HOTEL LOG set on a hillside and up cobblestone steps, this unassuming inn in a concrete building is a 10-minute walk from Onomichi City Museum of Art.
The outside of this place, whose name is an acronym for Lantern Onomichi Garden, may not grab anyone’s attention. Set in the Shinmichi complex, built in 1963 on the slopes of Mount Senkoji overlooking the Seto Sea, the white-and-peach apartment building looks unremarkable.
But inside it has been transformed into an arty six-room hotel via the wild but disciplined design of architect Bijoy Jain from Studio Mumbai. For his first project outside India, Jain covered every inch of the bedroom walls, floors and ceilings with gleaming-white washi paper; the cocoon effect is deepened by a scarcity of furnishings. Staying in one of these large spartan spaces is rather like sleeping in an art installation. But comfort is key: futons are incredibly soft, and bath tubs can be found in the larger rooms.
There is a feeling of being gently swaddled in a delicate paper lantern, but open a window and golden light pours in: the structure is high up, overlooking the pines, palms and roofs of this free-spirited temple town often called Japan’s Portland. Head to the lacquered bar for a glass of local Chardonnay or a cocktail while Eighties pop plays on the turntable. The restaurant is heavy on vegetables, so menus tilt towards salads with greens and microherbs, and ceramic bowls are filled with mikan and hassaku citrus fruits that are anything but ordinary. Staying in a ryokan often means accepting tatemae – a structured, sometimes rigid way of thinking.
But this contemporary interpretation has resulted in a laidback hangout where social barriers can be broken down and even Japanese guests can bend the rules.
Location : 11-12 Higashitsuchidocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0033, Japan
Phone: +81 848-24-6669