower and additional body shower head.
Traditional touches are incorporated into the room design
While Shoryukan is a hotel, I can see there has been an effort to incorporate touches of tradition in the details. Each of the rooms is named after a traditional Japanese color, with a sample of the color on the room placard.
This placard is made of washi paper, and also includes a piece of the same katagami pattern paper that I noticed behind the front desk.
While the Japanese-style rooms use futons for bedding, the western-style rooms here all use Serta mattresses to ensure a good night’s rest for their guests.
A special room with its own rotenburo and veranda
There are also two special rooms that have their own private hinoki rotenburo, a traditional Japanese open-air cypress bathtub. The room is a great option for celebrating special occasions—you can spend the entire day enjoying the bath and relaxing on the veranda with your loved one.
The decoration on the wall corresponds to the room name color
Breakfast is included for free as part of the service, and features a healthy meal with koshihikari rice sourced directly from a farm in Ibaraki. The small dishes that come with the breakfast are changed daily, and the eggs are made to order according to your preference—scrambled, sunny-side up, whatever you’d like! Free refills are available for the rice. The hotel wants to encourage a casual relaxing experience, so you are welcome to wear your slippers and yukata to breakfast.
The Ochanomizu area is famous for its many jazz cafés so it’s the perfect place for those who want to explore and enjoy the music, but there is actually a jazz café right on the first floor of the hotel that’s famous for something else: its curry. The café, Jazz Olympus, is also where the breakfast is served, but the curry it serves at lunch is what it’s really known for. This red curry is made with the café’s special recipe, and uses Abedori chicken sourced from Iwate prefecture. While currently Jazz Olympus is closed for dinner, it turns into a jazz bar in the evening and is a popular choice for jazz lovers due to vintage records played there.
The location of the hotel is pretty convenient as well, located within 5-7 minutes of five stations. It’s close to Tokyo Dome and the Nippon Budokan as well, convenient for those who love to watch concerts and sports.
In addition to jazz cafes, Ochanomizu is also known for its famous coffee houses, curry shops, and many shops that have stood the test of time. For those who are into vintage books, the Jinbocho area is full of old bookstores, most of which are devoted to a specific field. In fact, the hotel even has a pamphlet that lists the over 150 book shops and their specialties! For the music lovers, there are plenty of instrument shops in the area too.
The omikoshi displayed in the lobby
The area of Kanda is also close by, and famous for its festival, Kanda Matsuri. Kobayashi-san mentions that the small omikoshi displayed in front of the entrance to the lobby is one that is currently in use, stored here at the hotel and taken out during the festival. Because it is much smaller than most omikoshi, it is carried by children during the festival.
Four-leaf clover bookmarks and octopus origami, a play on words to help you pass your exams: octo-pass
If you want to explore a world of small shops and delicious curry, followed by a night of jazz, this is just the area for you. And for those who just want some extra luck for their studies? The front desk has some small souvenirs to give you that extra little push towards success.