End of an era / Monocle / 2015

End of an era / Monocle / 2015


Footnotes

One of the most impressive aspects of Tokyo’s winning bid for the 2020 Olympic Games was its pledge to use existing venues, many of which are now classics – such as Mamoru Yamada’s Budokan judo arena or Kenzo Tange’s stunning Yoyogi National Stadium – that were built for the 1964 Games. The Okura was part of that effort to make Tokyo shine as it emerged from the devastation of the war. How sad to think that it won’t be there for the second act. In the future, anyone interested in seeing what the original Okura looked like will have to watch the 1966 Cary Grant film Walk, Don’t Run, which is set during the first Tokyo Olympics and opens with a scene at the hotel. ➡︎

It would be wrong to belittle this conflict as a collision between hipster and business values; hence, the case of the Okura Hotel also highlights a cultural difference that designates a different consciousness of impermanence in Japan. In fact, the aesthetic appreciation of ephemeral things, such as fireworks or seasonal beauty, sadly also coincides with the transience that frequently confronts Japanese homes with the reality of earthquakes and fires. Encouraged by frequently improving regulations to contain damage from such threats, buildings are frequently rebuilt instead of retrofitted, resulting in a notoriously short lifespan of Japanese homes of less than 30 years. But what may at first appear highly pragmatic or sober, can also be found in the tradition of renewal, as is the case for the periodic rebuilding of Shinto shrines – a ritual called shikinen sengu – that for the Ise Jingu has been taking place for 1,300 years. Although already "reborn” 62 times, the shrine is, nonetheless, considered original. ➡︎

Modernity is permanently recyclable in Japan, and seeking out the new is in fact the country’s oldest tradition. ➡︎


Extras

◼︎ The Fast Lane: Let’s save a masterpiece / Tyler Brûlé / Financial Times / 2014

◼︎ Blueprint for perfection / Tyler Brûlé / Financial Times / 2014

◼︎ Hotel Okura closure will rob presidents and secret agents of a Tokyo landmark / Anna Fifield for the Washington Post / The Guardian / 2015

◼︎ The End of a Treasure in Tokyo / Sarah Boxer / The New York Times / 2015


Sources

◼︎ Final Check-Out / Fiona Wilson / Monocle / 2014

◼︎ You only live twice / Andreas Kofler / Domus / 2014

◼︎ In Japan, History Has No Place / Pico Iyer / The New York Times / 2015


Hotel Okura / Matthew Allard ACS / Al Jazeera / 2016

Hotel Okura / Matthew Allard ACS / Al Jazeera / 2016

Japanese Collection Ep.2: NA House by Sou Fujimoto / Vincent Hecht / 2012

Japanese Collection Ep.2: NA House by Sou Fujimoto / Vincent Hecht / 2012