Contents Tourism – The New Otani Hotel

In the next of my posts on contents tourism (if you don’t know what contents tourism is, please see my post about Tanigawa and Ichi-no-kurasawa), I will be focussing on The New Otani hotel in Tokyo.

As I wrote in my ‘postcard’ on the International Journal of Contents Tourism site…

Much of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (Gilbert 1967) was filmed in Japan. Whilst Himeji Castle is perhaps the most iconic and well-known of the sites to feature in the film, perhaps the easiest for many tourists to Japan to visit is the site of Ōsato Chemicals, for it is actually a hotel, the New Ōtani, so it is possible to stay there. Although the name of Ōsato is not there, and you are unlikely to see a helicopter land on top or even spot a white sports car speeding around the car park, the distinctive shape of the building is still recognisable to any Bond fan.

As I wrote, You Only Live Twice, which, I don’t care what others think, is still one of my top 3 films… not necessarily for the quality of the film alone itself, but due to the nostalgia. Growing up in the UK in the 1970s, there weren’t many TV channels and movies were rarely shown. We got a video machine quite early on and one of the three films that I recorded and watched most was You Only Live Twice. I used to watch one of these films, almost religiously, every Sunday. The other two make up the rest of my Top 3 movies and I’ll discuss them in other posts (although I’ve yet to get to where one of them was filmed) – see Content Tourism Jaws/Martha’s Vineyard and Contents Tourism – Zulu.

Little could I have known as a child that I would go on to study Japanese at university and regularly visit Japan. I have been to a few of the places that feature in You Only Live Twice, and will write about another two in other posts, and in one case deliberately sought out the location because of it being in the film. It was different with the New Otani Hotel.

I went out to Japan for a short trip in May 2000 and the place where we were put up was the New Otani. I cannot remember now if by that time (I first visited Japan in 1989), I had seen the hotel from the outside before or not. I think not. I seem to remember being surprised that it was still recognisable as Osato Chemicals from You Only Live Twice. As it was before I had a digital camera, I don’t have any photographs to hand that are easy to post here, and, to be honest, I don’t remember a whole load of the stay there now.

Having subsequently read books about the film and posts (a great starting point is about the filming, I have a good idea about how the hotel and gardens were used. It was great to see them.

But that’s not the end of the story.

There is a reason why this post is called New Otani Hotel rather than Osato Chemicals as it was in the International Journal of Contents Tourism “postcard”. It’s because I used the hotel, albeit with a different name, the Shin Oyama Hotel (on the basis that it had been taken over and now run by another organisation) in my first novel Hijacking Japan. I even include discussion of You Only Live Twice in there. By the time I finally got round to writing that part of the novel (it all took longer than planned & the book became longer than originally planned), I couldn’t remember what the hotel was like. So, in January 2013, as part of a trip to Japan, I stayed there again. This time I did get digital pictures.

Most of the pictures I took, however, were of the inside of the hotel and the view from my room to help me make sure, when I go back to the UK, I could add the necessary details to my book (although it’s set in a fictional hotel that just happened to be used in the filming of You Only Live Twice).

See my other posts relating to Contents Tourism, by clicking here.

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