Y asubimi and Makiko Kawamata are remarkably down to earth for a couple who live in an exclusive penthouse apartment that offers one of the best harbour views of the city. They are all smiles as they greet us with a Japanese bow and a handshake. There is a seamless sense of graciousness as they smile obligingly for the camera, letting our photographer lead them through poses on each of the spotless cream couches in the living room. The room is the size of a small apartment but, to the Kawamatas, this is a small part of their 2,706 sqft home at Gateway Apartments. After the photographer leaves, Mrs Kawamata surprises me by beginning the conversation in fluent Cantonese. In her 14 years in Hong Kong she has learnt to speak it with impressive ease. Mr Kawamata looks on proudly, although a bit confused, as she tells me that while she was able to take Cantonese lessons her husband could not find the time to fit them into his busy schedule. Hectic as Mr Kawamata's schedule is, however, somehow the couple still manage to travel the world, play golf and perform in the SAR Philharmonic Orchestra in their spare time. When they travel, they travel for the food. 'We don't like to shop,' Mrs Kawamata says. Instead, the couple hit the hot holiday spots in Southeast Asia, sampling everything from the satay in Bali to the tom yam gung in Phuket. They also share a love for Italian food, but one would be hard pressed to find them shelling out too much for a five-star plate of risotto - the laid-back pair steer clear of the big names and opt for places where they may dress more comfortably. The two certainly seem to prize their comfort and, as Mrs Kawamata says, 'time away from work should be relaxing'. When the couple are in need of entertainment they look to the nearby Pacific Club, with its spas, swimming pools, gymnasium, hair salon, sports courts and multiple dining options. Most mornings, after Mr Kawamata leaves for work, the retired Mrs Kawamata makes the five-minute walk over to the club where she spends a few hours making the most of the complimentary membership that Gateway residents receive. She spends most mornings at the gym making use of the up-to-date equipment. She has taken Pilates lessons - one of the many recreational classes that the club offers. Other activities include drawing, kickboxing, swimming, tai chi, yoga and tennis. However, her preferred relaxation spot is the women's spa, where she can enjoy the surrounding harbour view from her favourite spot in the jacuzzi. For the most part, however, the couple prefer to spend their downtime at home and, as leisure pads go, their penthouse suite hits all the right notes. 'We love playing classical music,' Mrs Kawamata says, and she doesn't just mean putting on a 'Best-of' compact disc. She says she and her husband spend most of their weekends at home with their friends from the orchestra. Mrs Kawamata plays the oboe, while Mr Kawamata switches between violin and viola, and the couple happily spend their weekend afternoons with their musical friends, reproducing the works of classical composers. Because of the couple's preference for staying in it is not surprising to see rows of Japanese cookbooks and condiments lining the counter in the kitchen. The Kawamatas clearly enjoy cooking, and the penthouse kitchenette is fully equipped with a stove, refrigerator, microwave oven and other necessary cooking aids. Mr Kawamata is grateful for the espresso machine tucked away in the corner. 'It's new,' he says proudly, as his wife promptly jumps up to show me the appliance, which comes with a box of espresso refill packets. I ask if the box is regularly replenished. Mrs Kawamata says: 'The housekeeping staff make sure to check every day when they come in to clean the apartment.' She says housekeeping is all about attention to detail. Gesturing towards the shoe rack in the foyer where I left mine when I arrived, she tells me that when they moved in, she happened to be unpacking her large box of shoes when the housekeeping staff were making their rounds. One look at the scores of shoes carpeting the floor was enough for the staff to alert their supervisor, who called the Kawamatas the next day to ask if they would be interested in having a shoe rack brought to their suite. 'They notice everything.' Mrs Kawamata says, adding that the housekeeping attendants have even started leaving one hand towel in the kitchen for her, after noticing that she would always take one of the bathroom hand towels into the kitchen. Mr Kawamata recounted a time when the DVD machine packed up. 'All it took was one phone call and we received a new machine within five minutes,' he says. 'We were surprised at how fast and efficient [the staff] were.' Mrs Kawamata says if she hangs the 'Please Clean Room' sign outside the door, it takes less than an hour for the management to notice and send housekeeping attendants to the suite. 'The service overall is very impressive,' she says, admitting that she did not know what to expect when the couple decided to move to Kowloon. Their previous residence was another well-established serviced apartment on Hong Kong Island, and the pair had reservations about living on the other side of the harbour. 'We were mainly worried about the service quality. But we fell in love with the penthouse when we first saw it and, now that we have lived here for a while, we know living on this side of town is nothing to be worried about,' Mrs Kawamata says.