16 Jan 2019 in In immersion
Looking for your inner muse? Get inspired at this art-oriented ryokan!
The moment you enter Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara, you know you’re in for something special.
Pass through the main doors and you’ll enter a high-ceilinged entrance hall, lined on one side by a series of sliding doors that open onto a small courtyard with a pond.
The walls at either end of the corridor are adorned with immense works of art, mesmerizing abstract canvases with sand-like textured patterns that conjure up images of raked Japanese gardens.
The mood is already set for your stay, with all the themes you can expect to experience: nature, art, relaxation – and a touch of luxury.
Opened in July 2018, Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara is set within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Within this vast area, it lies at 700m altitude on the plateau of Sengokuhara, the chic district of Hakone.
This is where wealthy Tokyoites traditionally have a second residence and where world-class art museums are almost as plentiful as the snow-capped peaks in the winter months.
It’s a place where nature and creativity intertwine, the spectacular scenery known for its power to inspire artists and writers.
And at Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara, you’ll enjoy the perfect conditions to connect with your inner muse.
A room (and hot springs bath) with a view
Your room is spacious and dominated by the view of the valley below and the mountains above. Mt. Kintoki, whose summit offers stunning views of Mt. Fuji, takes centre stage – and you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate it from your balcony or from your private hot spring bath, perched on an outdoor ledge.
The square tub, fed by waters from the Owakudani volcanic valley, is accessible from your bathroom and boasts an unobstructed view onto the great outdoors.
Where better to contemplate nature’s beauty, relax your muscles and release your creative instincts?
Many of the rooms feature original works of art on the walls. Prior to its opening, Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara invited 12 artists to stay in 12 rooms and seek inspiration from the place, the view, the surroundings.
The result is the work hanging on the wall, a personal perspective on Sengokuhara from an artist in immersion.
The resort’s artistic leanings are amply on show in the dining room.
The presentation of the multi-course kaiseki menu is playful and pleasing to all five senses. Your “instant smoked salmon” appetizer will arrive covered with a bell jar-type top.
Remove it and a stream of smoke escapes into the air – a culinary nod to the volcanic plumes of nearby Mt. Hakone. Smoked in sakura wood chips, the salmon has a distinctive flavour, rich and rounded.
The main dish perfectly illustrates how the region marries hearty mountain fare with seafood specialities from the nearby ocean. Delicacies such as tender beef and abalone sea snails are grilled on top of two stones heated to 200℃.
An artful, distinctly Japanese take on surf and turf.
Express your inner artist
After dinner, it’s time for some hands-on art. A workshop organized every evening is a chance to paint your own tenugui, a type of Japanese hand towel.
Guided by staff, you can create your own design or paint colours onto an existing design.
It’s a great deal of fun – and the finished tenugui makes a unique souvenir to take away with you.
There’s plenty to explore in the area around Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara.
Looking for culture?
Walk down to the Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone, a fascinating insight into the life of French children’s author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Or head to the POLA Museum of Art, a strikingly-streamlined building housing an exceptional collection of Western and Western-style Japanese art, including works by Renoir, Monet and Picasso.
Other cultural must-sees are the Hakone Open-Air Museum and the Asian-focused collection of the Okada Museum of Art.
Alternatively, you can sample the region’s many outdoor treats. How about visiting the fascinating Owakudani geothermal area?
A hike up Mt. Kintoki? Or a walk in the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields?
And when you return to your hotel, head straight to the public hot spring baths. Then lie back in their milky white waters, sourced from the local valley and known for their antibacterial qualities.
What better way to replenish your physical energy and reinvigorate your artistic temperament?