During the Heian Period the Imperial Palace in Kyoto held on the third day of March each year a festival (of dolls) called the Banquet of the Winding River.
Men of letters stood on the banks of a winding stream. As sake cups floated down-stream, each man was expected to compose a poem before he picked up a cup to drink from it.
This was the game played at the banquet.
Our roof garden is a replica of the ancient Winding River Garden.（It used to be a former Main Building)
The “diamond” in this case refers naturally to the shape, not the gem. Had we better say “rhomb?” At any rate, the patterns occupied an important place among the several patterns used at the Imperial Court during the Heian Period. Since then a number of variations and adaptations of the Diamond Pattern has developed. After the Kamakura Period it assumed further importance as a family emblem, and following the Momoyama Period there were many derivations of the original family emblem.
One of the many variations of Hishi-mon is Matsukawabishi. This is what we may call the “Triple Diamond Pattern.” It came into vogue during the Momoyama and the Edo Periods when it was used on clothes and craft articles.
Lighting-shaped lines(a section of the layered diamonds) divide the design surface, break the diamonds apart and create a picturesque pattern, sometimes creating a bold pattern.Tsujigahana kimono are a good examples of this.（It used to be a former Main Building)
The exterior walls of Hotel Okura have attracted much attention, for they are peculiarly Japanese in their dignified and graceful way. This type of wall plaster is called Namakokabe.
You see similar walls on the rural houses of Izu Peninsula in the east, the old residences of Kurashiki City and in the towns around the Inland Sea.
These walls are made by arranging flat tiles in a checkerboard pattern. Thick strips of plaster are then applied into the gaps between the tiles and moulded into a semicircular shape, creating a look reminiscent of sea cucumbers, hence the name Namakokabe-sea cucumber wall.
The walls of Hotel Okura have been constructed in a way that causes the walls to change color as the sun travels across the sky.（It used to be a former Main Building)
The poems of thirty-six famous poets, such as Hitomaro and Tsurayuki, of the Nara Period through the Heian Period, were put together in thirty-seven volumes, and the poems were copied by such skilled artists of calligraphy of the Heian Period as Sadanobu Fujiwara and others.
What is remarkable about these volumes, from our standpoint, is the fact that each sheet of paper received utmost attention in the esthetic sense. Each sheet was made by pasting Chinese paper, colored paper and dyed paper together in such a way that one on top of the other would recede slightly, or that it would seem as if the sheet had been torn, resulting in a most fantastic design, and over this were scattered gold and silver foil pieces of different sizes, and then rivers, mountains and flowers were printed or drawn (by brush) over them.（It used to be a former Main Building)
The beauty of the cursive characters in black on the glistening background defies description. The whole panorama reveals to us the elegant world of the Heian nobility. The great murals of Heian-no-ma are a reproduction of the format, designs and patterns, colors, methods, and materials of the thirty-seven volumes of the thirty-six poets, and recreate for us the glamor of the Heian court.
One of the patterns found in the poetic collection is called suminagashi(meaning “floating ink”, also known as paper marbling), a technique used to make patterns reminiscent of rusting water in a stream. This can be done by one of two methods: by drawing with a brush or dropping black Indian ink on a wet sheet of paper and then transferring it to another sheet. What you see on the walls of the Seiryu-no-ma is a blowup of a photographic impression of Suminagashi done at Hotel Okura. We believe that we succeeded in recreating the classic beauty of Suminagashi.（It used to be a former Main Building)
The bamboo grows in such abundance and in such great variety in Asia that its graceful figure has been completely integrated into our daily life. This is to say that the plant serves as excellent building material. We use it to build our houses, make fences and all sorts of household articles.
On a moon-lit night bamboo trees in the garden cast exotic shadows on the paper sliding doors, giving the illusion of a Sumie, a brush and black ink drawing.（It used to be a former Main Building)
Put six equilateral triangles together to form a hexagon, and you have a perfect hemp leaf pattern. We use it on transom windows and sliding doors. You may see dyed hemp leaves on ladies’ handbags and other personal articles. The usage of the pattern is very wide, hence its great importance.
This pattern is feminine. It is often used on obi, juban(kimono undergarment) and kimono. We associate Asanoha-mon with Omiwa and Yaoya Oshichi, favorite Kabuki heroines. It also reminds us of Ukiyoe yukata(informal summer kimono).（It used to be a former Main Building)
The gingko grows tall and lives long. Its green leaves of spring turn to glorious yellow in fall. The grounds of Hotel Okura are full of gingko trees. Because the gingko is a good omen, we have used the gingko leaf pattern generously throughout the hotel.
The Okura Lantern, now familiar to all international travelers, in the main lobby and entrance hall, owe their unique shape to the hexahedral gems found in the early dawn of our country, the third to the sixth century. Together with crescent jades and beads they were used on necklaces.
Kirikodama in Japanese, they may be made of crystal, glass or emerald. At Okura, five or six of them are strung together.（It used to be a former Main Building)
We find a great number of animal motifs among the Shosoin treasures. In the center wall of the south wing lobby, there is a mural of heron in flight―made of black and white tile―created originally by the famous wood-block print artist, Shikoh Munakata, but modified and recreated in the form of a folding screen by Mr. Yoshiro Taniguchi.
The tile-works was conducted by Mr. Yasutsugu Kobayashi.
This work of art merges well with the Okura’s distinctive atmosphere as well as with the suspended lanterns.