Opened in 1962 with the 1964 Japan Olympics in mind, the Okura has hosted a long line of movie stars and dignitaries including every American president since Nixon. Since the Tokyu Capitol was redveloped a few years ago, the Okura is now the only hotel remaining in Tokyo from that era. But with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, it has sadly been earmarked for replacement by a modern glass tower. Now is the time to experience the hushed tones of its main lobby area and the famous beaten-copper tables of the Orchid Bar replicated in drinking establishments throughout the world. The hotel is a treasure trove of period pieces such as its map of time zones and the mural by the artist Tomimoto. Staff still wear kimonos, and subtle ikebana flower arrangements change seasonally and complement the soft woods of the interior. The rooms do show their age, but this is part of the Okura's charm in a city that seems obsessed with constant innovation and redevelopment. It is located in the otherwise quiet Embassy area of Toranomon, but is an easy taxi ride away from any of the key areas like Shinjuku, Roppongi and Ginza. The newer luxury hotels in Tokyo may be more familiar and immediately satsifying, but the Okura retains the charm of the Cary Grant movie 'Walk Don't Run' filmed here in 1966.
The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.Rudyard Kipling