Thursday, September 24, 2015


Feel like traveling?  (I don't -- my life as a dancer was the life of a traveling salesperson and I have been in Japan -- tiny room, lonely, isolated by the language.)

Even so, the newly opened  72 room "Henn na Hotel" (the name means Weird hotel) intrigued me. It's in Sasebo, Japan, near Nagasaki, that is s a bustling city again, completely rebuilt since our country nearly destroyed it with an Atomic bomb, in august 1945.

Weird?  Yes, all the employees are robots. (Specs on this hotel reveal that ten human employees are on duty behind the scenes, night and day, to keep the robots operating efficiently and handle any emergency.)

According to reports, the strangeness hits you the moment you enter.
A receptionist immediately welcomes you. She's amazingly real looking, and good-looking. She carries on a friendly, gracious conversation, responding to what you say (about your trip, the state of your appetite, and where you are from), as she escorts you to the registration desk, and three identical, pretty-faced clerks who look like school girls.

The center schoolgirl, her unblinking eyes connecting with yours, explains that a single is $77, (she quotes the price in yen, then in US dollars), a double is $80 to $100 a night. The other two girls, with unblinking eyes, seem to be speaking with her.

It's weird. At times the school girl seems to be an animatronic dinosaur.  (The growling dinosaur creature seems to know what you told the receptionist, as well as the schoolgirl.) As the dinosaur announces the price that you mentioned, and a room number, a trolley appears with your luggage on it. A computer toneless voice tells you "follow me, please."

You are ushered to your room by this porter-trolley. (Loud in your mind is the feeling you are all alone in this strange hotel -- if there are other guests, you don't see them or any other robots.)

Entering your room, a small robot greets you, introduces itself as "Tuly," and acquaints you with the various electronic conveniences -- an alarm clock you can set, the lighting controls, and the heat sensing unit that will adjust the room heat based on your body temperature.

Announcing "Food service department is open," Tuly escorts you to an elevator. The elevator door opens into a small dining area, A robot presents you with a menu. As the bot serves you, you note another couple seated at one of the other three tables. They are being served by another robot.

There is no sound, no conversation in the dining area. You can't help wondering if the couple at the other table are robots. Were they put there to make you feel more comfortable?

No doubt about it, your vacation is a visit to a strange new world.  This is the video that the hotel sends out to prepare you for a somewhat perturbing, somewhat  amusing adventure into the future. Would I recommend it?

I think you need to take a good look at this video and imagine yourself in this world where there are only robots to relate to --  you can answer that question for yourself. That's what I did. I can only say -- I am glad to be back in my own world with humans.


Larry Enright said...

Okay, this is definitely weird. Count me in!!!

Carola said...

Fascinating! Can you find a human being if whatever you need to ask is not programmed into the robots?

Al Leblanc said...

Em: Interesting - thanks for sharing ! Seems to me Humans need at least Another Human to Welcome them and give them options in selecting robotic services. Prices seem especially reasonable. Have stayed at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo (a little expensive).

Orianne said...

A great post, thank you for sharing Emily, and I wish you and your family a huge weekend:)