The more I travel, the more our accommodations blend together. Some are luxurious, some are comfortable, some aren’t at all as we expected, but they are all just rooms… a place to rest and a place to work. Our accommodation at Park Hotel Tokyo, however, was more than just a room… it was a unique work of art that shared a local artist’s view of the world.
The Park Hotel Tokyo’s Artist in Hotel project kicked off in 2012 – a response to the devastation that was felt throughout the country after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The period that followed had very few overseas guests and inspired the hotel to do something unique – something that would showcase the beauty of Japan to travelers through talented, local artists.
Renowned, Japanese artists were commissioned, and each were given a specific room to act as a blank canvas… from floor to ceiling. The hotel was transformed into a gallery, with today’s guests able to enjoy being part of a unique piece of art. There were 33 Artist Rooms earmarked for the project, 20 of which are now complete. Some rooms take weeks to finish, and some have taken months… one room has even been in progress for a whole year! Each artist is given the opportunity to let their creativity run wild, leading to an incredible amount of detail throughout each space.
The design is not confined simply to the rooms. The hallways leading to the rooms showcase creative works of art, displaying temporary exhibits hosted by the hotel.
A towering Atrium is the heart of the property, greeting guests with soaring glass windows and incredible views of Tokyo Tower. The Atrium also shows off works from a diverse group of local artists, from young to deceased.
There’s something truly unique about a hotel that infuses art, design and comfort in such beautiful ways. What is most impressive though, is telling a story with each room. That’s what makes the Artist Rooms at Park Hotel Tokyo so unique. Each space tells an extraordinary story, and I’m excited to share with you a few of my favorites…
Sumo by Hiroyuki Kimura
To many Japanese, Sumo is more than a national sport. Its significance is deeply rooted in Japanese social history, with ceremonial movements associated with good living. Inspired by the tradition of Sumo, Hiroyuki used Japanese black ink to sketch the wrestler’s daily exercise on the walls, made traditional sculptures, and included Sumo surprises in creative places throughout the space. This powerful room allows you to experience “the magic of sumo wrestlers dancing around the sumo ring.”
Lucky Cat by Hyogo Mino
You’ve probably seen the cute cats waving from store windows, especially if you’ve visited Japan! This ‘lucky cat’ is said to bring good fortune and more customers. There is also a famous Japanese novel called “I am a Cat” which many believe is symbolic of “the endless cycle of life and death”. Hyogo Mino’s floor-to-ceiling painting tells a story inspired by this novel, but one that incorporates his own cat who passed away. The pictures and phrases painted colorfully on the walls are extracts, starting with the end of the novel at the floor, and ending with the beginning at the top of the ceiling.
Edo-Tokyo by Hidetaka Furukawa
The old name for Tokyo and the imperial period before 1868 is “Edo”. During this time there was a samurai government, strong cultural traditions, and the landscape was drastically different. Hidetaka understands how easy it is to forget that the Japanese people are living in the same land as Edo people did – it’s difficult without actual remnants of the past. Inspired by city-scape surrounding the hotel, and with a vision that looks into the past, Hidetaka painted two perspectives on the walls. He showcases the same view with a time difference of 160 years, taking guests back in time. His wish is that visitors who enjoy his room “discover a little bit about the history of this town that lies behind its modern veneer.”
Yokai by Nobuo Magome
Yokai are supernatural beings prevalent in Japanese stories that have been handed down through the ages. They are sacred creatures, which can be good or evil based on “our” actions, and are often drawn as terrifying as a warning to people. Nobuo was inspired to do the opposite, creating happy Yokai that are personified in such a way he hopes you can see yourself in his creations. Nobuo has named each Yokai that is traveling up the wall, and each has a story, but as you gaze at the creatures circling their way to the top of the ceiling, it’s fun to create your own!
Beauty of Akita by Yuka Ohtani
One of the newest rooms, and the one we had the pleasure of staying in, had a lovely, cedar wood fragrance and beautiful design. Yuka was inspired by her time living in the Akita region, where the scenery, history and lifestyle gave her a strong sense of her own identity as a Japanese person. The room is decorated in Akita cedar wood, with painted window frames and serene images that share the scenery of this region, and the exquisite beauty for which Japan is famous.
Each Artist Room at the Park Hotel Tokyo is a showcase, encapsulating its creator’s passions and inspiring travelers with the beauty of Japan.