March 18, 2017 12:30 am JST

Samurai theme park looks upmarket with castle hotel

$44,000 rooms in replica of 16th-century tower target wealthy Japanophiles

TOKYO -- A theme park modeled on Japan's Warring States period plans to turn a full-sized replica of a famous castle into a hotel aimed at well-off foreign visitors, seeking to revive its own fortunes by appealing to consumers of unique experiences.

The operator of Ise Azuchi Momoyama Culture Village in Mie Prefecture plans to open the park's centerpiece -- a reproduction of Azuchi Castle, originally built in the 16th century for warlord Oda Nobunaga -- for overnight stays in April 2018. Each of the six or seven rooms will likely set guests back about 5 million yen ($44,000) a night.

The company also plans to build a separate hotel with 200 to 300 rooms -- priced at a more affordable 10,000 yen or so per person -- and budget accommodations for at least 50 people.

A dining hall for tour groups will be converted next month into a space where visitors can dress up as samurai and ninja. The park operator will open a retail area in October with a high-end Japanese restaurant and an apparel store. The renovation is expected to cost a total of 10 billion yen.

Located south of Nagoya, the Ise area of Mie Prefecture enjoyed a tourism bump last year and drew more attention from foreign travelers thanks to the Group of Seven summit there. Yet annual attendance at the theme park has been stuck at around 80,000 in recent years. The operator hopes that the renovation will attract foreigners with an interest in Japanese culture.

(Nikkei)

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