kengo kuma scatters a spa hotel over sculpted rice terraces
an idyllic ryokan by kengo kuma
Hoshino Resorts celebrates the opening of its 20th property, KAI Yufuin Hotel with the architecture of Kengo Kuma. The project takes the form of a hot spring ryokan – a small hostel of a traditional Japanese style – which overlooks an array of cascading rice terraces and Mount Yufu beyond. Describing the idyllic location, the group writes that the sculpted landscape was “painted with nature’s brush”.
The concept is a celebration of its location in Oita Prefecture, an area commonly associated with its rice terraces and whose name is even derived from words that mean ‘big rice field’. The hotel is located in Yufuin Onsen, which has one of the most number of hot springs in all Japan. Thus, KAI Yufuin integrates indoor and outdoor baths fed by natural hot springs to be enjoyed throughout the year.
images courtesy of Hoshino Resorts
immersed in the woods or scattered along the rice terraces
Kengo Kuma & Associates organizes its new KAI Yufuin hotel for Hotels in Hoshino like a collection of small buildings scattered across the descending landscape. The architects equip the complex with a total of forty-five rooms, either located in the main building or in independent suites. Two different suite styles are offered. One type stands as a free-standing structure on the rice terraces, opening out to expansive views of the sculpted landscape and the mountains beyond. The second type faces the surrounding sawtooth oak forest and has its own private outdoor hot spring bath.
Both suite styles offer a unique connection to the place and therefore, different kinds of luxury. Both types are finished with tatami floors made from a rare locally grown shichitoi grass. The team notes: ‘as soon as you enter the rooms, you can appreciate the sweet natural scent of the grass.’
hoshino resorts celebrates the changing seasons
Kengo Kuma & Associates centers KAI Yufuin around a main rice terrace, which opens wide to sweeping views of the rice terraces. Hoshino Resorts emphasizes the connection with the changing seasons, which can be felt when the mirrored waters reflect their surroundings.
The team says:Before the rice planting in the spring, the rice terraces are filled with water, where the clear blue sky and the surrounding landscape are reflected on its surface. After the rice is planted, the fresh green of the seedlings spreads, and in the summer, the cultivated rice moves with the wind, producing a refreshing tone.
‘In autumn, the ears of rice sprout in abundance, turning the rice paddies into terraces of gold. The landscape of rice terraces with rice straws after harvest is a familiar scene of Yufuin in winter.’
After the completion of KAI Yufuin Hotel, Kengo Kuma comments: ‘The location of KAI Yufuin reminds me of a farming village in Yufuin, and in a way, the site resembles the original landscape of Yufuin. The main feature of this accommodation is the scenery of the beautiful rice terraces. It is designed so that this characteristic can be felt from anywhere on the spot. With this main feature, I think it will feel like you’ve entered a completely different world.
‘Since the pure beauty of nature can be felt from the rice terraces, it is sometimes said that the rice terraces are more than a Japanese garden. The rhythm of the seasons is 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..’
the changing terraces reflect the passing of the seasons
Hotel KAI Yufuin has indoor and outdoor hot spring baths