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Tuesday, 1st September 2015
In General Japan News,

Iconic Hotel Okura closes its doors for the last time

Anyone planning a trip to Japan will have to seek alternative accommodation to the iconic Hotel Okura, as the 1960s landmark in Tokyo has hosted its final guest.

Scheduled for demolition at the end of September, the heavyweight of Japanese modernist design will no longer see guests welcomed by attendants in traditional kimono dress.

The Hotel Okura has changed very little since it opened in 1962 and it is this that has apparently led to its downfall.

An Okura spokeswoman told news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP): "It is difficult for us now to provide a top Japanese hotel due to the building's age."

Over the years, the hotel hosted movie stars and world leaders, with the president of the USA Barack Obama having stayed at the building as recently as 2009.

Okura's iconic status was only increased when it appeared in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Tadashi Yamane, a professor of urban design at Tokyo City University, told the news agency: "It is a destruction of culture. This building is a one and only, which truly integrates Japanese aesthetics with a Western-style hotel."

Despite an online petition to save the hotel, it is set to be redeveloped with two glass towers to stand in its place and represent a new age of design in Tokyo.

Yoshio Taniguchi, who is the architect responsible for the new incarnation of the building, is the son of one of those behind the original design.

His creation will feature 41 storeys, complete with 510 rooms and is expected to open to the public in 2019.

It is the height of the new building that shows the need for redevelopment, as the current 11 storeys doesn't make the most of its floor print in a city where downtown real estate is worth more than $250,000 (£163,000) per square metre.

Therefore the Okura's sea cucumber tiles, opulent furnishings and gentle elegance are to be lost from the hotel offerings in Tokyo.