This is where the story gets sad: the main building is slated for demolition in September 2015. Because life is often one big ironic cycle, its imminent destruction is to make room for a 38-story glass tower in advance of the 2020 Olympic Games. The news brought an outcry of opposition in the artistic communities of Japan and elsewhere around the world. However, not all is lost. The Okura will preserve and utilize the south wing of the hotel complex, which shares some similar elements and is situated across the street from the admired main building.
So travel, for many of us, is a quest for not just the unknown, but the unknowing; I, at least, travel in search of an innocent eye that can return me to a more innocent self. I tend to believe more abroad than I do at home (which, though treacherous again, can at least help me to extend my vision), and I tend to be more easily excited abroad, and even kinder. And since no one I meet can “place” me—no one can fix me in my resume—I can remake myself for better, as well as, of course, for worse (if travel is notoriously a cradle for false identities, it can also, at its best, be a crucible for truer ones). In this way, travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: On the road, we often live more simply (even when staying in a luxury hotel), with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance.