The grandeur of Tokyo’s Hotel Okura in pictures

The Grandeur Of Tokyo's Hotel Okura In Pictures

The story of one of Tokyo’s grandest hotels came to a close on Monday as the Okura shut for renovation. Though its annex will remain in operation, its iconic main building will be torn down to make way for a new development. It has welcomed foreign presidents, celebrities, and even hosted a spy named James Bond.

‘Modernist masterpiece’ Built in 1962, Okura was designed by architect Yoshiro Taniguchi in the modernist style, with the aim of conveying “a firm dignity impervious to fleeting fashion”, according to the hotel’s website.1

It has been hailed as a modernist masterpiece, but also incorporates many traditional Japanese motifs. This includes an exterior which resembles the walls of ancient Japanese buildings in a style known as namakokabe, or sea cucumber walls.

Another architectural feature in the hotel is its famous gem-like lighting fixtures, now known as Okura lanterns.

Pomp and ceremony

In 1967 the hotel celebrated its fifth anniversary with a sumptuous feast laid out in its banquet room, Heian-no-ma. It featured a miniature model of the hotel created entirely out of sugar, and a large globe that said “Pearl of the Orient”.

The tapestries in the banquet hall were carefully preserved throughout the decades.

Luxurious interiors, latest technology

When it first opened, guests would check in at the wood-panelled reception, which was later turned into a cloakroom for the lobby.

The rooms were decked out in luxurious fabrics and decorated in a way that would offer “moments of relaxation” to the guests, according to the hotel.

Okura boasted the latest in hotel technology when it first opened. An operator working in its telephone exchange back then could relay about 150 calls in one hour.

Celebrity guests

Due to its proximity to the US embassy, the hotel often hosted visiting American political leaders and senior staff. US President Barack Obama visited in April 2014 for a meeting with Emperor Akihito.

The Dalai Lama addressed religious leaders, scientists and other guests at a dialogue held at the hotel in 2013.

Others who have graced its hallways include French actress Jeanne Moreau, Hollywood actor Harrison Ford, and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.2

Its most famous guest, however, paid a visit only in fiction. In Ian Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice, British superspy James Bond puts up at “the Okura, the best of the Western ones”.


  1. ^ hotel’s website. (
  2. ^ Prince Charles and Princess Diana. (

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