Zecha’s New Venture in Japan


At age 88, Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts, has lost none of his entrepreneurial zeal. His latest project is Azumi Setoda, a 22-room contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional Japanese ryokan. Housed within a 140-year-old residence belonging to the prominent local Horiuchi family, the property has been renovated by Kyoto-based architect Shiro Miura and now displays the exquisitely refined minimalism that has made Zecha a legendary figure in the global hotel industry. It is located 175 miles west of Osaka on Ikuchijima, an island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, a place famous for both its lemons and its maritime heritage. Architecturally, the hotel is a traditional construction of dark wood, topped by waves of curved gray roof tiles. Inside, exposed beams and sliding washi paper screens help to create an atmosphere of timeless tranquility. Glass walls overlook an inner garden surrounded by a 20-foot kakine (“fence”). Serene guest rooms come with low white beds and hinoki cypress bathtubs.

A restaurant features both communal wooden tables and private dining spaces and serves modern Japanese cuisine in bright ceramic dishes that once belonged to the Horiuchi family. Across the street from the inn is its renovated sento, or public bathhouse, which is accessible to foreign visitors and locals alike. Guests at Azumi Setoda are encouraged to engage with the community and activities range from lemon picking to meditation at nearby Zen temples.

By Andrew Harper Editor Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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