Kengo Kuma’s contemporary ryokan between rice terraces and hot spring

KAI Yufuin hotel is a celebration of the Japanese landscape, connecting human beings, emotions, and the changing seasons.

Kengo Kuma signs the twentieth property of Hoshino Resorts, KAI Yufuin hotel. The project's concept aims to be a celebration of its site in Oita Prefecture, known for rice terraces and hot springs, and whose name means “grand rice field”. The hotel – located in Yufuin Onsen, which has one of the highest number of hot springs in Japan – takes the shape of a ryokan, the traditional Japanese inn, with both indoor and outdoor baths fed by the natural hot springs.

Kengo Kuma & Associates (KKAA) designed a collection of small buildings, scattered throughout the descending landscape. Among the forty-five guest rooms overall, there are two different typologies of suites. One stands as an independent structure, opening up to sculpted rice terraces on one side and Mount Yufu on the other; the second one faces the surrounding forest of sawtooth oaks and has its own private outdoor hot spring bath. Both were finished with tatami floors made from locally-grown fragrant shichitoi grass (Cyperus tagetiformis).

Kengo Kuma said about the project: “Since the sheer beauty of nature can be felt from the rice terraces, it is sometimes said that rice terraces are more than a Japanese garden. Seasons’ rhythm can be felt from the rice terraces, which makes people emotionally moved. By letting people feel the four seasons through the rice terraces, I believe there will be greater satisfaction than that of Japanese gardens”.

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