Introducing Our Friendly and Hard-working Manager at The Millennials Kyoto!
The LIVELY HOTELS has staff from around the world whose journeys to our hotels all look different. Shou En Lin, who goes by the nickname Seven, has been with The Millennials Kyoto since the facility opened six years ago. In this Q&A, you will learn about how Seven made his journey from the bustling city of Taipei to the historical tourist town of Kyoto as well as his experiences working at our hotel and what he loves about the city.
Q: Hello, Seven. Thank you for joining me today for this interview. My first question is about your name. I’m curious why they call you Seven?
Well, I used to play a lot of online games and that was my alias. Since then, it has become a nickname among my friends and other people I know in real life.
Q: Nice, it’s a cool nickname. And what do you do at The Millennials Kyoto?
I do almost everything. I started as cleaning staff, where I cleaned the pods part-time during my working holiday. I was down to do any kind of work. I cleaned from 10 a.m. to 3 pm, then from there worked at the front desk. After one year I became a full-time staff member, where I decided the operation, how things worked, all the rules, staff training, curation, etc. After COVID-19, the manager left his position, then I got all the work from the manager like revenue things and such. I decide all the prices, communicate with online agents to decide room prices, work on marketing, do curation as trip advisor to help people discover new places and restaurants and organize events.
Q: That sounds like a lot. Do you have a favorite responsibility?
I like having discussions with the agency to decide how to sell rooms and decide prices because I can find out if we do this discount or promotion, we can see different types of people coming. I also like to hang out with guests because it’s The Millennials, so it’s not a classic hotel. There’s no real distance between the staff and guests. We’re quite close and willing to chat. After working hours, we can have drinks with guests to guide them about things to do and share our experiences in Kyoto. It’s nice to talk to guests and share my story with them because I’m not a local. I’m a foreigner so I can share what kind of life a foreigner lives in Kyoto. They don’t want to know about real local life. They want to know what a foreigner living in Kyoto looks like because if they have the chance to live in Kyoto, they will be like me.
Q: Fascinating. By the way, what kinds of events have you held recently?
We held a DJ event in November where we collaborated with local restaurants and guests because we don’t have a restaurant at the hotel but I know a lot of local restaurants. I invited local restaurants to the hotel so we could have a party together and connect local people to our guests. Usually our guests don’t know where to go. They depend on our advice and where we recommend them to visit. Since I have the power, I can connect my favorite spots with my guests. I enjoy connecting people together. That’s why I made a community of .andwork where I connect all the .andwork monthly users. I host a small event gathering all the monthly members to let them get to know each other. Usually they are freelancers but as a freelancer if you know more people, you have more business opportunities. Some of our monthly members have worked together actually so it’s a chance to improve their experience. We want to invite local coffee stands and DJs and local people and combine them with guests so everyone can enjoy the events and create a community here. That’s the purpose of travel–to meet locals and do local things. If you just go to a different country but don’t get in touch with the locals, it’s a little bit of a waste.
Q: It’s great that you’re trying so hard to connect locals and foreigners. So you started here six years ago. Why did you decide to work here?
The first members here were quite friendly and this space was quite international. As a foreigner it was easier to get in. As a foreigner it’s not easy to find a job, but here it’s easier to be accepted and respected, even if you are not good at Japanese because everyone can work together and have fun, but they also know English. People here are willing to communicate with you positively, so I chose to work here. I was really lucky to find this job.
Q: What have been your fondest memories working here?
Akio-san and another person who works the night shift, Ikari-san, has also been here since the beginning, but everyone else has left. Still, I enjoy the people here. I like being able to communicate with guests and staff and hang out with everyone. I’ve met a lot of people here and even experienced some romance. I have also met people from my hometown here. When I was studying in college I never thought I’d work overseas. I never thought I’d get out of the country or have a life in another country but working here, I can communicate with people from a lot of places, get a lot of information about different countries and know different cultures. People think differently from different countries. People from America think like this, people from Malaysia think like this, etc. While you’re talking to them you can clearly see where the differences are.
Q: What are some examples of differences you have noticed?
I’ve noticed that people from certain places, like Mexico and India ask you for absolutely everything. They ask you for this and that and they don’t think it’s a big matter if you can give it to them or not. If you can help them, they feel lucky, but if you don’t fulfill their wishes, they think nothing. But Japanese and other Asian people don’t think like that. They want to ask things but they’re shy about it. I’ve also noticed that Australians and Americans, usually barely have any plans when they come to Kyoto. They don’t know anything about Kyoto. They just know the name. They come here and ask for all of our advice. If you can give them any kind of advice, they will be happy. They are easy to please and easy to become friends with.
Q: Nice. Have you made many friends here?
Not close ones, but we hang out when they’re staying here. We’ll go to an izakaya and drink together. One or two regularly come back to meet me.
Q: Do you have any fun stories with guests or other staff?
The opening members were a bunch of alcoholics. We used to drink together quite often after our shifts. We would work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and after 11 p.m. we would hang out outside and drink until 4 a.m. Then start work again. It was quite crazy, but we spent our time together and became quite close. Sometimes we still contact each other. Even if staff members quit, we still keep in touch.
Q: Back to what you said before. You never imagined going overseas, so why did you do working holiday then?
After I graduated I didn’t know what to do. I used to work as a rock n roll assistant and after that I had no life plans. My first idea was to learn Japanese because Japan is nearby and since ancient times there has been Japanese influence on Taiwan. My grandma and grandpa speak Japanese too so sometimes I thought I wanted to learn and improve my language skills so I decided to come to Japan. Before that I went on a trip here and thought Japan is a good place and I want to spend more time here. Then I just came.
Q: Why Kyoto?
Because Kyoto is a peaceful city, a city for living. I don’t like cities that are crowded like Tokyo, so the first places I considered were Kyoto and Osaka, but Osaka is much more like Taiwan, so I chose Kyoto. It’s a cultural center in Japan actually. The last time I traveled to Japan was to Kyoto, so I just decided to come back again and since then I have not wanted to live anywhere else. People ask me if I want to go to Osaka or Tokyo but I don’t think I can fit in in the city because Kyoto is quite a weird place. Every traveler comes to Kyoto. We get a lot of people, but we’re only a small town. Half of the people here are tourists. Everything here is still countryside. Also because of government limitations, they don’t want to overdevelop Kyoto so there are lots of people here, but it’s still a small town. Because it’s a small town, you can still see the sky, big parks, temples and shrines. It’s more relaxed.
Q: I see. How is Osaka like Taiwan?
It’s a passionate place. People in Kansai more passionate, not afraid to communicate with you. They’re willing to help you. Also the city view looks like Taiwan. This is not a good comment, but it’s a little bit dirty. I went to language school in Kyoto when I first came to the city. At that time I traveled to Osaka too and that was the first time I thought Osaka was quite similar to my hometown.
Q: How long do you plan on staying in Kyoto?
My wife is Japanese and got a job here so recently I’ve been thinking we stay at least the next 10 years. I don’t have any brothers and sisters. I’m an only child so maybe one day I will go back to Taiwan for a period because my parents are getting older, but eventually I will still come back to Kyoto.
Q: What do you think makes The Millennials Kyoto different from other hotels?
It’s more chill in Kyoto. You can see that our Tokyo Shibuya hotel branch has more vivid and lively energy. But here you can feel more relaxed because it is much more spacious. As for events, in Shibuya there are more parties with drinking and dancing but events in Kyoto are more like family reunions. People also drink and eat, listen to music together, but they are much closer to each other like it’s a large family.
Q: That’s quite sweet. By the way, what do you do after work?
I like playing video games an doing photography. I used to take a lot of photos, but not recently, since my job has taken over all my time. I also like going to music festivals. Sometimes I go to live houses or nearby music festivals.
Q: Nice. What are your future goals?
I really love Kyoto. I really love this city and if I can be a content creator about Kyoto, showing people what life is like living here or where you should go and introducing local places you would never know as a foreigner, I would want to do that as Youtuber or Instagrammer. I don’t know how to do it, but I want to try doing a job showing life in Kyoto. I also dream about being a trip advisor like a guide or trip plan creator that customizes trips with guests. Kyoto is a place well-known among foreigners and tourists but every tourist always goes to the same places when there are still a lot of places, quiet places, they should go as foreigners. There are a lot of restaurants you would never know as a foreigner. I want to connect these places with foreigners to show the real Kyoto, the Kyoto you would never know. I don’t know how, but if I could do that I would be really happy.
Q: Any final words?
Kyoto is a place worth coming back to several times. If you do come, you should spend a really long time in this city because it has different faces among all the seasons and months. It changes all the time, so I recommend you have a long term stay, at least over one month and that you come back again during a different season.
Q: Great! I think that’s everything. Thank you so much for talking to me to today.
Thank you for having me.
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