After hearing rumors that one of my favorite hideaways in Tokyo, the Sanuki Club, is slated for demolition, I stand outside the hotel's front gates with apprehension. Aside from offering some of the cheapest lodgings available in Minato Ward, the property's beer and barbecue terrace — tucked under mature trees and backed by Japanese garden landscaping — as well as its historical wooden buildings, mini bamboo grove, and a stylishly unconventional modern lobby, have long delighted its intellectual and artistic clientele. I'll be crushed if it has closed.

Front desk manager Hiroshi Hirano brushes off my fears with a grin.

"We were scheduled to be torn down," he admits, "but we get to stay in business through the 2020 Olympics because of Tokyo's hotel-room shortage."