Starchitect Kengo Kuma has designed a hot spring hotel set across rice terraces of Yufuin valley on the Japanese island of Kyushu in the Ōita Prefecture.
Kai Yufuin is the 20th addition to the Hoshino Resorts portfolio and is backdropped by Mount Yufu. According to Hoshino, the concept behind the ryokan is a hotel ‘with a sculpted landscape painted with nature’s brush’. As such, architecture is staggered across the rice terraces like pebbles rippling the surface of a pond.
Yuguin Onsen is a prime hot spring region, feted for its mineral-rich waters, colour-rich landscape and traditional rice fields. This landscape is the focal point for Kuma’s design, which includes a bathhouse, a public building (with lobby, shop, dining room and library), 45 guest rooms and private villas nestled between the fields and oak forest.
The spa features a vaporous indoor pool with blackened wooden panels and black pebble floors. This monochrome interior frames sweeping vistas out to Mount Yufu.
The wellness hotel’s wooden villas feature overhanging hip roofs with slender eaves – a riff on tradition. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto a small deck, while interiors are neutral with simple furnishings and uki-zukuri-finished cedar floors.
Bedrooms in the main building (which start from 35,000 JPY per night) are outfitted with bamboo headboards and sofas – a nod to the prefecture’s abundance of giant bamboo – as well as shichitoi grass lighting elements and tatami mats