How to experience Tokyo like a local

07 Dec 2018 in In immersion

At Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka, you’ll see the city like never before.

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The old couple on the other side of the counter are serving up some of the crispest, freshest and fullest-flavoured tempura you’ve ever tasted.

tempura

As they chop, batter and fry vegetables and fish in front of you, they cheerfully tell you about their 40-year old business, about their traditional cooking methods, about the local area of Otsuka in the north of Tokyo.

Their restaurant is homely and extremely small. There’s barely room for 15 people and the menu is entirely in Japanese.

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This is authentic Japan, old-fashioned hospitality from another era, the kind of evening few tourists ever get to experience. And this is exactly what you can expect when you stay at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka.

Insider knowledge

Launched earlier in 2018, the OMO brand offers an original concept: discover the city as only locals know it.

How?

By opening hotels in lesser-known urban areas and tapping into the knowledge of neighbourhood experts.

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Situated just a 15-minute walk from the bustle of Ikebukuro, Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka is at the heart of Otsuka, an area that is little-known even to most Tokyoites. It’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets – and during your stay, you’ll get a chance to discover it thanks to the hotel’s local guides.

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This is a place of narrow streets lined with small izakaya, sake joints and specialist restaurants. It’s home to one of Tokyo’s two remaining tram lines, which you can see from the hotel.

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And, unlike Tokyo’s traffic-filled centre, the area is calm and full of old-worldly charm.

Yet the capital’s hyper-modernity is never far away: the high-speed Yamanote line is just a 2-minute walk from Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka, and the hotel itself is the epitome of modernist Japanese design.

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As a bonus, it’s eminently affordable.

Social space

When you step out of the elevator into the fourth-floor reception area, you immediately have a feeling of space and urban cool.

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The reception is in the middle of an area dedicated to meeting, chatting, eating and drinking. There’s a café-bar (where breakfast is served), a large area filled with expansive low couches, and a dining/working area centred around an enormous wooden table.

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OMO5-bar

Plus a window-side counter that’s perfect for people-watching. It’s all open plan, with a few bookshelves creating subtle separations.

Functional, cosy, comfortable

Your room is Japanese minimalism at its best thanks to high ceilings, big panoramic windows and a studiously uncluttered décor.

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The design is based on a yagura, a traditional wooden tower with the bed located on an upper mezzanine level accessible via a few steps.

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Underneath is a large, low sofa adorned with multiple cushions. Storage is provided under the steps, a modern twist on the box staircases used in the Edo Period.

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The contemporary vibe of the room is perfectly married with touches of classic Japan: tatami mats on the floor, a deep bathtub in the bathroom, and, of course, a Toto toilet.

OMO Ranger experience

The originality of OMO is not just its off-the-beaten-track location, but also its local guides known as OMO Rangers, who will take you places you would probably never dare to go.

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Entering a local sake bar or a tiny restaurant can be intimidating if the menu is only in Japanese and there are no other foreigners inside. But this is precisely what awaits you with the 5 Ranger experiences at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka.

For a guided tour of the Otsuka neighbourhood, sign up with OMO Ranger Green. You’ll get tips on the best places to eat, shop and sightsee.

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The other OMO Rangers are all about sampling the local dining and nightlife, with groups limited to just 4 people.

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With OMO Red, you’re in for a sake bar crawl, stopping off at small drinking dens such as Yodare, which offers sake from all over Japan.

night-life-rangers

Or how about sampling some of the area’s traditional Showa-style eateries with OMO Yellow? You’ll stop for tastings in tiny family-run restaurants specializing in tempura, fish or onigiri rice balls.

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Other options include a tour of Otsuka’s contemporary restaurants or a chance to live it up with the nightlife knowhow of OMO Purple.

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Each time, your host will act as your intermediary, introducing you to the places, presenting the food or drink and acting as translator so you can get to know the people and their stories.

These are the kind of places you need a local to take you. The kind of places that are not in guidebooks. And the kind of experience that makes Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka such a unique place to stay.

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