You probably don’t need more reason to fly to Tokyo, but we’ll throw you one anyway. Opened in late 2018, Nohga Hotel Ueno is run on the concept of creating an experience unique to its location and the community. Everything in the hotel — from staff uniforms to shoehorns — is made by artisans from Ueno, a district known for shrines and parks, and surrounding areas. The regularly updated art featured in its communal areas, for instance, is by students at the nearby Tokyo University of the Arts. The hotel also hosts a variety of cultural experiences for guests — fancy a workshop on the traditional paper-cutting techniques used to create kamon family crests?
Fans of Japanese minimalist chic will also love holing up in any of the hotel’s 130 rooms (in doubles, twins and one gorgeous suite with a prime view of the Tokyo Skytree) where décor and amenities are also sourced locally, from the furniture (by Time & Style, whose recent collaborations include one with starchitect Kengo Kuma) to the toiletries (by Dear Mayuko). Even the leather “Do Not Disturb” signs and wooden hangers come from a nearby workshop called SyuRo, where each piece is carefully crafted in the spirit of monozukuri, a concept of making things with an intense focus on quality.
Another big plus: Despite being a major transport hub, gritty Ueno hasn’t yet undergone the sterilizing development currently redefining huge swathes of western Tokyo — it still offers visitors an experience of the shitamachi, which means “lower city”, the Edo-period neighborhoods in which common folk lived. Ueno Park and its cluster of major museums are also just opposite Ueno Station from Nohga.
The hotel’s ethos extends to the ground-floor restaurant, where a seasonal mod-Italian menu features Japanese produce and artisanal ingredients. The cuisine here comes presented on Japanese tableware and the friendly staff are quick to pair dishes with domestic craft beer, wine and liquor served in delicate Kimura glassware.
Check online for opening promo prices. nohgahotel.com
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This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of Smile magazine.