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Environment Left-behind suitcases repurposed as vegetable gardens

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The Japan National Tourism Organization reported on May 15 that the number of international tourists visiting Japan surpassed 3 million in March and April. This surge has left hotel operators perplexed regarding the disposal of abandoned luggage. However, Hotel Niwa Tokyo, situated roughly 200 meters southeast of JR Suidobashi Station and surrounded by lush gardens, has devised a creative use for these suitcases. Satoshi Ebinuma, the hotel's General Manager, showcased the rooftop garden to a Mainichi Shimbun journalist, where herbs and vegetables are cultivated organically and incorporated into the hotel restaurant's menu. The unique twist is repurposing the suitcases left by overseas guests as containers for growing plants.

Hotel Niwa Tokyo

Photo credit: Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki


It started in the fall of 2022 when large amounts of leaves from the hotel's gardens were being composted. Lime was made from eggshells from eggs used in the restaurant's breakfasts, and seeds were planted using soil in jute bags that held coffee beans. However, there were challenges, such as resilience and maintaining moisture. The suitcases left behind in the hotel's junk storage room were a potential solution. The rooting process for vegetables differs by type. "Suitcases can be used vertically or laid sideways to align with the image of the roots. They're sturdy, lightweight and easy to carry if the casters aren't broken," Ebinuma said. Around 25 varieties of vegetables and fruit, including eggplant, tomato and melon, were first grown there last year. The results were also lauded by guests.



 
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