Throwback Thursday: The Sofitel in Ueno, Tokyo

Sofitel Shinobazu Pond, Ueno, Tokyo (1)The Sofitel Ueno, overlooking Ueno Park’s Shinobazu Pond, was one of my favorite (weird) buildings in Tokyo…until it was demolished in between late 2006 and mid-2008.  Heck, the Sofitel wasn’t around that long to begin with, opening only in 1994.

Sofitel Shinobazu Pond, Ueno, Tokyo (2)It was designed by the late Kiyonori Kikutake (菊竹 清訓), one of the prominent architects in the Japanese Metabolist movement.  According to this site, the trapezoidal design was meant to illustrate the concept of a tree of life in the Shinto belief.  Originally, Shinto shrines were groves or forests, whereas the term yorishiro (依り代) referred to a natural object capable of accommodating kami (), or spirits, for religious ceremonies.  Given that trees often have a towering presence, they were the best candidates to become yorishiro. Spookier still, tree branches – or in the case of this hotel, the jagged edges of the trapezoids – represented deceased ancestors watching over the lives of their descendants.  So, if your hotel room had skylights…

Cool architecture for sure, and here’s to hoping that a newer version will be coming to a Japanese capital near you.



This entry was posted in Architecture, East & Southeast Asia, Hotels, Japan, Languages and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Throwback Thursday: The Sofitel in Ueno, Tokyo

  1. What a crazy looking hotel. Any idea why they decided to tear it down?


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