How has Shibuya changed since your time there as a teenager?
I grew up in Shibuya, which has always been one of Tokyo’s most on-the-pulse neighborhoods in terms of music, food, fashion, and cultural output. It’s less lively now compared to old times, though, which is part of the reason I decided to open a hotel. In my teenage years, I witnessed the explosion of hip-hop and the so-called “Shibuya Casual” street style that I also played a part in creating—and I want to reignite the neighborhood’s creative embers with Trunk.
What challenges did you face while creating the hotel and how did you overcome them?
When we started work on Trunk, we decided not to have manuals for services and operations. I understand that manuals make everything easier, but I trust our employees and encourage them to solve problems by themselves. That requires high skills and a vivid imagination. It is difficult to find people with such talents but so far it seems to be working well.
What lessons has your bridal business shown you?
Well, weddings are always very special events, and it often requires perfectionism. Our wedding planners usually have between five and ten meetings with the couple, and it’s this idea of really listening to what people want that has guided the ethos at Trunk. The wedding industry is also a competitive one, so it’s imperative to stand out. We created our own “private house wedding” style that was new to Japan back in the day and has proven very successful. I’m trying to cultivate fresh demand.
When you’re not transforming Tokyo’s approach to hospitality, what do you do?
On my days off I spend a lot of time with my family. I have a son and daughter and I enjoy traveling with them, playing games, cooking, and doing sports together. My son just started surfing and kickboxing and it’s fun to explore new things with him as he gets bigger. I think keeping a good relationship with one’s family requires a certain kind of creativity and imagination.