A hotel where one can enjoy Japanese-style minimalism
Tokyo’s Ginza is a neighborhood of inexhaustible charm. It has world-class jewelers and antique shops, kaiseki and ethnic restaurants as well as food carts under the train tracks and theater ranging from Noh to Kabuki to the famed Takarazuka Revue. It’s a favored destination for grownups deep enough to delve into, allowing one to experience the best of an Eastern metropolis. For those in search of this Ginza, staying smack dab in the middle has a certain special allure. I highly recommend an early morning, pre-dawn stroll; it’s really interesting to experience this district’s first breaths of the day, just as it awakens.
MUJI’s ideology is grounded in simplicity: the state of mind in which one feels no inferiority towards luxury, but rather a sense of pride in restraint. MUJI was founded in 1980, at the height of Japan’s bubble economy. MUJI HOTEL came about over the generations, spawned by the original rapport between Seiji Tsutsumi, a businessperson devoted to the rationalization of sales and distribution, and designer Ikko Tanaka, who endeavored to create a distinct lifestyle aesthetic. It could be argued that the hotel came about as a medium for experiences, derived from the objects that were MUJI’s first products.
In 2019, MUJI opened a new flagship store in Tokyo. A MUJI shop spans the area from the basement to the fifth floor. From the sixth to the tenth floor is the first MUJI HOTEL in Japan. Both the guest rooms and the public areas are finished in wood, metal and earth, natural materials making the space one of very special textures. The appointment of the guest rooms is unassuming, but, every detail painstakingly considered, reflects a thoughtful minimalism. Consistency has been achieved throughout, marking everything from outlets to user interfaces, receipts to room keys.
What’s interesting about the MUJI HOTEL is that one can experience the Mujirushi ideology not through products alone but through a contextualized living space. Today, the MUJI line, which began as 40 products, includes 7500, broadly divided into clothing, daily necessities and foodstuffs. Here, items that become the backdrop to our lives, like cotton swabs, tissue paper, slippers, toothbrushes, towels, desks, lamps and beds, are not items arranged in a store, but can be experienced as amenities in a hotel.
Almost everything one sees, the teakettle and the coffee maker, the aroma diffuser and the alarm clock, the air purifier and the wall-mounted bluetooth speakers, are MUJI products. Open the drawers and cupboards to reveal more MUJI items: notebooks, coffee cups, spoons, …. and the volume on the table is MUJI BOOK. Writing this now, I realize it may sound impertinent, but… the aesthetic sequence--fine, thorough, delicate and simple--is designed to make one singularly comfortable.
The sixth floor is where the lobby is located, but is a special space. Known as ATELIER MUJI, it is a combination gallery, library, bar and shop. On display here is a clearly curated collection of modern products by interior designer Keiji Nagai, from Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu, providing design lovers with enlightening material, while those less so inclined can enjoy a quick glimpse of the essence of design philosophy.