Japan’s biggest wedding company wants to revamp the hotel business

The hotel hosts a rooftop chapel.
Courtesy of Trunk(House)

Weddings are big business in Japan, but one of Japan’s largest wedding companies is looking to form a union between social responsibility and nuptial celebrations at a new group of boutique hotels.

Tokyo’s hotel scene is dominated by chains and high-rises, which makes Trunk (Hotel) in Shibuya stand out even more. The 15-room boutique hotel is a rarity in terms of its small scale. Unlike many of the other looming towers that dominate the landscape, it melds into the low-slung neighborhood, a well-known shopping and design district.

Trunk (Hotel) is the newest project by Yoshitaka Nojiri, founder of Take & Give Needs, one of Japan’s largest wedding companies. The original vision for the hotel revolved around marriage ceremonies—there’s a chapel on the rooftop—but the focus is now on a concept dubbed “socializing,” which aims to instill a greater sense of well-being in guests. As a resident of Shibuya, Nojiri wanted to serve the neighborhood and support local businesses with this project.

The back wall of the bar is made of wood salvaged from old houses.
Courtesy of Trunk(House)

It’s a lofty concept for a hotel, but it’s supported by Trunk’s luxurious environs. The spacious downstairs lobby serves as a gallery for sustainable artwork: Hanging mobiles of whales and fish, made from upcycled cardboard, twirled overhead during a previous exhibit. Behind the bar—which transitions from coffee to cocktails throughout the day—is a wall composed of wood salvaged from old houses. And the barstools were re-created from recycled wine corks.  

Sustainability is just one tenet of the hotel’s philosophy; the company donates a portion of proceeds to nonprofits every year—in total, about 1 million yen per organization—as a way to support and better the community. Recipients—such as the Special Olympics Nippon and Good Aging Yells, an LGBT advocacy group—follow Trunk’s philosophy of “socializing” and using business for good.

Kushi offers an assortment of skewers.
Courtesy of Trunk(House)

Socializing takes on a more traditional meaning in the aforementioned lobby. During the day, the tapping of keyboards and murmurings from meetings provide the soundtrack; come nighttime, the music—curated selections by local DJs—is turned up, and friends gather to catch up on their day over cocktails, wine, and beer. The open area serves as a living room for both Shibuya residents and hotel guests; during a recent stay on Halloween, couples from the neighborhood with their young costumed children gathered at Trunk for meet-ups and drinks before heading out to evening parties.

To ebb hunger as nighttime deepens, Kushi, which specializes in skewers, provides grilled snacks to pair with drinks, and diners spill onto the outdoor patio for a convivial bite. Trunk (Kitchen) provides more substantial fare with a Western-leaning menu, enhanced with Japanese ingredients.

Trunk’s Lifestyle store keeps its wares hyper-local, in pursuit of its mission to blend harmoniously with the neighborhood. Alongside giftable items like chocolates, sake, and wine, grab-and-go pastries, sandwiches, and onigiri serve Shibuya’s working community. Many of the items found throughout the hotel, all crafted by local artisans, are also for sale.

Locals and guests often gather on the patio to enjoy skewers and drinks.
Courtesy of Trunk(House)

Upstairs, the large suites and rooms provide a respite from the frenetic energy downstairs. The spaces are outfitted with furniture from local designers, many of whom work with materials such as wood and stone, to bring natural elements into the space. Soothing gray, white, and beige tones flow throughout the decor, establishing a calming ambiance.

Snacks (many of which are vegan and gluten-free) and other minibar essentials come from local producers. The sensuous bath products also come from nearby makers, and the cozy yet stylish robes invite lounging.

The larger suites again bring a social element into one’s stay. The Dining Suite, for example, boasts a large, open kitchen, built for entertaining. Designed to sleep anywhere from one to six guests, the apartment-like atmosphere cocoons visitors in luxury.

A tiny disco at the Trunk (House) property lends a party vibe to the space.
Courtesy of Trunk(House)

Based on the success of the Shibuya property, Trunk plans to open 10 new properties in the next 10 years, each with a different concept designed to integrate seamlessly with each specific neighborhood. The latest project, Trunk (House), which opened in August, is a converted geisha training house in the Kagurazaka neighborhood.

Pulling from the geisha arts of entertaining, the property is outfitted to host just one booking of up to four guests at a time, or can be rented out for parties. At this 70-year-old converted townhouse, guests can relax in the garden or unwind in the cypress bath, and an on-staff chef and butlers cater to guests’ needs. A small disco (yes, you read that correctly), complete with neon lighting and a disco ball, swings the festivities into multiple directions.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—The most anticipated books of 2020, according to Goodreads
—Why this 100% sustainable Icelandic sea salt is becoming a chef favorite
—The magic of the wedding industry’s most exclusive conference
—Just in time for Dry January: No-alcohol whiskey and gin alternatives
—The best travel destinations for every season of 2020
Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

Travel IndustryBooksSmarter ShoppingSports