Memories
Logo Okura 50 years

Baron Okura’s dreamThe art of Memories

The Art of Memories is an art form that moves and inspires. Memories can be intertwined to forge a vivid history, like this mesmerising story of a traditional pioneer.

Kishichiro Okura was born in Tokyo in 1882 into a highly successful family of entrepreneurs. His father, originally a humble grocer, rose to become the owner of a large international company – an exceptional achievement that did not go unnoticed by the Japanese state, which awarded him the noble title of Baron. A title that was later passed down to his son, Kishichiro.

Listen to Baron Okura's Dream

An inventive man

Like his father, Baron Kishichiro Okura grew up to be a talented man, who was often ahead of his time. He studied at the University of Cambridge and enjoyed skiing, motor racing, the board game Go, and music. And those hobbies often turned into successful ventures: Okura participated in the first-ever motor race in the world – winning silver, and he commissioned a ski jump to be built on a Japanese mountain – the Okurayama ski jump. He also invented a new musical instrument, coached professional Go players, founded several companies, and was the first to bring the car to Japan. Okura forged lasting connections between East and West and is, quite rightly, regarded as a pioneer of the era of modernisation in Japan. But in everything he did and everything he achieved, he always respected his roots and his beloved Japanese traditions.

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Okura forged lasting connections between East and West and is, quite rightly, regarded as a pioneer of the era of modernisation in Japan

The art of Japanese hospitality

Despite his many successful ventures, Okura had an ambitious dream in which his international entrepreneurial spirit and his sensitivity to and respect for authentic traditions were combined. He wanted to open an international hotel where centuries-old Japanese traditions would meet Western comforts. Rather than only a place to stay, it was to be a luxurious haven. Where guests from all over the world are welcomed by hostesses in traditional kimonos. Where the finest chefs prepare exquisite delicacies and dishes from Japanese cuisine. A hotel where everyone feels welcome. A hotel that lives and breathes omotenashi: the art of Japanese hospitality that is both omnipresent yet non-intrusive and respectful of distance. Okura was a determined man, and he finally achieved his dream at the age of 80. In 1962, the very first Okura Hotel opened its doors in his native Tokyo.

Okura was fortunate enough to see his dream come true – and to see how his guests enjoyed the blend of East and West, the luxury, and the omotenashi. When this pioneer died a year later, his dream did not die with him. Quite the opposite, in fact. The chain expanded throughout Japan and spread its wings into Europe. In 1971, Amsterdam had the honour ofnp opening the second Okura Hotel. And that was no coincidence. The friendly and intense relations between Japan and the Netherlands date back more than three hundred years. Since the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Netherlands has made a significant contribution to Japan’s development by sharing knowledge and through trade and shipbuilding.

And now it is time to celebrate a landmark moment in our history; Hotel Okura Amsterdam has been welcoming guests for fifty years, inspired by the style of Baron Okura, combining authentic Japanese traditions with the finest expression of Western luxury. With great grandson Kikuhiko Okura’s appointment as president of Hotel Okura Amsterdam in January 2020, this family tradition well and truly lives on. Just as the history of Baron Okura lives on through this inspiring story. That is what we call art. The Art of Memories. The Art of Okura.

Hotel Okura Amsterdam - Under Construction 1971 Hotel Okura Amsterdam Exterior Inzegening Hotel Okura Amsterdam 1971