Hoshinoya Kyoto’s wooden buildings date back almost a century. In renovating them in 2009, interior designer Rie Azuma, representing her own practice Azuma Architects & Associates, preserved the structures’ facades as much as she could. This was an important mandate, given the ever-increasing rarity of a building in Japan that dates from before World War II. Viewed from above, the low-slung buildings that comprise the resort, set along the Ōi River, almost disappear into the verdure that surrounds them on three sides.
After the renovation, the property reopened in 2009 under the management of the Hoshinoya group. “We were fortunate to inherit the traditional beauty of the architecture and landscape,” says Hoshino. “The architecture itself is traditional, but we applied classic yet modern art forms, such as kyo-karakami [an artistic printed paper] designed to subdue and scatter sunlight.”
The property is isolated in a way that is rare in Japan— a country with a high population density. A further touch is the prohibition of clocks or televisions in public areas or guestrooms, “so guests can relax and appreciate the natural surroundings, undisturbed by information from the outside world.” Determining the hour based on the light on the river, and whether insect, bird, or frog song is floating out of the forest only complicates guests’ perception of time further.