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Life

Kyoto's Marufukuro: the boutique hotel that cards built

Nintendo’s former headquarters receives playful makeover by Tadao Ando

The Marufukuro remains an art deco standout in this otherwise quiet residential neighborhood

Marufukuro is the talk of the town in Kyoto. The four-story art deco pile is a rarity in itself but its history is equally intriguing. The structure was originally built in 1930 by Fusajiro Yamauchi (a Japanese entrepreneur who founded the company that is now Nintendo), then sat unused for more than half a century.

While many heritage properties in Japan are demolished and turned into apartments or car parks, the family that owns this one teamed up with Tokyo-based hospitality company Plan Do See to bring it back to life as an 18-key hotel. President Yutaka Noda commissioned Tadao Ando to preserve the structure where possible, only replacing the wrecked bits with a new concrete building.

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