A luxury hotel in central Tokyo much loved by visitors for its classic Japanese ambience reopened Thursday after four years of renovations.
The Okura Tokyo has reused much of the original decor from its old main building's lobby, which was considered a Japanese modernist masterpiece, for its new lobby area.
"I challenged myself not only to recreate the lobby my father created, but to make it even greater," said Yoshio Taniguchi, the 81-year-old designer of the rebuilt hotel and eldest son of the original architect, Yoshiro Taniguchi.
The opening ceremony was attended by Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike and Princess Takamado, widow of former Emperor Akihito's late cousin, among others.
The newly renovated hotel is comprised of two buildings -- a 17-story structure which houses guest rooms from the sixth floor up, alongside a 41-story tower which includes hotel rooms between the 28th and 36th floors, as well as office space from the eighth to 25th floors. In total, the hotel has 508 rooms in two buildings. Rates start at 70,000 yen per night for a double room with the most expensive suite being 3 million yen per night.
The smaller of the two buildings, The Okura Heritage Wing, which has its own reception, is a 75-meter, 17-story structure with views of gardens and greenery on three sides. The spacious guest rooms in The Okura Heritage Wing offer generous floor areas of 60 square meters.
The larger Okura Prestige Tower is a 188-meter, 41-story structure combining premium quality accented with refined Japanese aesthetics. Guest rooms begin on the 28th floor; standard-size rooms measuring some 50 square meters.
On the top floor of The Okura Prestige Tower, guests can take in fabulous views of the city while dining at historic Sazanka, the hotel’s reborn teppanyaki restaurant. Additionally, an all-day dining restaurant, Orchid, features a mix of cuisine with relaxing indoor and outdoor seating, and Toh-Ka-Lin offers delicious Chinese cuisine.
The Okura Museum of Art, originally established in 1917 as Japan’s first privately operated art museum, will once again attract art lovers from the world over with a celebrated collection that includes some 2,500 works of art, among which are three National Treasures, 13 Important Cultural Properties and 44 Important Art Objects designated by the Japanese government.
The lobby area features an assortment of original furnishings including ceiling lanterns shaped like ornamental beads and sets of tables and chairs assembled to resemble plum blossoms.
The Heian Room will accommodate up to 2,000 people, making it one of Tokyo’s largest ballrooms. Motifs from the Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems, a national treasure, will decorate the walls. Small artistic displays entitled “Takumi of Japan” are located on all guest room floors of the Okura Prestige Tower, showcasing carefully selected traditional handcrafts from all 47 prefectures in Japan
The Okura Tokyo, previously known as Hotel Okura Tokyo, first opened its doors in 1962, two years before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The late founder Kishichiro Okura said at the time that the goal was "to create an international hotel unique to Japan, applying traditional Japanese aesthetics within its architecture."
The hotel has seen many famous faces walk through its doors, from Beatles member John Lennon to writer Yasunari Kawabata, winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Literature. It has also hosted leaders such as former U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
With the hotel having won many admirers abroad, there was some initial concern when renovations of its main building were announced. British monthly magazine Monocle instituted a "Save the Okura" movement calling for its preservation, while a similar petition garnered approximately 6,000 signatures.
"Please look forward to the revival of the timeless Okura lobby," said Taniguchi.
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