Mr. Kaor's Portrait
The portrait of a man from Japan who sent weekly letters to a Dutch hotel he never visited.
Not many people get handwritten letters anymore, especially ones full of inquiries about superficial things like how the weather is. But for the last 40 years, Hotel Spaander in Volendam has received just that, almost daily, from a mysterious man in Japan.
The staff of the Dutch hotel is accustomed to getting a colorful letter from one Mr. Kaor at least once a week, but often more frequently. These letters would always contain the same handwritten message that said:
How are you and how is the weather?
Thank you very much for sending me some informations the other day.
Please give my best regards to all members.
The staff wondered for a while who Mr. Kaor was and why he was sending letters to the hotel. In the beginning, they tried writing back and asking questions but were only met with more of the same letters. Eventually, they gave up and accepted the fact that the letters would come. That is, until 2018, when a group of reporters from the newspaper Het Parool decided to investigate this strange occurrence.
The reporters interviewed the staff and compared the many letters. All were written by hand and contained small errors and differences. It also was clear that the author was losing his fine motor skills over the years. But apart from that, the text of the letters was identical.
The reporters decided to write to the man and ask him why he was doing this, and to their surprise, they started receiving the same letters at the newspaper headquarters! The letters first came weekly, then slowly declined in frequency until they stopped a few months later. The newspaper staff got worried and asked the hotel if they also stopped getting them, but the letters were still coming in there. The author was fine.
After this incident, the team decided to do something drastic and visit the mysterious author in Japan. They dug up the sender’s address and phone number. The man was reluctant but finally accepted the visit, and a few weeks later welcomed them to his home.
It turned out that Mr. Kaor had very strange reasons for sending the letters, and it took a while for the Dutch visitors to fully understand. He said that he liked the Netherlands and the hotel in particular. But admitted that he had never been there and was not planning to; he just sent the letters because the hotel was in Volendam and his birthday was on the 22nd of the month.
After a long interview, Mr. Kaor explained that V is the 22nd letter of the Latin alphabet, which is why he likes things that start with V. What’s more, his father was born in the year of the mouse, or nezumi in Japanese, which sounds slightly like “Netherlands” when pronounced, and also Mr. Kaor loved strawberries, a fruit that the Netherlands was famous for.
It became clear that Mr. Kaor felt a bond with the Dutch hotel, and there wasn’t much reason for writing the letters beyond the simple fact that he liked doing it. After the interview, the artist in the group painted a portrait of Mr. Kaor that now hangs in the hotel.
When visiting the Hotel Spaander it is possible to see both the portrait and the letters, and staff members will be happy to tell you about this bizarre story.
Know Before You Go
Seeing the portrait is free, though staying a night in the hotel of course is not.
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