Friday, April 17, 2015

Sleeping under the Sakura Tree - Park Hotel's Artist Room by Hiroko Otake

When in Tokyo, I always stay only at the Park Hotel in Shiodome, a few steps away from the head office.  While I have tried other hotels in the area, I prefer this hotel for its quiet, relaxing ambience and discreet stylish elegance.

Park Hotel is on the 24th to the 34th floor of the Shiodome Media Tower,  also the headquarters of Kyodo News, a non profit Japanese news organisation.  

The past couple of years, the hotel has embarked on an arts program -- inviting well known and contemporary Japanese artists to showcase their work in the hotel.  The artwork is not confined to just exhibits in the lobby and public areas -- rather the art is brought right into the guest rooms themselves.  Featured artists are invited to create a special "Artist Room" with themes of their own choosing.

On my last business trip to Tokyo this March, I decided to book my stay in an Artist Room.
Since it was almost sakura season,  I was happy to choose the " cherry blossoms" room so that I could sleep with sakura all around me.  This particular room featured art done by Ms Hiroko Otake.

The entire hotel room is the artist's canvas.  As I entered my room, Otake san's happy blue butterflies greeted me at the hallway entrance.

This hardly prepared me for this  astonishing,  stunning sight --  a gorgeous cherry blossom tree in full bloom.  Pink sakura, petals and butterflies seemed to shower down on the bed.
Dreamy gold clouds made up of separate gold leaves added warmth and richness.
What  dreams would I have amidst all this breathtaking beauty?

Otake san's  large sakura tree trunk dominated a corner of the room -- spreading out blossom laden branches throughout the two walls.  Butterflies continued their flight on the dark blue ceiling.  
It was an enchanting, captivating sight.  I felt like I was part of one big magical canvas.  
And I was almost sorry to spoil the effect by my presence.  
Perhaps I thought,  I should sleep in the bathroom and preserve this scene, unsullied by my ordinary, messy self.

Gold butterflies flitted about wherever I looked, even behind the small t.v. on the work desk.
Each day of my stay,  I hurried back to Park Hotel as soon as my meetings ended to luxuriate in my delightful surroundings.
And for once, I kept the t.v. turned off throughout  -- it didn't seem right to watch sordid and mundane affairs such as the world news on CNN in the midst of a peaceful and tranquil setting.

It took quite an effort to break my gaze from Otake san's art, so soft, serene and timeless,  to view the steel and concrete city that unfolded below me.  
I always book a room with the view of Tokyo Tower at the Park Hotel.
Then I would sit and watch the changing colours of the city skyline, a panorama  I never grew tired of.
This time, the blues, pinks and gold of the art on my walls perfectly complemented the vista that unfolded outside my window.

This small plaque with Otake san's  bio data and brief description of her artwork and her aesthetic    was tucked discreetly on one portion of the wall.  As I read her message about the sakura and its meaning and symbolism, I appreciated her art and her aesthetic even more.

Domo arigato gozaimashita, Park Hotel Tokyo and Otake san.
I am truly grateful for this extraordinary stay --  it was brief but utterly exquisite -- just like the remarkable sakura.

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