Well this was a first. The gal was picked up by this rickshaw man, and driven – or pulled – though some of Tokyo’s most prestigious shopping streets en route to the city’s newest luxury hotel, Aman Tokyo (it officially opened March 17th, 2015, unfortunately coinciding with ILTM Japan in Kyoto). Rickshaws allegedly originated in Japan, and this rickshaw man is descended from a long-time heritage of pullers. Surely it must have been difficult hauling the beautiful decorated vehicle with two full-size adults in it? No problem, he said, pointing out buildings and sights as he ran, at a really fast pace.
Jeffrey Seward, GM of the 84-room hotel, had come to pick me up. When the rickshaw man temporarily left us, so to speak, to take a photograph we did feel a little bit abandoned. Please note the scarlet blankets – Aman Tokyo, designed by Kerry Hill, itself is 100 percent muted in colour (correction, I did see yellow straps on the TRX hangers in the outstanding 24/7 Technogym). The hotel occupies the top five floors of the 38-floor Otemachi Tower, owned by Mizuho Financial Group. I rose up, in the first elevators in any Aman, to the 33rd floor lobby, and emerged to a seemingly endless rectangle, at least 180 feet from one end to the other.
Kerry Hill‘s interpretation of infinity, here, is Chinese and Japanese basalt rising to an upper ‘paper balloon’ of translucent washi paper. You think it is going to take off, high over Tokyo. Down at ground level of this theatrical space there is a central decorative pool, with a tree-like flower arrangement in its centre. Seating around is in muted colours, people are barely audible (and they all seem to be dressed in black, grey, beige or off-white). Those working in the rooms leading off one long wall and one end wall of the lobby, the sitting areas and restaurant and bar, are in soft sage and cream. It is all exquisite.
I am told that one of the highlights is watching the sunset from the hotel’s 100-foot pool, so I head up there, to swim my lengths. As the sun sinks behind Mount Fuji, the water becomes striped with a marvellous persimmon glow. This is indeed a lasting memory of this very special luxury hotel, the world’s first ‘vertical’ Aman.