Situated on the tranquil island of Ikuchijima, Azumi Setoda is a conventional Japanese bathhouse resort reimagined for the modern planet. Rose Dykins experiences
Azumi Setoda opened its doorways this month on the island of Ikuchijima in Japan’s Seto Inland sea, offering a restful, culturally loaded continue to be for travellers checking out the region.
With its present-day choose on the traditional ryokan – a design of Japanese inn, generally showcasing tatami-matted rooms and communal bathing residences – Azumi Setoda features an immersive guest encounter, shedding light on neighborhood tradition, meals and art, and integrating with the neighborhood neighborhood.
Japan’s central Seto Inland Sea lies the west of Kyoto and Osaka, and is dotted with an archipelago of islands, some of which are connected by bridges, but quite a few involve ferry excursions to access.
Several of the previous industrial islands of the Seto Inland Sea are being regenerated to supply cultural sights – this sort of as unbiased museums, artwork installations, boutique hotels and cycling trails.
The island of Ikuchijima is a former island, and is known as “lemon island” as it is thought to be the birthplace of lemons in Japan. Accessible by using a cable-stayed Tatara Bridge, it has a populace of just 11,000 folks.
Its citrus groves, Hill of Hope (a stone park carved from Italian marble), outdoor sculptures and citrus-dependent sweet suppliers are very best explored by bicycle.
Azumi Setoda occupies a 19th-century previous household of a shipping and salt-farming loved ones on Ikuchijima.
The 140 yr-outdated house has been restored and transformed to give 18 suites and 4 duplexes. All accommodation is housed in a two-storey pavilion, with a cedar kakine-framed courtyard at its centre.
Just about every suite or duplex has a non-public back garden or a balcony, and offers a distinctive watch of the courtyard, which was built by Osaka-centered WA-SO landscape architects.
The ryokan’s Kyoto-based mostly designer Shiro Miura is an pro in sukiya, a model of 16th-century architecture primarily based all over balancing the components.
Developing a feeling of peaceful, warm hospitality is central to the visitor expertise Azumi Setoda and, when company get there they are welcomed by an aruji (head of dwelling).
The suites and duplexes mix contemporary facilities with a common ryokan aesthetic, and every single a person has its very own bath tub created from cypress wood.
Personalized wood furniture has been co-developed with neighborhood artisan Doi Mokkou, made to blend in with the ryokan’s interiors, at the great peak to give the ideal sights of the interior courtyard. In preserving with sukiya ideals, the décor functions raw resources these types of as cedar, cypress, washi (standard Japanese paper) and granite.
The Azumaya is a quiet multi-reason garden room making a tranquil area for attendees to meditate. In the meantime, the hotel’s cafe has communal tables to persuade conversation when dining, with the option of a few personal dining rooms.
Its seasonal “soul-food” menu options nearby substances from the hotel’s surrounding landscape – such as seafood, citrus and vegetables. It was also reflect the region’s position as a historic sea hub location wherever cultures intersect, with herbs and spices that symbolize the Persian and Asian influences on the Japanese dwelling-cooked-fashion fare.
Signature dishes from the launch menu contain Inno-shima octopus sashimi, Nishi shellfish with sesame oil and steamed meat dumpling with lotus root and Awaji onion.
Visitors can enjoy à la carte solutions and the hotel’s specialty omakase course, served up on little sensitive palettes and big platters, some of which are gifted by the Horiuchi loved ones from their antique selection.
Azumi Setoda’s accompanying yabune (general public bathhouse) is supposed for locals to use as considerably as friends, in holding with the brand’s ethos of serving its encompassing neighborhood, fairly than just vacationers. The tiled artwork has been created by Japanese artist Mai Miyake, depicting the island’s surroundings and the region’s rich ocean lifetime.
Located across the street from Azumi Setoda, Azumi Yabune has even further 14 guestrooms as well as the bathtub home. Guests also have accessibility to a private lounge serving beverages and snacks from the neighborhood purchasing street. They are invited to practical experience Japanese bathing culture, lemon and salt bathing, and sauna.
Designed out of local community feedback, in collaboration with the Azumi crew, a combined-use facility identified as Soil Setoda will open up near to the port of Setoda in April. It will perform as ‘the residing room of the city” featuring quick-to-extended time period accommodation, a work lounge, exercise centre, espresso roaster and restaurant.
The plan is for Soil Setoda to be a spot for cultural and social exchange, with an ecosystem that is both of those energetic and comfortable, and that feels welcoming to a broad demographic of individuals.