Tokyo's Famed Hotel Okura Auctions Furniture, Memorabilia

November 04,2015
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Hotel Okura closed for renovation in the end of August.  (Photo by Jinichiro Kazama)

(AFP)--Fans of Tokyo's soon-to-be demolished Hotel Okura are getting a chance to purchase memorabilia from the sixties-era modernist masterpiece, which has hosted world leaders, British royalty and even fictional superspy James Bond.

The beloved hotel turned its lights off at the end of August after decades of serving high-rollers and is slated to become a gleaming high-rise hotel despite an outcry from preservationists.

The operator of the prestigious 53-year-old hotel said furniture and other items are being auctioned off, including pieces from the top-notch Imperial and Royal suites.

The hotel, located across from the U.S. embassy atop a hill in central Tokyo, has housed a string of foreign leaders, celebrities and royalty, including American presidents Richard Nixon and Barack Obama, Britain's Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

In Ian Fleming's 1964 novel "You Only Live Twice" set in Japan, suave British agent 007 stayed there.

The online auction, which began Wednesday and will continue until December 20, is offering more than 300 items.

Gems include a sofa set and a sideboard from the VIP rooms and dining tables and chairs from the hotel's restaurants.

Brown armchairs from the now-closed Orchid Room eatery are also on sale.

Decorative items made from objects found in the hotel will also be sold, including jewellery from chandelier pieces and pillows made out of wallcloth.

Those items will be sold on a first-come basis, the hotel said.

"We had many customers asking about the fate of the furniture before closing the main wing," an Okura spokeswoman told AFP.

But iconic items from the hotel's main lobby -- its "Okura lanterns" and red lacquer tables with modernist chairs -- will be kept for use in the new building set to open in early 2019, she said.

While an Okura annex building next door is avoiding the wrecking ball, the main wing -- which opened in 1962 -- will be torn down despite petitions from home and abroad to stop the demolition.

The main wing will make way for a 510-room twin-tower hotel, extending up to 41 storeys.

The hotel said proceeds from the auction and sale will go to a charity promoting music and art in areas of northeastern Japan hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.