Tokyo’s got style. From soaring skyscrapers to fashionable residents, the city is on the cutting edge of everything. I’m in the Japanese capital to discover many sides of Tokyo, but the thing that keeps catching my eye is its unique brand of design. And I see that most clearly in the architecture.
I’ve traveled to Japan with the & TOKYO Project. They’ve sponsored my trip and given me the opportunity to discover the city’s 5 core values: Unique&TOKYO, Excellent&TOKYO, Exciting&TOKYO, Delight&TOKYO, and Comfort&TOKYO.
Over the course of four days, I’m exploring a range of sights that embody those principles and allow me to experience the essence of the city firsthand. A number of the places—from fashionable shops to apartment blocks—are architectural.
And the most unique of them all is the “Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA -In Memory of Helen Keller-“. Way out in the western part of the city, this complex is the candy shop of apartment buildings.
Designed by Arakawa + Gins, the building is home to the first residential units designed “to not to die”, meaning they provide different uses for each individual according to her or his physical abilities and age.
Philosophy aside, they’re playful and colorful and like nothing I’ve ever seen (which is probably why they featured on Girls). They’re UNIQUE&Tokyo for sure.
Back in the city center, I discover more of Tokyo’s style in the shops. I love that luxury brands here put as much emphasis on the design of their buildings as they do on the design of their products. From Stella McCartney to Dior, the architecture is as fashionable as the season’s latest collections.
I find this particularly true at the Prada Aoyama shop, where Herzog & de Meuron’s glass diamonds climb the facade. Illuminated against the night sky, the futuristic shell looks like a spaceship about to take off for a more stylish planet. This is Exciting&TOKYO.
And over in Chiyoda, my most comfortable architectural discovery is the new HOSHINOYA Tokyo hotel. Its sleek exterior is covered with sensuous metalwork that foreshadows an interior straight out of a design magazine. Given it opened five days before my arrival in Japan, I’m lucky enough to be one of the first to stay here.
As soon as I enter, my shoes come off and my calm comes on. The staff is infinitely friendly and my room is a haven of traditional Japanese tranquility. I love hotels that embody the culture of their country, and this is just that kind of place. I’m even given a kimono to wear while I’m inside.
On the top floor is an onsen, or hot spring, which has the amazing architectural feature of a tall ceiling opening up to the sky. It’s like staring out from the bottom of a volcano, and when it rains one night I bask in the sensation of fresh raindrops on my skin as I soak in the hot water.
On the lower ground floor is a restaurant where I enjoy a French-inspired Japanese meal of some of the best and most beautiful food I’ve had on the trip.
From fish and beef to impeccable petit fours, the dinner is a tour of Japan through my eyes, nose, and mouth.
Bottom to top, the HOSHINOYA Tokyo has impressed me. I spend half my life in hotels and it’s a delight when one surpasses my expectations as greatly as this one. Comfort&TOKYO is the perfect way to describe this place.
Which makes it hard to convince myself to get out and see more of Tokyo. But I’m going to explore the city beyond the architectural highlights, and I hope you’ll come with me as I do.
To be continued…