MEMORIES OF A MODERN ARCHITECTURE MASTERPIECE
The main building of the historic Hotel Okura Tokyo closed August 2015 for demolition under plans for a rebuild after 53 years. For those who had the privilege to enjoy its pristine atmosphere for the senses it is already sorely missed. It is the rare place where one is able to experience the highest levels of craftsmanship across a host of disciplines under one roof. We visited the Hotel Okura one last time before its final destruction in order to record a sample of its beauty to share with our readers. Enjoy its beauty.
ALL ENCOMPASSING ARCHITECTURE
Designed by architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, the Okura was lauded for its dyamic designs featuring traditional Japanese motifs and patterns. From the moment one approached the hotel from either of its entrances one could sense its special qualities.
Hotel Okura was a collection of pristine artifacts that were woven together into a seamless whole. Such was its uniqueness that there are no copycat designs to compare to. Its prominence in Tokyo culture echoed the rise of post-war Japan.
A long list of unique and widely cherished features disappeared under the wrecking ball. Prominent among them were the hotel lobby’s hanging lamp shades which were modeled on the shape of ancient gems known as Okura lanterns.
Standing on the 2nd floor looking down to the lobby floor an organized series of round tables surrounded by five chairs appeared like petals of the plum flower. Exterior walls were patterned on sea cucumber walls – namakokabe – like those found in old Japanese castles.
ROLE IN TOKYO
As significant as the architecture was it wasn’t only about the building. A special blend of people, architecture and place grew together to represent the best of metropolitan Tokyo – Japan’s largest city and one of the greatest metropolitan’s on planet earth.
Upon word of the planned demolition of the Hotel Okura a rising chorus of dissent rose worldwide calling for its preservation. In a city of growing towers of blandness the Okura’s distinctively Japanese personality stood in stark contrast.
Lifestyle magazine Monocle collected more than 9,000 names in an online petition titled “Save the Okura Hotel.” together by a stellar group of architects and craftsmen during a particularly excellent time for modern design in Japan.”
BULLDOZED FOR COMMERCIAL REDEVELOPMENT
The hotel is to reopen in spring 2019 as a 38-story high-rise with 550 rooms, compared with 408 rooms currently. Hotel Okura Tokyo Co. bills the new hotel as combining the traditional beauty of its predecessor with cutting-edge technological functions. We were very happy with the original vision and look forward with trepidation.