Nacasa & Partners



Vol.10
The Reborn Oriental Hotel Kobe
- Opening Report
Part 2.
Reception Party Report
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On 26 February 2010, only five days before the grand opening, a reception party was held to celebrate the world Kosaka and Okada described as the “Orient Reborn.”


01. Out of the Elevator and into “the Orient”

02. Combining Fun and Relaxation
03. Showcasing the Essence of Kobe in an Essential Location
04. The Orient in Painting
05. Close the Window and Open up to Asia
06. The Playful Plan Do See Attitude
07. Omotenashi All the Way



01. Out of the Elevator and into “the Orient”

Just 10 seconds after swimming through the endless waves of guests and squeezing into a packed elevator, we peered into the space before us and an embodiment of the new interpretation of “the orient” took shape right before our eyes. Three women clad in brightly colored kimono and two women in business suits welcomed us with warm smiles.
Through his design of the reborn Oriental Hotel, Ryu Kosaka opened up a new concept of “the orient,” that goes beyond simply retracing the Japanese image of “the orient” and incorporates foreign ideas drawn from Asian resorts in Japan, China, and across the continent.
The women in kimono and suits were in charge of reception at the party. Together, the women in colorful and enchanting red, pink, and green kimono and those in sophisticated and stylish beige suits elegantly attended to the entering guests. This mixture of Western and Japanese fashion set the ideal tone for the hotel interior and highlighted the new aesthetic of the Oriental Hotel.

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02. Combining Fun and Relaxation

Upon ascending to the party on the 4th floor, the temperature appeared to rise by a few degrees. Enveloped in a mass of black-haired heads, glancing at the drink counter we noticed the numerous empty bottles of Moët et Chandon lined up along the bar…and the party was still less than an hour old.
Making our way through the crowd we set our eyes on the party’s host, so to speak, Plan Do See president Yutaka Noda.
With the heat of the room, Noda was dabbing the sweat from his brow in between conversations as he as he blew through the room like a whirlwind, all the while explaining the vision of the new hotel.
“In the past, I have done places like With the Style Fukuoka and The Luigans, but this was my first time to try a type of ‘city hotel’ right in the center of town. Since the customer base is wider than with those previous hotels, we made sure the design offered a relaxing design that makes most people feel comfortable, while at the same time keeps with the playful attitude of Plan Do See. And since it’s also important as a wedding hall, we hope many young women find it appealing.”

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03. Showcasing the Essence of Kobe in an Essential Location

PhotoAmong the hotel’s various Asian flourishes, the 4th floor features a strong sense of Japanese style. Hirokaki Iijima, of Do Be Company, handled the creative direction for graphic materials.
Iijima explains “Historically, Kobe has been home to many foreigners, and it has been a place where various imported things, from architecture to food—especially sweets and cakes—have been introduced to Japan. Of those foreign imports, we cannot forget to include jazz music. Kobe is known as the birthplace of jazz in Japan, so we arranged the bathrooms, which are places a lot of visitors see, along a jazz theme.”
As the location of the banquet hall and chapel, the 4th floor is a major floor for the hotel. Since the floor receives so much foot traffic, the 4th floor bathrooms will probably be the most frequently used in the whole hotel.
Diagonally across from the chapel, you pass along a dimly lit walkway on the way to the bathroom, and the effect is just like you accidentally wandered into a jazz bar. The bathroom walls are adorned with framed posters featuring jazz record company logos and photographs of jazz musicians. Gazing at the posters set against the green-colored retro tiling, it makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the heyday of Kobe’s jazz age. On the other floors, the walls are done in a motif of bamboo and flower illustrations, so only the 4th floor boasts this special design.
As Iijima puts it, “Following the themes Tradition, Design, and Innovation, these posters maintain a classical sensibility while incorporating contemporary elements that results in a unique, reformulated style.”
Each of the posters includes the Oriental Hotel name and logo and uses vivid colors, yet at the same time, the design strikes a pleasantly nostalgic tone.

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04. The Orient in Painting

Ascending to the lobby on the 17th floor, the elevator doors open up to reveal a nighttime view of Kobe Harbor. Fans hang from the ceiling to comfortably circulate the air, while large a fireplace attracts attention on one side of the lobby. This is the atmosphere of the port city of Kobe.
Occupying same floor are The House of the Pacific, the main dining room; Medium Rare, a steakhouse; Kobe, a sushi restaurant; and J. W. Hart, a bar. In the summer time, nothing could be better than to sit out on the outdoor terrace of J. W. Hart, soak up the summer breeze, and raise a glass to Mt. Rokko and the nightscape of Kobe.
The floor is “joined” together by series of paintings on the walls separating the different restaurants. The artwork, titled Joinable 7, is by Bae Sang Sun, a Korean artist living in Kyoto.

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“I suppose a Korean living in Japan made a good match for this hotel’s concept of a ‘melting pot’ of the orient,” Bae added with a grin.



05. Close the Window and Open up to Asia

Ascending to the lobby on the 17th floor, the elevator doors open up to reveal a nighttime view of Kobe Harbor. Fans hang from the ceiling to comfortably circulate the air, while large a fireplace attracts attention on one side of the lobby. This is the atmosphere of the port city of Kobe.
Occupying same floor are The House of the Pacific, the main dining room; Medium Rare, a steakhouse; Kobe, a sushi restaurant; and J. W. Hart, a bar. In the summer time, nothing could be better than to sit out on the outdoor terrace of J. W. Hart, soak up the summer breeze, and raise a glass to Mt. Rokko and the nightscape of Kobe.

PhotoThe floor is “joined” together by series of paintings on the walls separating the different restaurants. The artwork, titled Joinable 7, is by Bae Sang Sun, a Korean artist living in Kyoto.
“I suppose a Korean living in Japan made a good match for this hotel’s concept of a ‘melting pot’ of the orient,” Bae added with a grin.

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06. The playful Plan Do See attitude

Even as Plan Do See stepped into the arena and gave shape to a “city hotel,” they did not forget how to include a playful attitude that brings a smile to guests’ faces. The lights in the bathrooms can be adjusted with a dimmer switch to set just the right mood. The mini bar is stocked with eight cans of different alcoholic drinks plus a half-size bottle of Veuve Clicquot, allowing guests to sit back on the comfortable sofa and relax with a fine drink. Champagne is even on the breakfast menu, just in case guests want to skip their usual morning cup of tea or coffee and start the day with a glass of champagne instead.
In the hotel entrance on the 1st floor, along with pictures of the Oriental Hotel from about the 1920s to the 1940s, there is a picture of Noda and Kosaka wearing period fashions and a collage with images of other members of the Plan Do See staff.
Iijima fondly recalls how “Mr. Noda really got into character when we took the pictures. He is wearing a sailor uniform in this picture, but in others he tried out actual army uniforms, and he looked great while holding a genuine Japanese katana sword!”

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07. Omotenashi All the Way

Leaving behind party—and the empty bottles of Moët et Chandon—we got back on the elevator and went on to the after-party at another venue.
The women on the elevator, faces flushed with the effects of the champagne, couldn’t help but smile at the comment: “I guess all of you bloggers will be writing about the Oriental Hotel on your blogs tomorrow.”
Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, the next voice came from the elevator itself, announcing “Two or three more guests can ride the elevator.” Then, “The elevator will now commence moving.”
Another guest observed, “I’ve never been in an elevator like this before,” which drew another round of big smiles from the female guests.
We couldn’t help but smile too; but actually, it’s the little touches like that which make the hotel such an enjoyable place. From the first step into the party to the last step as we left, the hotel never failed to induce such smiles from guests by offering an extraordinary experience of omotenashi, a Japanese word that expresses a special kind of heartfelt hospitality. Plan Do See’s slogan is “Omotenashi Hotels,” a spirit which proves to be well-represented at the reborn Oriental Hotel.

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>>> go to Part 1



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Oriental Hotel

25 Kyomachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe,
650-0034, Japan
Tel +81-78-326-1500
http://www.orientalhotel.jp

Text: Hiroki Yanagisawa (Freelance Editor)
Edit: Nobuko Ohara (Nacása & Partners Inc.)