Okura Hotel, Tokyo, c. 1970
Okura Kumi (Okura Partners), Ginza, c. 1921
“While Marilyn [Monroe] did the rounds in Tokyo and finalized plans for her Korean trip, Joe [Dimaggio] and Lefty [O’Doul] went ahead to Kawana, on the Izu Peninsula, where they had scheduled a weekend of golf and relaxation at the baronial Kawana Hotel. In 1950’s Japan, which was still struggling to recover from the devastation of WW II, the Kawana Hotel was a rare oasis of luxury.
“The 140-room resort was built in 1936 by wealthy industrialist Baron Kishichiro Okura as a showcase that would cater to foreigners. Its commanding view of the Pacific and two gigantic seaside golf courses has made it a magnet for the wealthy and elite ever since. In 1958, John Wayne made his home there during the filming of The Barbarian and the Geisha, and Prime Minister Hashimoto held a summit meeting there with Russia’s Boris Yeltsin in 1998.
“Marilyn arrived by train tired and ill from Tokyo. The numerous inoculations given to her in preparation for her upcoming Korean tour made her queasy and lethargic. In addition she had a sore thumb, rumored to have been inflicted during an argument in which Joe knocked a glass out of her hand. Marilyn wouldn’t be playing golf anyway – she didn’t know how. Instead the men and their wives played billiards, dined under the open-beam ceilings, relaxed in overstuffed chairs in front of Art Deco fireplaces, and enjoyed a rare moment away from the crowds.”
– Marilyn and Joe in Japan, by Carter Wit, 2000
“About five miles beyond Ito, you will drive over to Cape Kawana and the distinguished Kawana Hotel, which is situated high on a cliff overlooking the ocean and Oshima Island.
“The spacious grounds and gardens of the hotel are some of the loveliest in all of Japan; and if you are a golfer, the Kawana Hotel offers two courses renowned throughout the Orient that you won’t want to miss. There is also an inviting outdoor swimming pool; and the whole atmosphere of the Hotel and surrounding grounds and gardens is on of utter calm, peacefulness and restful relaxation midst the sheer beauty of mountains and sea.”
– Motoring in Japan, by Bob Frew, 1955
“The Fuji Course at the Kawana Hotel is considered by many to be the best course in Japan and the entire Orient.
“It was designed by Charles Alison and opened in 1936. He wrote of it, ‘This paradise is at least two hours from Yokohama, and much of the journey is along a narrow and earth-quaked road, cut in the rocky coast. It lies among the hills beyond the hot springs of Ito on a pine-covered plateau bordered by red cliffs which descend down to the blue sea. From a wooded bay, a mile distant, a fishing village sends out boats with brown sails to complete the last detail of a perfect scene.'”
– Historical Dictionary of Golf, by Bill Mallon & Randon Jerris, 2011