Kaizen - Successful Challenge in Hotel Rich and Garden Sakata, Japan

Hotel Rich and Garden Sakata, located in the northern region of Japan, was awarded Green Key as the first hotel in Asia in 2009.

In 2005, when reconstruction of the hotel was planned, Mr. Kumagai, the President of Hotel Rich and Garden Sakata, considered to apply Nordic design for it because of the climate of Sakata being very cold for half of the year, he thought it would be similar to Nordic countries.

During Mr Kumagai's visit to Finland and Denmark for inspiration, he found the concept of Green Key, and he adopted the Green Key criteria as the basic policy for renovation of the hotel. It was also a reason to take Nordic countries as a model that they received highly rankings of happiness nation. Mr. Kumagai said “We hope to create the community hotel where people can enjoy food and music, not just a convenient business hotel.” Hotel Rich and Garden Sakata is now very famous for their environmentally friendly management, as their guest rooms and banquet rooms provide the Danish design and atmosphere.

Three years ago, Mr. Abe joined the hotel and took over Green Key project from his predecessor. Mr. Abe previously worked at a major electronics manufacturer as ISO expert. He knew that Hotel Rich and Garden Sakata was certified with the Green Key award and he appreciated this very much. After he became in charge of environmental operation of the Hotel, he has worked on the "5S steps concept"* in addition to the Green Key criteria:

  • Sort: Sort out & separate that which is needed & not needed in the area.
  • Straighten: Arrange items that are needed so that they are ready & easy to use. Clearly identify locations for all items so that anyone can find them & return them once the task is completed.
  • Shine: Clean the workplace & equipment on a regular basis in order to maintain standards & identify defects.
  • Standardize: Revisit the first three of the 5S on a frequent basis and confirm the condition of the working site using standard procedures.
  • Sustain: Keep to the rules to maintain the standard & continue to improve every day.

Mr Abe's environmental reform for the hotel led to success, not just maintaining the Green Key, but also further improving efficiency and safety in the hotel management. Mr. Kumagai is very satisfied with Mr. Abe’s performance and he found that Green Key is the one of triggers for recruiting good human ressources.


Kaizen, Japanese for "improvement." When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. it has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries. By improving standardized activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste (see lean manufacturing). Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country. It has since spread throughout the World and is now being implemented in environments outside of business and productivity. Source: Wikipedia.