|2005 Spring - Intro - Meguro-gawa - Claska Hotel - Neighborhood Shops
Tokyo Hot Spot
Reviving Meguro with a hip place to roost
photography by Takashi Honma / text by Toshie Tanaka
Meguro-dori was long known as a street of numerous imported-car dealers. Then came the interior design shops. Nowadays you can find retailers to satisfy all manner of tastes, from antique to mid-century modern and ethnic. On weekends, design enthusiasts and home-furnishing aficionados flock to this street en masse.
Despite that, Meguro-dori has always seemed short on roosting spots where visitors can simply take a break and rest their feet. In autumn 2003 the Hotel Claska changed that. What began life as a 1960s business hotel is a pioneer of hotel renovation in Japan. Indeed it is Tokyo's first boutique hotel. But even with just nine guest rooms it has brought big change to the street.
||Touted as the setting for the city's hippest conversations, The Lobby lounge is a must-go place to enjoy nighttime Tokyo.
"The concept of Claska is a place for play," says Tadahiro Nakamura, one of the creative minds behind the hotel. "People who live around Meguro-dori want to spend their time off relaxing and enjoying themselves in their neighborhood. We wanted to satisfy their needs by providing an accessible space in which to do that." Nakamura, whose firm, transit, oversees the day-to-day running of the hotel, opened two successful cafes in Aoyama (named OFFICE and Sign) and now spends his time being a caf╚ owner, an event organizer, and the marketing manager of Hotel Claska.
"Under this concept of play," Nakamura explains, "we gave the ground-floor loungecalled The Lobbya bookstore, a DJ booth, and a bar, as well as a restaurant. There's also Dogman, a dog-grooming salon, because Meguro is a place where people love to walk their dogs. The second floor is open space that can be used for any purpose. Whether someone wants to use it as a gallery or for a live performance, we can accommodate it."
Claska, which takes its name from do kurasuka (how best to live?), also offers rooms for long-term stays. Fashion designers, artists, and other celebrities are choosing to make it their home or office. The highly creative types encamped here attract their friends and colleagues to use the hotel for many purposes. With a lobby light installation that throbs more actively as more people gather, Hotel Claska provides an ideal ambience to draw more people to Meguro-dori.
"Meguro is ripe for renovation," Nakamura enthuses. "There are many shops with modern interiors behind vintage fa┴ades. Spaces for living and playing coexist in this area, and they truly enrich the neighborhood. I find that very Brooklyn-esque. Meguro-dori is still developing as a 'new' area. While it might not quite catch up to nearby Nakameguro, I think the number of residential spaces and restaurants in renovated buildings will continue to rise."
The futureand big attractionof Meguro-dori seems to be set: instead of constructing anew, the creative locals who love the area will continue reviving existing buildings into spaces for leisure and play.
Nakamura was born in 1971. After graduating from Keio University, he went to work for Isetan department store. In 2001 he left to open a cafe called OFFICE on the fifth floor of a building in the Gaienmae area. He opened another cafe, a restaurant, and a gallery in the same building, and went on to establish the Meguro branch of OFFICE. He now works in planning and management at the Hotel Claska as well as organizing all kinds of events. With his firm, transit, he looks forward to opening new hotels in Shibuya and Akasaka. www.transit-web.com
In September 2003 the Hotel New Meguro on Meguro-dori began a new life as the renovated Hotel Claska. Being in Tokyo, where boutique-style hotels are still rare, its robust originality has attracted visitors from all over the world. Boasting a lobby lounge, restaurant, gallery, bookstore, and a dog-trimming salon, this hotel expresses the invitation to "come and play," day and night. The room in the photograph costs 84,000 per night. Single rooms begin at 10,500.
1-3-18, Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku
tel. 03-3719-8121 / www.claska.com
Articles from the 2005 SPRING issue:
Kateigaho International Edition Issues:
2005 SUMMER - 2005 SPRING - 2005 WINTER
2004 AUTUMN - 2004 SUMMER - 2004 SPRING - 2004 WINTER
2003 AUTUMN - INAUGURAL ISSUE