The Atago Experience

by Simon Farrell
Atago Green Hills Forest TowerFor a long-term stay, try these all-year-round and all-in-one luxury serviced apartments featuring convenience, community and culture.

Although Tokyo is a city of great contrasts, few parts of the central metropolis with easy access to business districts also offer the serenity of centuries-old cultural draws, and even wildlife. Add to that the spectacular views from one of the city’s highest natural points, and furnished residences featuring warm hospitality and all the frills, and you have Atago Green Hills Forest Tower.

Innovative urban developer Mori Building’s luxury residential brand MORI LIVING — motto “Bringing new ideas to life in Tokyo” — operates luxury residential properties in the heart of the city at 17 central locations including four furnished residences at Atago Green Hills Forest Tower, Roppongi Hills Residence D, ARK Towers and the Prudential Tower Residences.

Some staff members regularly exchange letters, cards and gifts with former residents who became friends during their stay here.

In early July, I spent a pleasant 48 hours in one of the 99 furnished residences at the 353-unit Atago Green Hills Forest Tower and learned why foreign and local professionals, academics and creative types — mostly singles or DINKs — choose to lease an apartment.

Naturally, location is vital. Situated in a thriving business district between four and 10 minutes’ walk from Onarimon, Kamiyacho and Toranomon subway stations on the Mita, Hibiya and Ginza lines, respectively, which quickly connect to other major commercial hubs such as Marunouchi, Otemachi and Yurakucho, this property is also defined by its balance of green spaces and all-in-one lifestyle that includes restaurants, spa, health clinic and shops, including an on-site, 24-hour, high-class supermarket.

Shusse-no Ishidan matsuri at Atago Jinja World-renowned architect Cesar Pelli designed this residence to look like a lotus blossom, symbolizing “peace and quiet to help you savor the changing moods of the seasons without the distraction of the busy city.” Indeed, you may be surprised to hear from the surrounding greenery of Mt. Atago the occasional sounds of a fox or hakubishin (civet).

The famed community spirit evident at Atago Green Hills Forest Tower is enhanced by the numerous members-only events that encourage residents to not just meet each other, but also the staff. Indeed, many friendships between staff and guests began at such events, as well as during regular day-to-day operations.

“After some residents leave Japan, they meet up with our staff members in their own countries to continue the friendship,” said Residence Manager Hiroyuki Yagisawa. “Some staff members regularly exchange letters, cards and gifts with former residents who became friends during their stay here. We have more examples of the strong bond that develops between staff and residents.”

At the breakfast buffet, served daily in the 42nd floor no-smoking Lounge that also provides lunch, dinner and room service, I asked an American couple nearing the end of their three-year assignment in Tokyo what they liked about staying in this property.

GREEN HILLS SPA swimming pool One of them said: “They clearly have a lot of experience hosting international people because they seem to sense what we need and staff always have the right solution quickly at hand. It’s also great for a long stay because it is so convenient for everything.”

Other nice touches I observed in the Lounge include daily local and global newspapers, magazines and books, along with large windows, dishes being fully explained, and wine proffered for tasting before it was accepted. Staff members were always cheerful and friendly to residents.

The other American told me: “It’s just the right mix and balance of everything we require under one roof or very nearby along with warm hospitality, well-equipped rooms — and lots of culture.”

Indeed, culture is always a major draw for foreigners here. A Mexican resident recently asked the residence’s staff to show her the 500-year-old Seishoji temple located next door. She enjoyed it so much, she meditated there every day during her stay.

GREEN HILLS SPA And when I arrived, the tanabata festival was being celebrated in the lobby with a tree in place. Some foreign residents asked staff about this traditional love story and soon dozens of wish cards hung from the tree’s branches. Expect Halloween and Christmas to get similar exposure, staff told me.

Healthcare is also taken seriously. The 41st-floor, 24-hour health-consultation room, staffed by a senior doctor and bilingual nurses, administers medical consulting and treatment for minor injuries or illnesses. And just opposite is the famous Jikei Medical University Hospital. “We have a special agreement with the hospital to provide our residents with the highest-class medical service should more serious treatment or advice be necessary,” said Health Consultation Room Director Makoto Ohara.

Of course, prevention is better than cure. The property’s GREEN HILLS SPA Manager Satoru Takashina provides adults with lessons, tailored personal training and wellness instruction at the gym and swimming pool. “I encourage and welcome our residents to use the facilities to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle,” he said. “It’s all part of the Atago experience.”

The health-consultation room has bilingual staff Those staying at furnished residences here also enjoy full spa membership at MORI LIVING’s three other residential properties in Roppongi, Akasaka, and Moto-azabu at no extra charge.

Although all one- and two-bedroom fully furnished residences (one, two and three bedrooms for unfurnished apartments) offer views of the changing seasons, the Sky Deck is a more sociable spot to enjoy the colorful fireworks over Tokyo Bay, with a special hanabi-viewing party for residents every August, weather permitting.

One interesting resident is an expert astronomer who demonstrates his telescope to residents on the Sky Deck. Indeed, other residents who lecture or perform include a pianist, a calligraphy teacher and an artist, while cooking lessons are available at the popular Daigo Michelin-starred restaurant.

Innovation is a key MORI LIVING word. The recently introduced “MORI LIVING Smiles” benefits program is the latest example of enhancing value for residents. Residents aged over 12 living at any of the 17 MORI LIVING residences in Tokyo on three-year fixed-term leases, can receive generous discounts and special offers from participating establishments in such places as Roppongi Hills, Omotesando Hills and Venus Fort that offer a wide array of services and products. Due to the global economic slowdown, the trend is towards longer fixed-terms such as the furnished residence contract, according to MORI LIVING.

Unlike some global serviced-apartment operators whose products and services are all basically identical, the MORI LIVING philosophy is that properties provide a comfortable stay along with their own character while sharing the same 24/7 elements of security, privacy, location, convenience and hospitality.

As Tokyo competes with New York, London and Asian capitals to be the global business and cultural center, expect more innovation from MORI LIVING to help exceed the expectations of international and local residents alike.

For information: Tel: 0120-52-1806 or email: