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Thirty years ago, Sakura House and Sakura Hotel became one of the first accommodation facilities in Japan to provide foreigners with affordable and accessible living space without the need for understanding its complex system of apartment rental that typically involves security deposits, guarantors and pages of documents written only in Japanese.

Back then, “scrap and build” was the common way of construction in Japan, but Sakura House and Sakura Hotel, since its establishment, has been breathing new life into old buildings by renovating and reinforcing them. Many of their guests have appreciated this because it allows them to feel the buildings’ history and tradition.

However, it is not just accommodation that they offer. To make life easier for foreigners, “our multicultural staff members provide multilingual support whenever our guests face any troubles and make sure they feel comfortable and secure,” said Shogo Ochiai, assistant manager of resident relations. About a third of Sakura House and Sakura Hotel’s employees are foreigners, which helps the hotel relate to their customers’ needs.

Tristan David Geais, chief of resident relations, used to be a Sakura House resident. He said he received tips on life in Japan from Sakura House workers and other residents, and began to think “Why not be the one to offer help?”

The homey and welcoming atmosphere of Sakura House and Sakura Hotel also helps guests communicate with each other. General Manager Masayo Namiki said that connecting people is another important concept of Sakura House and Sakura Hotel. “There was a couple who had met each other at one of the Sakura House residences and later got married. We were invited to their wedding, too,” Namiki said with a warm smile.

She said that it is also heartwarming to see many of the guests come back again and again, each time with a growing number of family members. With the border slowly opening up for travelers from abroad, they are looking forward to welcoming new and old guests as if they are meeting their friends.