Luxury Hotels

JAPAN – 2

Janu is Tokyo’s newest hotel and it’s also the first in Aman Group’s new brand.  Well, although it only opened in March in essence it’s been 30 years in the making, ever since the city authorities decided that an area of little old housing should evolve to be yet another new ‘city area’. Hence the lengthy transition to allow Mori to develop what is nowAzabudai Hills. There’s an amazing piazza and blocks that include a grass-roofed roller-coaster shape of residences (see the image below) and retail (Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and co). All this is designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Only about seven years ago Mori decided to put a hotel into one residential block. The 122-room Janu – ‘soul’ in Sanskrit – is the result. Interiors are all Jean-Michel Gathy, who has gone overboard with putty. The colour, that is. Rise to the fifth floor reception to find a solid black stone desk broken up, so to speak, by a mirrored panel. See above. Take one of three side-by-side elevators up to the appropriate putty-coloured bedroom floor.

Suite #1304, on the top lodging floor, must be more than double the starter room size (55 sq m). It’s got spacious living and bedrooms, and a bathroom with integral wet room – tub and enormous overhead rainforest. Of stand-out interest are putty-coloured wood pull-down blinds over both television, the exact inlay of carpeting into the otherwise soft oak flooring of both main rooms, the wheels on the front legs of easy chairs to make’em easy-move, absolutely simple blinds, light and temperature controls, and ample universal sockets, including USBs and USCs. See a video on YouTube. Main walls are cream. Putty, the colour, is reserved for lower walls, furniture and ceiling inset. There is no ‘art’ but some walls have giant area of pock-marked mud: the only book, Dorodango: The Japanese Art of Making Mud Balls, Bruce Gardner, explains the process.  The bed, by the way, is deliciously firm.

A two-metre wide balcony extends the entire length of the suite. Its furniture, with solid wood seating on what Girlahead calls wrapped chairs, is literally chained to the floor, in case of high winds.

Wellness here at Janu Tokyo is SENSATIONAL. The indoor pool is 25 METRES, and beautiful. The gym is huge, with the latest Technogym and various climbing and other pieces, all black and some looking like torture. 24/7 (need one ask?). There are five ‘studios’, offering golf simulation, yoga, private training, cycling and pilates. There are two multi-room spa ‘houses’, minimum stay four hours and seven ‘ordinary’ treatment rooms – except they are anything but ordinary. Room three, not the one with colour-changing sunbed, was minimalist, except for one exotic flower. Lie cocooned in fluffy white towelling surrounded by pale ash colours (not putty?) for an hour-long Janu Experience, culminating in heated copper drumbells being skilfully played to beat (or was it enhance?) the alkaline in the body. LOVELY.

GM Noriko Tanaka regards the hotel, and its 400 employees, as her offspring (her biological daughter is at school in Hong Kong and in termtime Noriko-san only sees her once a month or so).