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Imperial Hotel celebrates 120 years of history

Charles Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth, and in recent years U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev are among the many celebrities who have lodged at the Imperial Hotel, Japan’s first grand Western-style inn, which opened as a state guesthouse during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Looking back on its 120-year history, Tetsuya Kobayashi, its eighth president, says the core of the Imperial Hotel’s operations has always been serving important foreign guests.

"With that, the Imperial Hotel is a state guesthouse in our mind, and we have repeatedly used a screening process to determine the things that needed to change and those that didn’t, but needed protection," Kobayashi, 65, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. "The accumulation of such selections is the present Imperial Hotel."

The Imperial Hotel began its existence next to the famed Rokumeikan dance hall in Tokyo’s Hibiya district on Nov. 3, 1890, amid rising demand for full-scale accommodations for foreign VIPs.

Read the rest of the story: Imperial Hotel maintains its pride, 120 years on.