Dai-ichi Hotel, c. 1940.

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Dai-ichi Hotel, c. 1940.

“Greatest the Orient” [sic], Dai-ichi Hotel [lit. “#1 Hotel”], Shimbashi, Tokyo, c. 1940.

The Dai-ichi Hotel was built in the Shimbashi District in 1938 to house foreign athletes in anticipation of the 1940 Summer Olympics (subsequently canceled because of the European war). During the Pacific War the Dai-ichi quartered interned expatriates and prisoners-of-war who had been coerced to produce propaganda for ‘Zero Hour’ and other broadcasts emanating from Radio Tokyo.

Dai-Ichi Hotel, c. 1950.

Interior views, Dai-Ichi Hotel, Tokyo, c. 1950. Left: the hotel lobby. Right: Single room.

Designed and constructed by the construction company Shimizu Gumi, the Dai-ichi Hotel was considered a state-of-the-art hotel at the time of its completion in April 1938 – a modern luxury built of reinforced concrete, eight floors above ground and one floor below ground. Its plain but sleek exterior enclosed 626 rooms making it, at the time, the largest hotel in Asia. In addition, the Dai-ichi Hotel was equipped with air conditioning and elevators throughout the building, as well as a restaurant and coffee shop with the latest kitchen equipment.

During the Occupation, after Japan’s surrender in 1945, the Dai-ichi Hotel was requisitioned for use as a billet for high-ranking officers of the United States, British, and Republic of China forces that made up the Allied forces. American defense attorneys at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East also were in residence there in 1946 during the Tokyo War Crimes trial.

Dai-ichi Hotel, c. 1948.

The Dai-ichi Hotel during the Occupation, c. 1948.

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  1. Pingback: Hotel Tokyo, Lobby, Marunouchi, c. 1950. | Old Tokyo

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