100 Next-Era Leaders in Asia 2016-2017 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Tobira Group

President Tadamasa Saito

Nagano Prefecture
Message to young people
I want you to enhance your personality and think all the time about what makes you different from others. You can imagine you are different from others in some way and as you imagine it, the difference will be yours. Unless it is something against public interest, or something that hurts your parents, I want you to take on whatever your mind calls for, without being afraid of making mistakes. If you work hard at something, you will find good opportunities.

My great-grandfather served as the head of the village, and he founded the Tobira Onsen Myojinkan spa to allow villagers to use the hot spring to treat their ailments. My grandfather inherited it after he returned from the war, and my father ran it until I finally inherited it. Something passing down through generations has to respect nature and we have placed a high priority on being in harmony with our surroundings. After I graduated from university, I worked at a travel agency, which was affiliated with a newspaper company, for three years before joining the family business. After I started working in this area, I discovered many things unique to the hospitality business. For example, a maid at an inn usually visits guest rooms about 7:30 in the morning to put away the futon. This is a subtle gesture to tell the guests to leave the room. When I was in university, I traveled all over the world and visited the Pita Maha resort in Bali. The resort was built by a king of the island at the end of a journey. In Japan, opening a spa typically starts with someone digging into the ground many years ago and discovering a hot spring. When that happened, many people would build inns or spas on the site. That’s how spas typically opened in Japan. But, in Bali, they thought about visitor traffic. They considered that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and they decided which direction would be best for guest rooms to face. They also followed feng shui and placed a high value on their sense of placement. That is why guests there feel comfortable. And that is exactly what we are trying to achieve at Myojinkan hotel.

At present, I am engaged not only in our resort hotel business, but also in other various projects related to tourism. Nagano Prefecture has appointed me as an official to introduce people to the prefecture’s food, and I have also been involved in a leading role for more local activities in my hometown, the city of Matsumoto. Also, for Relais & Chateaux, an international organization comprised of owners of 540 hotels in 64 countries around the world, I am serving as the head of the regional branch responsible for Japan and South Korea, in an attempt to build a better world through food and hospitality. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are a big opportunity for local companies in Japan to improve regional brands worldwide. While attending a global meeting of Relais & Chateaux, I realized that tourism and tourist spots in Japan were little known by the meeting participants. And, that is true about tourism in Nagano Prefecture and even truer about Matsumoto. In this contemporary world, affluent with rich cultures, one has to start creating big reactions to produce something new. I will continue being involved in projects to improve regional brands, in tandem with local governments, to spread the appeal of local areas.

Company Profile

Tobira Group
Nagano Prefecture
Hotel, restaurant operator, bridal business