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The hotel, be it flophouse or five-star, is what distinguishes cosmopolitan man from the nomad. Yes, it may be a humdrum need for shelter and food that brings us to hotels. But when we slip into that unfamiliar room, and for one night make it our own, we can also find ourselves transported to a different state of consciousness — a stimulating world of new possibilities. This weekend, the Tokyo art scene takes a break from its white cube galleries and checks into a Shinjuku hotel for an intimate two-day affair known as “Art@Agnes”.

Like many hotel stories, this one is about people. “Art@Agnes” got its start in 2004, when a businessman named Toru Senga took over a hotel located in the old-style shitamachi neighborhood of Kagurazaka. The Agnes Hotel and Apartments is a midsize operation that prides itself on personal service. Almost half the guests are foreign, a good number hailing from France, drawn by French cuisine on the hotel’s menu and a French school in the neighborhood.

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