Lonely Planet Writer

Self-parking slippers? All is not as it seems at this high tech Japanese guesthouse

The Ryokan; a traditional Japanese inn that offers guests the feeling of stepping back in time. Upon arrival, most often, visitors will remove their shoes and put on slippers to walk over woven tatami mats. But at this new high tech Ryokan, tradition meets innovation, with the unique addition of self-parking slippers that drive up to meet guests.

The ProPILOT Park Ryokan in Hakone combines aspects of traditional hospitality with self-driving technology developed by Nissan. At first glance, the ryokan looks like any other traditional inn, but objects inside it have been given designated spots that they automatically return to with the push of a button. Slippers are fitted with tiny wheels that bring them back to reception after guests are finished with them, while the inn also features moving floor cushions and autonomous low tables.

The slippers have wheels and autonomous driving capabilities.
The slippers have wheels and autonomous driving capabilities. Image by ProPILOT Park Ryokan/Nissan

First introduced in the Nissan LEAF in Japan last October, ProPILOT Park detects surrounding objects and lets drivers automatically park the vehicle in a selected space by pressing a button. In a clever marketing campaign, the same technology is being used in the amenities at the ryokan, which is actually open for visitors to apply to stay as part of a competition.

For a chance to win a free night at the ProPILOT Park Ryokan, contestants have been asked to post on Twitter using the hashtags #PPPRyokan and #wanttostay between 25 January and 10 February. Visitors to Nissan’s Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama can also experience the self-driving slippers at a dedicated exhibition booth  from 1 – 4 February.

The ryokan also features self-driving tables and floor cushions.
The ryokan also features self-driving tables and floor cushions. Image by ProPILOT Park Ryokan/Nissan

A recent study on travel trends saw ryokans experiencing a huge increase in the interest on Airbnb, with bookings made for the first half of 2018 up 600% on the previous year.