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Robot staff make Japan's Henn na Hotels quirky and efficient

Labor-saving innovation keeps prices low and guests amused

Female robots welcome a guest at the reception desk of Henn na Hotel in Tokyo's Ginza district. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO The name offers guests at the recently opened Henn na Hotel in Ginza their first inkling that they are checking into accommodations unlike any other in Tokyo. Henn na means "strange" in Japanese and is a fitting moniker for a hotel run mostly by robots.

At first glance, the lobby looks like any other, with a front desk manned by three receptionists -- one man and two women. Upon closer examination, however, the latter prove to be extremely lifelike robots, with carefully made-up faces and immaculate hair. They even blink like a human would. The giveaway? Those blinks produce a noise like a camera shutter.

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