Sayonara Hotel Okura

The main building of Hotel Okura Tokyo will be demolished after its closing on Aug 31.

As I touched on it in my blog earlier, worldly well-known designers, architects and foreign media have been expressing regret and some are calling for saving for Hotel Okura, but our wish didn’t come true.

Bottega Veneta started a social media campaign,


where one could post photos expressing the moment felt/spent at Okura.

This campaign is driven by the appreciation of Tomas Maier, the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta toward the architectural aesthetics and the modernism that Okura holds.

I will drop by to embrace the last moment and say good-bye once again.

Save the Okura!

Hotel Okura

Aiming at 2020, where Tokyo Olympics will be held, there are many construction projects going on around Tokyo and even some landmarks of Japanese modernist architectures are torn down. I am not against the efforts to make Tokyo more desirable city, but there are things that we shouldn’t demolish without enough thoughts on protection of the valuable assets.

Hotel Okura Tokyo is one of such and I wrote about it in my blog end of last year.

Hotel Okura Tokyo was built more than 50 years ago and one of the iconic Japanese architecture that embody Japan’s traditional esthetics. Now the demolition of Hotel Okra Tokyo is planned in this summer to build new hotel building by 2019.

What interesting is that more oversea media picked up this plan with disappointment such as The NY Times and Washington Post. Well known foreign artists and designers oppose to this idea and Monocle magazine has been actively promoting a signature-collecting campaign “Save the Okura”.  You can participate in this campaign from here.

‘Casa Brutus’ – Japanese magazine specialized in lifestyle, design and architecture created a tribute page to Hotel Okura in its website, where many well-known designers and architects such as Paul Smith and Steven Holl talk about their relationship, memories or appreciation about Hotel Okura. Case Brutus site is here. 

“Demolition of the Okura is a tragedy.”

– Steven Holl

“A masterpiece of modernism. We should protect it as a cultural asset for the future”

– Margarete Howel

“Still Avant-garde design today.”

– Masaya Kuroki, Creative director of  Maison Kitsune

Tomas Maier, Creative director of Bottega Veneta is also against the demolition plan of Hotel Okura Tokyo. He is calling net users for uploading photos that one took in Hotel Okura Tokyo in Instagram with # (hashtag), in order to widely gain more attentions to the issue of breaking down valuable architectures. Tomas Maier also appears in youtube to send his message ‘Save Japan’s Modern Architecture – Tomas Maier in Japan’.

We may have little power to change the demolition plan of Hotel Okura Tokyo, but I believe that our voice could make many people aware of the value of asset and still influence the design of new Hotel Okura Tokyo.

HOTEL OKURA TOKYO Reborn and Tokyo Olympics

Hotel Okura6

A perfect blend of orange soft light and natural sun light coming through a paper sliding door (Shoji). I am writing this at the spacious main lobby of Hotel Okura Tokyo.

Here, the light gives a warm feeling. It seems whether it subtly hides the thing which you don’t wish to show, in comparison with recent modern buildings, transparent and light, and full of glass-made material used. I sometime feel intimidated and overly exposed.

Photo by Mannuel Oka

Photo by Manuel Oka  (

Hotel Okura Tokyo, one of Japan’s most iconic hotels will be torn down from September 2015 to renovate its main building with completion by Spring 2019, one year prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It has been long time since I came here last time in daytime and I had an urge to come here to burn every detail of my favorite hotel into my memory.

Here you find Japan’s modern design combined with the traditional colors, patterns, shapes and materials.

Lanterns shaped in an ancient necklace motif (切子玉)

Hotel Okura1

Shoji with glass window behind a sliding bottom half and a mullion with a flax leaf pattern

Flax leaf pattern was introduced in江戸切子/


A muntin with a haze hanging over the scene (霞棚型)


Rhomboid Pattern


Hexagonal Pattern



Bird pattern

Hotel Okura Tokyo was built two years ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 by the team of architects led by Yoshiro Taniguchi and an annex was added in 1973.  Kishichiro Okura, the founder of Hotel Okura believed that availability of a luxury hotel in the capital city represents a standard of the culture of the country. Hotel Okura Tokyo was built under his desire of creating a modern hotel that embraced Japan’s traditional beauty.

The main building of Hotel Okura Tokyo may be exhorted and need a reconstruction, but the timing of it prior to two Tokyo Olympics for both creation and re-creation, I can’t think of anything but destiny.

Its main building will be reborn as a 38-storey glass tower in 2019. It is said that the new building will maintain the traditional Japanese aesthetic and will be a true “Made in Japan” luxury hotel to preserve its rich history. As Kishichiro Okura had a clear vision how the first Hotel Okura Tokyo should be, new Hotel Okura Tokyo perhaps need a purpose of reconstruction beyond the economic reason.

All of my fingers are crossed and Hotel Okura Tokyo hopefully won’t be buried into many of those glass-walled high rises.

Monocle magazine has started a petition to save the old Hotel Okura Tokyo. You can participate in it from the link below. I hope they will succeed.


More information on Hotel Okura Tokyo: