HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA - A Unique Hotel in the Shitamachi Area Near Haneda Airport
Interested in getting a taste of traditional Japan before going back home? HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA, opened in April 2019, provides a comfortable place to stay in Kamata. Located quite close to Haneda Airport, Kamata once flourished as a workshop town in a "shitamachi" area, a traditional neighborhood filled with artisans and craftsmen. Even today, it retains much of its past, which the hotel has incorporated into their design. Keep reading to see how staying at the hotel will give you the unique opportunity to experience the shitamachi atmosphere and lifestyle of the craftsmen!
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*This article was made in collaboration with HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA.
About the Shitamachi Area of Kamata
Kamata is located in Ota Ward, which is in the Keihin Industrial Zone in Tokyo's southeastern area. During the Taisho era (1912 - 1926), this area was known for the famous Japanese movie company Shochiku setting up its studio here. However, due to an air-raid during the Pacific War, part of the area was burned, and it was then transformed into an industrial region following World World II. During its golden age, there were over 9,000 small-scale workshops here, but as the industrial structure and the times have changed, these factories have been disappearing, and only a third of the workshops are left over today.
Grand Opening of HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA
HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA is designed off the concept of "a hotel that values experiences." The hotel expresses the unique culture of the local workshops by combining innovative interior designs with an industrial feel and manufacturing equipment used by local craftsmen. They have created a space in which customers can experience the beauty of traditions in a hotel that almost takes on a local workshop museum atmosphere.
Easy Access! 8-Minute Train Ride from Haneda Airport
There are 2 stations in Kamata that are connected to Shinagawa and Yokohama: JR Kamata Station and Keikyu Kamata Station. It only takes 8 minutes from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station (Haneda Airport) to Keikyu Kamata Station on the Keikyu Airport Line. HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA is located in a quiet residential area by the East Exit of Keikyu Kamata Station. It's only a 3-minute walk from the station, so its location is very convenient for travelers carrying luggage with them.
A Stylish Design Combined with the Local Workshop Scene
In order to reflect the history of Kamata's industrial background, the hotel has boldly incorporated designs that are rarely used in other hotel interiors, such as manufacturing materials and machinery. In addition to the photos of the local workshops decorating the lobby on the 1st floor, the outer wall is covered in white mesh steel, a lathe that was used in a local workshop is displayed in the entrance, the expanded metal and Galvalume steel sheets often only utilized outdoors appear extensively in the lobby ceiling and hallways, and the headboards in the guestrooms and the inside of the building walls are made out of coniferous plywood. Even in the smallest design details of the hotel's interior, guests can see and experience the local craftsmen's skills and feelings.
Although the hotel's core is based on a simple industrial-style theme, wood is widely integrated into the architecture and matches well with the metal, exuding a warm atmosphere within the modern space.
Even in the floor numbers, which people don't pay much attention to, they've added a touch of creative originality. These numbers were designed from a collaboration with over 10 local workshops, and is a part that depicts the manufacturing skills of the artisans involved: "digging," "whittling," "polishing," and "bending." Each floor depicts a different type of skill. For instance, the theme of the 6th floor is "bending" - the number 6 was created by combining 3 skills - "bending," "welding," and "glass bead blasting and polishing."
There's a model and explanation of each of these skills in the 1st floor lobby, so you can stop by and take your time admiring these details.
*Please refrain from touching the floor numbers. We received special permission from the hotel to touch these numbers for the photo.
Easy Check-In Machine
You can check-in and check-out using the 2 automatic fare adjustment machines in the lobby. When you get to the hotel for check-in, select "Check-In" and follow the instructions on the screen by filling out your name and phone number. After you scan your passport, your room card will be issued to you immediately. The machine can be changed into Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), so it's really easy to navigate for tourists from abroad!
Comfortable Stay with Apple TV and UNIQLO Pajamas!
HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA has 4 types of guest rooms: single, double, twin, and triple rooms. When you enter the room, you'll find UNIQLO pajamas laid out on top of the bed for you to use.
The rooms include basic everyday necessities such as a refrigerator, a security deposit, a kettle, an alarm clock, a desk, an air purifier with a humidifier function, and a negative ion hair dryer. They also have entertainment items like bluetooth speakers and an Apple TV. The hotel has made sure to pay attention to small details in the room facilities, which can be seen in the metal panel with USB slots by the pillows, the metal clothes hangers, the stainless steel pipes on which the TV is propped, and the wall panels made with wood blocks and covered in cement. Whether it's the public space or the private guest room, every part of the hotel has naturally joined together traditional and modern aspects, expressing the special local characteristics of Kamata and the local culture.
Japanese and Western Buffet - Experience the Food Culture Through Breakfast
In addition to the art and industry fusion space, guests can also experience the food culture of the craftsmen through meals. In the center of EXPRESS CAFE, the open cafe on the 1st floor, there is a long wooden table that can seat up to 20 people. On top of this table, there is a lamp made out of a 6m-long iron plate folded in half. The cafe hours are from 10:00 am to midnight, and it acts as a space for guests to work, sort out their travel plans, and interact with other guests.
The breakfast is buffet-style, serving Western and Japanese cuisine. You can pile up your "bento box" with any of your favorite foods and carry it back to your room to eat. You can enjoy the authentic food culture of the local people in Kamata with rice balls made with Kamata's specialty food, seaweed, and fukamushi-cha (deep-steamed tea) from Honanchasou, a tea shop with a long history of 90 years.
Nearby Sightseeing Spots
Cafe ig is located a 1 minute walk from HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS. The exterior isn't overly flashy, and its glass doors framed with wood panels warmly welcome you in. The cafe is bright and open, and many locals and guests at the hotel come here for lunch.
Hayashi rice (stewed beef and onions with rice), spicy curry rice, shogayaki (stir-fried pork and ginger) set meals, napolitan (type of Japanese-style pasta) lunch... Like the shop interior, the meals are simple, but they're authentic and rich in flavor.
Don't forget the delicious, handmade dessert! The Homemade Baked Pudding is served in a cute glass plate, and the fragrance of the burnt caramel combined with the rich flavor of the pudding is so good, it wouldn't be an overstatement to say that this is the cafe's signature dish! The extremely moist cheesecake and chocolate brownie garnished with whipped cream are also recommended.
Marenoya is a daigakuimo (candied sweet potato) specialty shop within a remodeled garage that was born from the owner's passionate love for sweet potatoes. The small wooden shelf is lined with many items, including daigakuimo (square shaped types and thinly sliced types), fukashi-imo (steamed sweet potatoes), and pastries made with sweet potatoes. They use only the best sweet potatoes of the season, such as Beni Satsuma from Kagoshima Prefecture, Naruto Kintoki from Tokushima Prefecture, and a variety of sweet potatoes from Ibaraki and Chiba Prefecture.
The daigakuimo here are made with no food additives so you can taste the natural flavor of the sweet potatoes. There's a delicate note of sweetness within the sweet potatoes' simplicity, and the flavor is further elevated by the crispy outside. With the thinly sliced daigakuimo, you'll be able to enjoy the same delicious taste with a new texture. Many of the locals come by bicycle to buy the snack from this popular store, which has captured the hearts of many people with its simple and addictive taste.
Bathhouses are an indispensable part of the lives of Japanese people. If you're visiting Ota Ward, an area that boasts vast number of bathhouses and onsen (hot springs), you absolutely must go to a bathhouse to refresh both your body and mind! Hasunuma Onsen is a hot spring facility that was established 80 years ago. In 2017, it underwent a complete renewal with a Taisho-style concept that was based off Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's most popular hot spring resorts.
When you enter the building, the first thing you'll see is the painting of Mt. Fuji by Kiyoto Maruyama, a famous Japanese bathhouse mural painter. The arched stained glass windows, the refined faucet with a lion head carving, the vivid Japanese painting above the washing area, the wooden lockers, and the chandeliers all bring about a wonderfully retro atmosphere.
There are 3 types of baths: natural onsen, carbonic acid onsen, and a natural cold water onsen. The cold water onsen uses 100% free-flowing natural spring water, which is particularly rare to find in bathhouses. The hot water is a light yellowish-brown, and the spring source is a sodium chloride, hydrogen carbonate spring well. The water is said to have many effects, such as enriching your skin and soothing fatigue, sore muscles, joint pain, chronic skin conditions, and stiff shoulders.
When you finish soaking in the bath, you'll be able to relax with a classic bottle of milk coffee, and even full fat milk and cider made with the famous water from Misato, Akita. The cider comes in lemon, apple, grape, and honey flavors, and you won't be able to find any of these sold anywhere else in Tokyo, so it's highly recommended!
Make some time in your schedule and jump back in time to relax in this retro space with the natural hot springs and refreshing drinks!
Shopping Street Around Kamata Station
There are roughly 200 stores within the shopping street by the east and west exits of Kamata Station. These shops range from large chain stores to small businesses bursting with unique flair. You'll be able to find practically anything you could ever hope for, whether it's fresh groceries, 100 yen stores, miscellaneous goods, clothing, furniture, cosmetics, or restaurants. The fact that this street offers low, reasonable prices for a wide variety of products is another great perk! Come here to get some shopping done and interact with the locals while you're at it!
Tokyu Plaza Kamata's Rooftop Ferris Wheel
At first glance, Tokyu Plaza Kamata may look like a typical building, but the terrace on the top floor of the building will lead you to a completely different world. This is where you'll find the Shiawase no Kanransha (Ferris Wheel of Happiness), the one and only rooftop Ferris wheel in Tokyo. The gondolas are very cute, as they're shaped to look like upside-down flowers. There are 9 in total and while the Ferris wheel is on the smaller side, it's location on the 8th floor roof means you'll still get a stunning view of the area.
This rooftop Ferris wheel was built in 1968 and has entertained many of the local residents of Kamata. The attraction was almost closed down at one point, but with the locals' fierce support, it was freshly colored and regained popularity. Even now, it remains a symbol of Kamata.
Ota City Tourist Information Center
If you want to learn more about sightseeing information in Ota, visit the Ota City Tourist Information Center (Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese support available) on the 2nd floor of Keikyu Kamata Station. They offer free and paid courses where you can experience many aspects of Japanese culture, including calligraphy, tea ceremony, monkiri asobi (paper cutting), and kimono.
Here, you can pick from a wide variety of colorful yukata and kimono to try on (*). You can take pictures with your friends after you dress up, and you can even walk to the shrine nearby with the staff if you choose the paid course. (However, the shrine visiting course is temporarily unavailable as the shrine precinct is currently undergoing renovations)
(*) There is a free KIMONO Quick Try-On Activity (no reservations required) and a paid Kimono Experience with a specialist (reservations required).
HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA is located just an 8-minute train ride from Haneda Airport, one of the entranceways into Tokyo. This comfortable hotel offers not just extremely convenient transportation options, but it also brings together modern themes with a beautiful, traditional interior aesthetic leveraged by the local workshop culture and the bento-style food culture of the local craftsmen.
In addition, with the lively shopping street bursting with shitamachi culture, restaurants, izakaya (Japanese pub), and bathhouses and onsen all located closeby, this makes for the perfect place to stay in Tokyo!
Next time you land in Japan at Haneda Airport (or even when you're leaving Japan to go home from Haneda Airport), stay at HOTEL ORIENTAL EXPRESS TOKYO KAMATA and explore Kamata and it's local shitamachi culture!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.