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Frank Lloyd Wright Designs the Imperial Hotel in Japan

Updated on July 19, 2014

Views from The Imperial Hotel

Frank Lloyd Wright

Known as the organic architect, Wright born in June 8, 1867 and died on April 9, 1959 was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator. He created structures in which harmony with humanity and its environment became his mission. Wright designed more than 1000 structures and completed 532 works.

Imperial Palace Hotel

Built in 1890 with a neo-Renaissance facade, the first Imperial Palace was designed by Yuzuru Watanabe. Located near the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, the western-style hotel is located in the popular Ginza neighborhood.

The second designer to enhance the property was Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1917, Wright started designing "The Jewel of the Orient," however cost delays and a fire held up the opening until September 1923. When the Great Kanto earthquake struck, Wright incorporated steel re-enforcement into the structure. It didn't suffer the damage that most of the buildings surrounding the magnificent hotel did.

The hotel suffered serious damage due to air raids in Tokyo in 1945. During 1964, the hotel was the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee.

In the 1970s Japan recovery rose and the country's GNP grew to become the highest in the world. The current hotel opened in 1970 on the site of Watanabe and Wright's hotels. It now has 17 floors with 777 guest rooms.

There is one wall down in the lobby that is preserved from the Frank Lloyd Wright era.

Frank Lloyd Wright design

The original Frank Lloyd Wright design at the Imperial Hotel
The original Frank Lloyd Wright design at the Imperial Hotel

Famous Guests

Marilyn Monroe and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio visited the Imperial Hotel on their honeymoon in 1954. A reporter approached Monroe and asked her what did she wear in bed? This is where she replied, "Chanel No. 5."

Bob Hope visited Japan on his tour to the Korean War and stayed at The Imperial in 1950. Danny Kaye stayed here in 1951.

The Imperial Hotel served 7,000 meals to 94 different countries at the Olympic Village during the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

In 1975 H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince Philip visited Japan and enjoyed a luncheon at the Imperial Hotel by the Japan-British Society.

Gerald Ford was the first U.S. President to visit Japan after the end of World War II.

Frank Lloyd Wright-style Windows

Wright inspired design
Wright inspired design


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When to Visit Japan

January and February is usually dry and sunny, except in Northern Japan and along the Sea of Japan coast where they receive a lot of snowfall.

Towards the end of March the Cherry Blossoms bloom creating beautiful scenery throughout Japan.

In June there is still some rain, however the temperatures for traveling can be quite pleasant.

The rainy season typically ends in the first half of July. It is hot and humid in most of Japan, and just standing outdoors can make you sweat. The conditions are more comfortable in higher elevations during the summer months.

Mt. Fuji is open for hiking in July. August is hot and humid in most of Japan.

The typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September. Typhoons usually hit with strong rain and wind in wide parts or all of Japan for about two days. Typhoons are often followed by clear weather. The weather in September can still be quite hot and humid, but the crowds of August have mostly disappeared.

October is one of the most pleasant months for traveling in Japan as the weather remains warm, but is not hot and humid anymore.

In November and December Japan is usually dry and mild for traveling.

Wright style chairs

Map of Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

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Eat and Be Merry at The Imperial Hotel

In contemporary Japanese, the word "Viking" means buffet. Up on the 17th floor of the hotel is an elegant buffet with uniformed waiters, linen table cloths and pristine silverware. We dined here every morning while staying at the Imperial.

In 1958, the Imperial Hotel offered guests Japan's very first buffet dining restaurant, the Imperial Hotel's Viking Sal smorgasbord. It offered and continues to provide today a global assortment of tantalizing appetizers, soups, salads, chilled selections, roasts, fine hot entrees and desserts -- many prepared right in front of you. A royal feast for the eye and palate.

A "Toko-an" Japanese Tea Ceremony is a set of three ceremonial chambers, all in the prescribed sukiya style. Guests are invited to sit on tatami mat floors and watch as their tea is prepared in the traditional fashion. Hours 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays and National Holidays. Make advance reservations prior to your visit.

Views from the Imperial Viking Sal



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    • Jill Weinlein profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Weinlein 

      4 years ago from Southern California

      Sure, 2enjoylife8.

    • 2enjoylife8 profile image


      4 years ago from Amidst a cloud of creative energy.

      Thanks for more detail.


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