hotel okura

just added some gal­leries to my pho­tog­ra­phy web­site monoc­u­la 

In may 2015 I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it the Hotel Oku­ra locat­ed in cen­tral Tokyo and direct­ly across the road from the US Embassy, short­ly before its con­tro­ver­sial demo­li­tion for rede­vel­op­ment. I was given per­mis­sion to pho­tograph in the pub­lic areas of the orig­i­nal hotel build­ing, a beau­ti­ful exam­ple of mid C20 mod­ernism,  out­stand­ing in its detailed and metic­u­lous design — blend­ing motifs and mate­ri­als from tra­di­tion­al Edo peri­od Japan with west­ern mod­ernism. in the 1960s it was a byword for lux­u­ry and moder­ni­ty in Japan’s new­ly con­fi­dent, bur­geon­ing, re-built post-war econ­o­my. In the film “Walk Don’t Run” it pro­vid­ed a back­drop for Cary Grant’s bemused and bewil­dered vis­i­tor to Tokyo dur­ing the first Tokyo Olympics. Although in the film he didn’t appear any too pleased with the ser­vice he received there, I have to say that I was met with flaw­less polite­ness and hos­pi­tal­i­ty.

The deci­sion to redesign and rede­vel­op the hotel has been wide­ly crit­i­cised as an act of philistine cor­po­rate van­dal­ism, despite assur­ances that the orig­i­nal spir­it of the hotel would be pre­served in the re-use or faith­ful repro­duc­tion of many of the fix­tures and fit­tings from the orig­i­nal build­ing. The new Tokyo Oku­ra will be enclosed inside a glass and steel  rec­tan­gu­lar shell, reveal­ing lit­tle if any of the char­ac­ter of the orig­i­nal build­ing. The archi­tect for that build­ing was Yoshi­ro Taniguchi, and the rede­vel­op­ment is being led by his son  Yosh­io Taniguchi who has declared his deter­mi­na­tion to refor­mu­late the spir­it of this gem of mid-cen­tu­ry mod­ernism in keep­ing with his father’s vision. Whether that deter­mi­na­tion can result in any­thing more than a plain­tive evo­ca­tion, for those who have been for­tu­nate enough to expe­ri­ence the first Oku­ra, will not be estab­lished until 2019 when the hotel re-opens for Tokyo’s sec­ond olympics, and Tokyo’s sec­ond Oku­ra.

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