On October 23, the operator of the historic Hilltop Hotel in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward announced it will temporarily close from February 2024. The closure is to allow them to consider possible measures to deal wth the building’s age and deterioration.

The art deco style Yamanoue (Hilltop) Hotel was built in 1937 for the Japan Lifestyle Association. US-born architect William Merrell Vories designed the 6-story building. It was confiscated by the Imperial Navy during WWII, and was later used by the US occupying forces as lodging for for the Women’s Army Corps. These military personnel nicknamed it Hilltop due to its hilly location.

In 1954, Toshio Yoshida, who had just started his own business after working for years at Asahi Glass Co., heard about the building being returned by the US forces and quickly offered to lease it from its original owner. Despite having no experience in running a hotel, he built up its reputation as providing a cozy and welcoming experience for guests. It also hosted many literary greats due to its proximity to the publishing companies centered around the Kanda neighborhood.

In 1970, a 7-story annex was added, bringing the total room count to 74. The annex closed in June 2014, while the main building with 35 rooms continued to operate. Three months later, the annex was sold to neighboring Meiji University. The university had considered using the annex building but decided to demolish it after discovering asbestos. The former annex site is now an open plaza.

There is no indication as to how long the hotel will remain closed.