Dotonbori Hotel Front Pillars – Osaka, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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Dotonbori Hotel Front Pillars

Surreal giant face-pillars welcome visitors from across the globe to this hotel. 

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Dotonbori Hotel, located in Osaka’s main shopping district of the same name, first opened in 1970. This was the year in which Osaka hosted a World Expo, and it was expected to draw in many tourists from around the world. The hotel was built and served mainly to accommodate them during its first year.

In the following years, however, the number of international visitors to Osaka did not grow much. By the 1990s, nearly all of the guests at Dotonbori Hotels were Japanese tourists. To give it a new twist (but for no other reason in particular), a strange decoration was added to the hotel’s front entrance in 1991: a quartet of pillars with giant, realistic human faces.

Each pillar’s face, from the right, represents features commonly seen in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia, respectively. Growing right below their chins are giant-sized but tiny-looking feet, and on the backs of their heads (which can be seen from the hotel’s lobby) are buttocks. Together, the pillars symbolize the spirit of omotenashi, the traditional hospitality culture of Japan.

The hotel started looking to foreign tourists following some slump in the business and has since adopted new services for multi-cultural guests, such as extensive currency exchange, halal meals, and prayer mats for Muslim visitors, as well as traditional Japanese cuisine that is served in breakfast. Thanks to this new shift, the hotel has become a popular accommodation for international visitors, who make up about 70 percent of the hotel’s guests today.

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