In Tokyo, the historic Hotel Okura, which originally opened its doors in 1962, is set to reopen as The Okura Tokyo in early September 2019.
Upon completion, the renovated hotel will have a total of 508 rooms in two buildings, about half of them covered with gardens and greenery—another strong vote for the popularity of biophilic design.
The Okura Tokyo’s architectural design team is made up of six organizations led by Taisei Corporation’s Design Division. The traditional Japanese elements in the former Hotel Okura Tokyo were recreated by Yoshio Taniguchi, son of Yoshiro Taniguchi, designer of the original Okura main lobby. Taniguchi designed the lobbies of both buildings—a further nod to the Okura legacy.
The smaller of the two buildings, The Okura Heritage Wing, will be a 17-story structure with views of gardens and greenery on three sides. It will have its own reception. The Yamazato Japanese restaurant will make a return in The Okura Heritage Wing, as will the Chosho-an tea ceremony room.
The larger Okura Prestige Tower will have 41 stories. Guestrooms will begin on the 28th floor, with views of Tokyo from every room. The tower will have dining options and banquet facilities, including one of the largest ballrooms in Tokyo.
Sense of Place, Sense of History
In designing the Okura Heritage Wing and the Okura Prestige Tower, Yoshio Taniguchi, the architect behind the redesigned Museum of Modern Art in New York, sought to honor the legacy of both the original hotel and his father.
“The original lobby designed by my father was extremely popular,” said Yoshio Taniguchi in a statement, “so I felt a special responsibility to create distinctive Japanese designs that would similarly inspire guests for years to come.” Some of these reproduced designs will include the Four Petal Flowers wall tapestry, a Nishijin-weave silk brocade originally designed by Japanese “human national treasure” Kenkichi Tomimoto, and shoji paper windows with the Asanoha-mon leaf-pattern lattice work.
Decorations from the original hotel displayed in the new lobby of The Okura Prestige Tower will include hexagonal Okura Lantern ceiling lights, lacquered tables and chairs arranged like plum flowers, a world map and clock displaying global time zones and traditional paper lamps.
The property will also house the Okura Museum of Art. Originally established in 1917 as Japan’s first privately operated art museum, it will have a collection that includes some 2,500 works of art, among them three National Treasures, 13 Important Cultural Properties and 44 Important Art Objects as designated by the Japanese government. The traditionally themed museum building will be one of the elements comprising the property’s new entrance, The Okura Square, which will also have a waterscape.