|Above, the dinner party at the Imperial Hotel last October.|
In 1954, United World News reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) was just "lucky" enough to be at the right place at the wrong time.
He was on his way to Cairo and stopped off in Tokyo for a nice, relaxing visit with an old friend, Dr. Serizawa. That visit never came about (unless they chatted aboard a boat in Tokyo Bay before Serizawa suited up for a fateful dive). The stopover in Tokyo was hardly relaxing either. Martin stated that he was staying at the Imperial Hotel before being led from the airport for "just questioning". It is unclear if he ever made it to his room at the hotel since a giant radioactive lizard decided to stroll through Tokyo, including the district where the Imperial Hotel stood.
Today, the Imperial Hotel doesn't have to worry about threats to its existence by radioactive lizards, but the surging Japanese yen has been cramping its style in recent weeks. And that is making the hotel's management nervous.
Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, the luxury inn that counts Marilyn Monroe among past guests, raised room rates last year to levels it last charged before Japan’s bubble burst in the early 1990s. A surging yen now threatens those gains.
With signs of spending from foreign tourists starting to wane as a result of the stronger currency, the hotel is looking to boost wedding banquets and turn those younger guests in to repeater clients, said Hideya Sadayasu, the president and general manager of Imperial Hotel Ltd.
Last October, I hosted a little dinner party for Toho Co., Ltd. friends at the Imperial Hotel. We had a splendid window table that had a view of the Imperial Palace and the National Diet Building. At that time, the dollar/yen exchange rate in Tokyo I received was ¥116.99. Today's exchange rate in Tokyo is hovering around ¥100. But that "catch" is, that rate is only available to "high rollers". Ordinary visitors will receive considerably less in exchange.
With the yen performing stronger, it makes visits to Japan and the cost of goods and services there more expensive. Unless things turn around soon, the Japanese government may be forced to step in to devalue the yen. We shall see.
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