The Return Of An Icon In Tokyo

The beloved and historic Okura Tokyo hotel reopens after a meticulous do-over, as the city ramps up for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

After a mammoth four-year renovation, a stunning overhaul that cost ¥110 billion (USD1 billion), a legendary Tokyo luxury hotel reopened its doors in mid-September. Originally known as the Hotel Okura Tokyo from 1962, and now renamed as The Okura Tokyo, the spruced-up property features a new grand lobby that was controversially rebuilt from the rubble of its previous iteration.

Prior to its unveiling, admirers and patrons of the hotel feared that its reconstruction would jeopardize the retro elegance of original architect Yoshiro Taniguchi’s Modernist aesthetics. But its return to the public eye has quashed any worries: Taniguchi’s design ethos, which melds classic Japanese motifs with a more modern minimalism, remains.

Yoshio Taniguchi, the son of Okura’s original architect, had a hand in redesigning the new Okura. Many of the hotel’s design pieces — like the iconic hexagonal lanterns hanging from the ceiling — have been meticulously recreated. The original lobby chairs have been upholstered in warm, retro, autumnal shades, as well as timeless black and deep blue.

The renewed Okura also counts two new glass towers incorporated into the original design as part of its upgrades. The Okura Heritage Wing spans 17 storeys and houses 140 luxurious rooms that reflect traditional Japanese design, infused with modern accents. The 41-storey Okura Prestige Tower, on the other hand, boasts 368 contemporary guestrooms, a teppanyaki restaurant, an all-day dining restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a banquet hall, a gym and spa and one of the largest ballrooms in all of Tokyo.


Big Fry

While tempura is typically a Japanese cooking style associated with smoky izakayas and cheap soba noodles, Yaesu Tempura-kushi is trying to change that. Opened in September 2019 and situated in the pedestrian-heavy Tokyo Station area, the aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic Yaesu melds deep-fried tempura skewers with top-class presentation. Enjoy classic tempura staples made with shrimp and vegetables, as well as unique creations featuring Yanaka ginger with Awa pork from Tokushima Prefecture — best savored with the expertly matched shochu and sake offerings. It’s bar grub, elevated. 1/F 1-4-9 Yaesu, Chuo Ward



This story first appeared in the December 2019 issue of Smile magazineCebu Pacific flies to Tokyo from Manila.

Written by

Lucy Dayman

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