“Mr. M. Oshiro, the proprietor of the Oshiro Steamship Co., Tokyo, and some other business men, intend to purchase the Rosetta Maru and to convert her to a floating hotel. The ship will be anchored in Yokohama and sometimes in Shinagawa.”
– The Japan Weekly Mail, January 26, 1907
Global tourism one-hundred years ago was still a recreation reserved mostly for the wealthy and, consequently, lodgings for foreigners in Tokyo were few and far between unless one was monied enough to transit in the refinements offered by the Imperial Hotel, Metropole Hotel or Seiyoken Hotel.
The Rosetta Hoteru [hotel] provided ship-borne lodgings from a wharf at Shibaura near the Hama Detached Palace (on the left) on Tokyo Bay; reasonably comfortable accommodations for less-monied travelers and more budget-minded foreign businessmen. The Rosetta Hotel opened in 1907 but closed its doors in 1912.
The Rosetta was originally built for the United Kingdom’s Peninsular & Oriental (P&O) shipping company, and was the first P&O ship to be built in Ireland. It was launched in May, 1880, and made its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England, in September to Australia and Bombay, India, carrying 104 first-class and 32 second-class passengers. In 1885, Rosetta was based temporarily in Hong Kong for use as an armed merchant cruiser during a time of diplomatic tension between Great Britain and Russia.
In 1901, Rosetta was sold to Nippon Yusen Kabushiki-Kaisha (NYK) and renamed Rosetta Maru, before being sold again in 1901 to Toyo Kisen KK, Tokyo (plying the weekly Hong Kong-Manila route), and, in 1907, to the Oshiro Steamship Co. for conversion into a floating hotel. During the Russo-Japanese War, the Rosetta Maru and its sister ship, Rohilla Maru, were requisitioned by the Japanese government for use as hospital ships.