Hotel Lemon was a very fun interactive exhibit by “Smiles:”. Smiles: is part of the parent company of Soup Stock Tokyo that is run by Mr. Masamichi Toyama. I’m not sure how deep the connection is between him and the hotel or what parts of Smiles Co. Ltd. are involved with this artwork. It was still a very fun and enjoyable artwork that really requires 2 people to truly enjoy it.
When you reach Hotel Lemon, you are taken aback by how secluded it is compared to the other artworks of Karato-oka. It is located in a very nice house and when you enter you are given a recorder. It is with this that you get to hear a story and enjoy the situation with a friend. If you are alone, you lose a lot of the fun, but it can be done. I was unfortunate in the sense that I was travelling alone and the English recorder was being used at the time. I had to use the Japanese recorder and while I understood enough to understand the situations, I didn’t understand everything.
The first step is the side entrance to the hotel. They had a small entrance with several lemon coloured sheets flapping in the wind. It was a real beautiful scene and they talked a little about how it was created with lemons from the island. I really liked the image and it was beautiful to take photos of it but my memories of the entrance were much better than the photos.
The second part of the audio was talking about the bathroom. As of the writing of this I hadn’t been to the artwork for over half a year but I remember something about a wild animal, possibly a crocodile, coming out of the tub. It was really nice to see the bathroom and I believe it was actually a working bathroom that you go through.
Once you finish the bathroom you head to the side yard of the house. There is a small telescope where you can look through and see the fire hall of Karato-oka. The fire hall has an oil rig like structure on top with a bell on it. Generally it is a warning bell to say there is a fire or that the fire brigade is on its way out. I honestly don’t know its true function but if it is attached to the fire hall, it can only be used for specific situations anyways.
As you continue with the audio tour, you come to a yellow telephone. It is a pretty old telephone and I can’t remember what the audio was talking about. It was a little difficult for me to understand in Japanese but it would later talk about picking up the phone and talking to the people on the other side. I did pick up the phone but couldn’t really understand what was going on. If you know more about this, I’d be really grateful to learn all about this phone.
The next step is the real interactive part. The other sections don’t really require 2 people but the last one does. You enter the main tatami room which also serves as the bedroom to the hotel. They tell a very funny story about friends and co-workers. It is a story of how elders get to harass their juniors and also about how their relationships are. I also remember them talking about couples and how to have a good relationship as well as to smile a lot. The main picture is a couple smiling with a lemon wedged between their faces. This is the interactive part as you are invited to bring your loved one, usually a boyfriend/girlfriend, but it could also be any friend, and you can put a lemon between your cheeks and take a selfie with it. It was fun but I couldn’t do it as I was alone.
The last part is a couple of paintings in the living room which also serves as the cafe. I don’t remember the art very much and I actually almost missed the artwork if it weren’t for others starting to look at it after I had sat down. The cafe was really fun too with a nice gentleman selling lemon related items. Of course I got the lemon beer which was a Kirin Ichiban Shibori base with a lemon and honey syrup added. They also added slices of lemon to it making it a very refreshing drink in the summer. I was really happy to have it and while it didn’t help with the dehydration, it did help me feel refreshed.
Hotel Lemon is a great artwork and I believe it continues to be open to the public. The hotel is still open and you can actually stay in Hotel Lemon but it is a bit expensive, currently 43,000 JPY a night, and extremely difficult to do so. They only have a single room so only 1 group (2-6 people) can stay at any given time. I would love to spend a night there as I’m sure it is very peaceful and I believe the dinner and breakfast would be hard to get unless you are a guest. Hotel Lemon is a new must visit place if you are ever on Teshima and you can be sure that I will be back again in the future.