To say that the past year has been tough would be an understatement. The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world, including Japan. However, things are beginning to look up with comprehensive vaccination programmes being rolled out worldwide. More and more countries are welcoming back tourists and Japan also recently re-opened its borders to business travellers.
As we wait (im)patiently to visit Japan once again, here are four new hotels to put on your travel wish list:
Azumi Setoda, Hiroshima (opened March 2021)
From the visionary Aman founder Adrian Zecha comes the new brand, Azumi. This contemporary ryokan in Setoda town is the brand’s first opening and boy, is it spectacular. Built within a 140-year-old residence, Azumi Setoda retains the old-world charm of Japanese design sensibilities, with liberal use of light wood and paper screens as well as an exquisite inner garden wrapped by 20-feet cedar fences known as kakine. As a nod to the ryokan’s location on an island known for its lemon production, the bathhouse offers a slightly unusual — but downright zesty — onsen experience, where you soak in steaming hot baths with lemons bobbing on the surface.
Treeful Treehouse Sustainable Resort, Okinawa (opened August 2021)
You’ve already read all about the benefits of forest bathing, so why not spend some quality time amidst these glorious health-giving trees at this treehouse resort? Located in the forest in Nago, in the north of Okinawa, this tranquil accommodation is serious about its commitment to the environment. Eschewing the use of fossil fuels, the resort uses solar panels to generate electricity and even has an in-house goat to “mow” the lawn (instead of using a fuel-burning mowing machine).
All the treehouses are built at least 1.2m above ground so as not to trample on the homes of the critters and creatures that live on the forest ground and are made using a sustainable source of wood. During your time here, you can join a tour on an eight-wheeler to explore the secret sights and sounds of the Higashi area in Okinawa.