Owner: Naru Developments & Adrian Zecha
Main Contractor & Construction Management: ADX
Hotel operator: Azumi
Architecture: Shiro Miura / existing building
Interior design: Shiro Miura
Landscape design: WA-SO landscape
Furnishings: custom made in collaboration with Doi Mokkou
Photo credits: Tomohiro Sakashita
It is the most peaceful zone of the Seto Inland Sea, with clear blue waters and pure fresh air. On the island of Ikuchijima, in the prefecture of Hiroshima, the ryokan Azumi Setoda is a historic traditional Japanese inn now owned by the hospitality brand Azumi, created by Adrian Zecha and Naru Developments.
Embraced by a residential complex for as many as 140 years, the ryokan has been restored with great care by the architect Shiro Miura, alternating open and secluded, public and private spaces, starting from a daring and unconventional interpretation of the traditional kakine (a cedar fence) to define the space.
The main dining room, with shared tables for interaction of guests, is joined by the Azumaya, a calm multifunctional garden area for quiet meditation. The 18 suites and 4 duplexes on two levels all have their own garden or private balcony, with a view of the kakine designed by the landscape architects of WA-SO. The restaurant has been organized for a communal culinary experience, but there are also three private dining rooms from which to choose for a secluded meal.
The internal furnishings of the entire structure are custom creations made in collaboration with Doi Mokkou, a local artisan specializing in wood. The pieces are made only with natural local materials, mainly rugged Japanese cypress, for a sense of harmony with the view of the garden, and they have been shaped to fit into the available space, offering an optimal view of the internal courtyard.
Across the street, the yubune bathhouse designed by Miura offers guests and the public a traditional Japanese ritual of purification of body and spirit from everyday stress, with lemon and salt baths and a sauna. The walls and pools are tiled with the work of the artist Mai Miyake, depicting the island landscape and the aquatic wildlife of Setouchi.
Still in a communitarian spirit, the collaboration between the Azumi team and the local inhabitants has also produced Soil Setoda, a mixed-use facility for residence, work, activities, a café and restaurant, to encourage social and cultural interchange.