Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten



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Its History Started in 1899
The first innkeeper of Ryumeikan was Hamada Uhei. He was the first-born son and the fourth-generation heir of Naguraya, a Japanese-style inn that had been in business in Nihonbashi Muromachi, Tokyo, since the Edo period (1603-1867). However, Naguraya was inherited by the husband of his elder sister, so in 1899 Uhei founded another inn named Ryumeikan as a branch of Naguraya in Minami Kougacho (currently Kanda Surugadai), Kanda-ku, Tokyo. The inn was apparently named after his elder sister (Ryu is a variation of the pronunciation of her name Tatsu) and the original inn (Mei is a variation of the pronunciation of "Na"guraya).
All the rooms in the two-story building faced the central garden. The sophisticated Japanese-style architecture attracted educated people prominent figures from every sector of society and was introduced in the magazines of those days. All fixtures and tasteful furniture were carefully selected. Because Uhei always loved something new, he built a Western-style building in a corner of the garden, hired a chef, and served Western-style cuisine. Both he and his wife Uta devoted themselves to the management of the inn. Business grew steadily and expanded enough to open the Gofukubashi and Sarugakucho branches in the early Taisho period (1912-1926).


Overcoming the Great Kanto Earthquake
Hamada Jiro (former name Takahisa Jiro) inherited the family business as the second generation in 1918. In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake took place. Located in a secluded area surrounded by only a few buildings, Ryumeikan was thought to escape the fire, but the force of the fire was more than anyone expected. Not long after reconstruction as a three-story building, the Sarugakucho branch was burned down as the main building in Minami Kougacho as did another branch in Gofukubashi. Thus, all three inns were lost to fire. Jiro just stood at the ruins and had to stand the unbearable.
After the Earthquake, the first thing they had to do was to raise money for reconstruction. Jiro and his mother-in-law Uta, visited Mr. Honma, one of their loyal customers in Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture, in order to ask for financial help. He accepted the request willingly and offered an interest-free loan without a fixed date for settlement. Without this loan, today's Ryumeikan would not exist. Jiro and all the employees worked hard to reciprocate his favors and paid the loan off before World War II.


Surviving the chaotic times after World War II
The Showa period started in 1926 in the midst of the rehabilitation after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The buildings damaged by the Earthquake were rebuilt any way but business was in a slump. It was the beginning of hard times for Ryumeikan. It was once decided that the Olympic Games would be held in Japan and we built a new two-story building with eight guest rooms. However, the situation was steadily moving toward war and the Games were cancelled.
Finally, World War II broke out. In the autumn of 1944, eight guest rooms and a hall in the new building of Ryumeikan were lent to the government as the official residence of the Ministry of Greater East Asia. The war situation was becoming worse and worse and the Gofukubashi branch, Naguraya Inn, and Chiyoda Inn (with strong ties to Ryumeikan) burned in an air raid in the spring of 1945. Ryumeikan accepted bombed-out people as well as our relatives and acquaintances. Fortunately, the main building of Ryumeikan did not suffer damage from the war when the war ended.
Determined not to be involved in the black market during and after the war, Ryumeikan had difficulty procuring food. We caused some inconvenience to our guests. The sense of value of this time went through a sudden change due to the defeat. Postwar reconstruction meant reconstruction of the Gofukubashi branch for us, and we made a new start. When we realized it in 1948, though it was a humble success, we welcomed Hamada Takashi (former name Nomoto Takashi) as the third-generation heir.


To be a Long-Established Hotel in a New Era
In 1973 when Japan's high-growth period matured, we were determined to rebuild the main building of Ryumeikan, which was very familiar to us, to be a high-rise building in consideration of future business. This is the greatest determination of Takashi, the third generation. After three years, the building was completed. New business developed here from the end of the Showa period (1926-1989) to the Heisei period (1989-), including the Roppongi Hanagoyomi restaurant. In 1995, Hamada Akio assumed office as the fourth-generation president. He wanted to apply the inherited tradition and sincerity to his business from a new and fresh point of view and started a project to reconstruct Yaesu Ryumeikan. He assumed the office of chairman in September 2005 and his younger brother Hamada Toshio took over as president. The project was handed over and the new Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo will open in June 2009.
On the site of Ryumeikan, an Enju (Japanese pagoda) tree has grown since ancient times. It was burned and damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake but soon put forth new leaves, demonstrating its powerful vitality. The new hotel was designed to avoid cutting this tree.