Friday, May 13, 2016

Rooms Worth a View

‘Artist in Hotel’ project scores a hit with foreign tourists in Tokyo

The Asahi Shimbun  by MAKIKO IKENAGA/ Staff Writer  May 13, 2016

Guests staying in this room at the Park Hotel Tokyo can enjoy the work of artist Aki Narita. (Makiko Ikenaga)

Frequent travelers often complain that one hotel room blends into the next, but that’s not the scene at the Park Hotel Tokyo, thanks to its unique modern Japanese art-adorned rooms.

The walls and ceiling of one room on the 31st floor of the hotel, in the capital’s Shiodome district, are covered with a work titled "Geisha Goldfish" by Aki Narita, 49.

The room is one of what will eventually be 31 under the hotel’s “Artist in Hotel" project. Each room features a different artist or gallery displaying their works.

The project began in 2012 and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Twenty rooms have so far been given an artistic makeover, with two more currently in the process.

The Artist in Hotel rooms cost 5,000 yen ($46) a night more than other rooms of a similar size, but have proven very popular among foreign tourists. About 90 percent of guests who stay at the artist rooms are from abroad.

When the hotel was established in 2003, about half of the guests were foreign visitors. However, the effects of the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 as well as the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami led to a period when there were very few overseas guests.

Park Hotel Tokyo shows off Japanese aesthetics with hand-painted murals in rooms  by Siyah Randhawa August 14, 2014 
Park Hotel Tokyo can well be described as extreme eclecticism in terms of art. While any hotel lobby or common area allows for a scarce squint at the Warhol or Picasso artwork, Park Hotel Tokyo will let you eat, live, breathe and sleep art. As part of its ‘Artist in Hotel’ project, the hotel has commissioned renowned artists to design part gallery, part bedroom for guests who are interested in Japanese aesthetics and seek creative experiences along with their bed and breakfast.

The hotel has until now transformed eight standard guest rooms into Artist Rooms encapsulating creator’s views of the world, with their painting or art objects based on the inspiration they obtained while staying at the hotel. Park Hotel Tokyo plans to add nine Artist Rooms per year over the next three years to create an entire Artist Floor, totaling 31 rooms.

The first Artist in Hotel room is dedicated to the Japanese national sport of Sumo. Artist Hiroyuki Kimura, an avid fan and captures the sumo wrestlers training every day by visiting various sumo stables.

Produced by calligrapher Seihaku Akiba, the Artist Room Zen has powerful Japanese characters scribed on the room walls. The room invites those staying to find tranquility in an urban setting.

This room features Washi, traditional Japanese paper, as its theme. The Japanese paper artist, Naoki Takenouchi, carves the wooden blocks used for the printing by hand and produced 108 demi-gods which are found in the room in this manner.

Artist Kiyoko Abe created the fourth room with the ‘Dragon’ theme. Looking out over Tokyo Tower from the huge window, the Dragon floats in. Taking the walls of the room as if a horizontal sheet of paper, she painted the story of the natural world.

For the fifth room, artist Nobuo Magome chose a “room where you can see the sky the best when you are lying in bed”. He’s drawn a host of supernatural creatures all over the room, from the ceiling to the walls.

In the sixth project, painter Ryosuke Yasumoto drew animals themed on the 12 signs of the Zodiac covering the whole room which look like they’re about to come to life.

In the seventh project, calligrapher Masako Inkyo residing in New York decorated a room based on the theme of an ancient anthology of 100 traditional Japanese poems by 100 poets.

Artist Nanami Ishihara paints lively Japanese festivals for the eighth project. At the festival, there are girls clad in yukata, and animals come along too.

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