Rieko Mohara writes: On a weekday afternoon, many small groups of women were having afternoon tea at a luxury hotel in central Tokyo. Koto music was being performed live by a woman in kimono, but the atmosphere of the chic, mostly black, spacious lounge of Aman Tokyo hotel on the 33rd floor of a high-rise building was not typically Japanese.
Located in the Otemachi area of Chiyoda Ward, Aman is one of many hotels in central Tokyo offering afternoon tea, which usually includes sandwiches and various sweets served on a multi-tiered cake stand, as well as scones and different choices of drinks such as black tea — you can drink as much as you like. Such courses are priced at about ¥4,000 to ¥5,000.
“I liked the desserts designed as high heels and bags. They were so pretty, and it was nice to take pictures,” said Haruna Usui, a 22-year-old university student living in Nerima Ward, Tokyo. “I wanted to have afternoon tea at Aman after my friends posted about having it there on social media,” she added.
Thus afternoon tea is not something only for the privileged and middle-aged homemakers who presumably have spare time and spare money for this kind of leisure activity. Women in their 30s, 40s and 50s are the main customers, usually spending a couple of hours per visit, according to a number of Tokyo hotels.
Usui’s mother, Saki, a 51-year-old homemaker, also had afternoon tea at Aman with her “mom friends,” who know each other through their children.
“I felt relaxed and comfortable to chat with my friends there. I could spent my time differently than usual,” Usui’s mother said in an email, adding that she chose the hotel because it had been the topic of conversations. Usui said she has a number of other friends, as does her mother, who have enjoyed afternoon tea for similar reasons.
Afternoon tea, a tradition in Britain, has taken root in Japan in recent years, seemingly because it is photogenic and allows women to spend time in an elegant atmosphere at a luxury hotel.
Indeed, many customers take photos and post them to social media platforms such as blogs.
“The photos taken [by customers] are really good. As such, afternoon tea has become popular through word of mouth,” said Minako Hayata, a spokesperson for Aman Tokyo.
Saori Shiobara, in charge of marketing and communications at Palace Hotel Tokyo, also said, “I feel pleased when I see photos of our afternoon tea on social media and in other places.”
Palace Hotel, located next to the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, began offering afternoon tea on a four-tiered cake stand in its lounge bar Prive in April. The hotel had previously served afternoon tea on a two-tiered cake stand at the bar, but changed to the four-tiered version this spring … (read more)
via The Japan News