Workers Are Tearing Down Tokyo's Hotel Okura, And History's Going With It

  • 2015-10-28
  • npr.org

In Tokyo, workers have started tearing down a Japanese landmark — the Hotel Okura. The Okura is a treasure of 1960s modernist design and has hosted every American president since Richard Nixon, Hollywood royalty and actual royalty.

"The service there is something very special. The lobby attendants, the women in their kimonos, the men in their tuxes," says former U.S. ambassador John Roos, who served in Japan during President Obama's first term. "It's a place that people from all over the world have come to stay and to admire."

But it's the Japanese modernist design — evocative of a timeless cool — that led historical preservationists and architecture lovers around the world to try to keep the main building from undergoing demolition, which is now under way.