Feature: Anas Al Horani. Photography: Courtesy of Park Hotel Tokyo
At the Park Hotel Tokyo, art is everywhere
When the 273-room Park Hotel Tokyo opened in 2003, it was a regular hotel with a distinct location: not far from the Ginza district, and occupying the 25th to 34th floors of the triangular Shiodome Media Tower. Although that was enough for a while, in 2008, following global recession, the Park’s occupancy rates fell, and in 2011, after the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history, which brought widespread devastation, a deadly tsunami, a nuclear accident and another economic disaster, the hotel’s occupancy rates became almost nonexistent.
By the time of the 10th anniversary, however, Yuko Matsubara, the PR manager for the Park Hotel Tokyo, made plans to commission an artwork in honour of the anniversary. After some deliberation, the Park’s management decided to commission artworks directly on the walls. In 2012, the Park hotel hired artist Hiroyuki Kimura to paint something that reflects Japanese culture and aesthetic identity, and Kimura, an artist and sumo wrestler, turned the room into a sumo sanctuary. The paintings, done in sumi ink, were powerful and bold. They were, more importantly, a radical shift from the more timid and formal identity of the hotel.
With sumo sculptures and a small rendering of the artist in sumo drag, Artist room King Sumo by artist Hiroyuki Kimura sold surprisingly very well. Soon, a decision was made to convert all of the floor’s 33 rooms to artist rooms, each the vision of a different Japanese artist. That decision proved to be the best since the Park’s establishment.
The artist rooms differ in themes, colours and moods. Artist room Kabuki by artist Yamaguchi Keisuke (known as OZ), is a thrilling but elegant room completely defined by imaginative depictions of Kabuki theatre figures. Artist room Samurai by artist Kenyu Mitsuhashi is a minimalist affair, with depictions reduced to lush colours and geometric lines that compliment the antique Japanese sword above the bed. These elements appear in harmony with their adjacent technological counterparts. The walls of artist room Queen Castle by artist Kazuki Mizuguchi seem adorned with rich, authentic gold leaf, and the artist room Queen Otafuku Face comes with a large drawing of the famous Otafuku face (a homely, cheery figure who is also a bringer of happiness), from whose cheeks cherries seem to blossom. A quick tour in the Park’s 31st floor reveals the glamorous artistry of each of its rooms.
The opulence of the Park Hotel Tokyo isn’t only evident in its 31st floor rooms, but also in all of its services and facilities. The Park’s lobby welcomes guests with a warmth and style that never wavers throughout the length of stay, and the reception view is an appropriately hyperrealistic slice of modern Tokyo. Overlooking the vast panorama of the capital, the atrium, which is flooded with sunlight in the morning and submerged with lights and beams at night, features teak and granite flooring, and the original wooden artwork is fused with stone objects, trees and flowers. From the atrium one can enjoy the view of the Shiodome and Shimbashi districts, as well as the skyscrapers of Shinjuku in the distance.
Guests are reportedly always worried about touching the artworks in the artist rooms, and the staff members are all informed to encourage them to touch the art and take photos. Inside the Park Hotel Tokyo, this encouragement seems to extend not only to artworks, but also to every other element around: guests are encouraged to engage, experience and react.