With a frenzied pace of life and an ongoing pandemic, a ryokan escapade sounds more alluring than before. Meet Azumi Setoda, a modern ryokan brought to life by Adrian Zecha, the celebrated founder of Aman Resorts, in partnership with Naru Developments. As the debut property of new hospitality brand Azumi, the 22-suite gem is housed on a restored 140-year-old compound on the island of Ikuchijima in the Seto Inland Sea.
Closely linked to art—the area sees a yearly pilgrimage of sorts from Yayoi Kusama fans, the Seto Inland Sea is home to clusters of Art Islands filled with renowned museums, architectural marvels, and surreal art installations. Likewise, the itself ryokan reflects the artistic sensibilities of the island, with the property’s transformation led by Kyoto architect Shiro Miura and his team of artists, artisans, and gardeners. Meanwhile, the property’s thoughtful pieces of custom furniture have been co-created with local artisan Doi Mokkou, featuring unfinished Japanese cypress that blends seamlessly with the garden views.
Fresh from a four-year refurbishment, the ryokan offers a charming mix of open and secluded spaces created by the use of traditional cedar kakine (fence), which creates a sense of harmony as guests wander through the interiors and the gardens. Communal-style meals are encouraged at the main dining room, while the multipurpose garden room Azumaya creates an intimate space for meditation. For extra privacy, each guest suite or duplex comes with its own private garden or balcony.
The dining experience here spotlights home-cooked meals, elevated to pique even the fussiest of palates. The chefs work on crafting a seasonal expression of local ingredients by showcasing the abundance of the land, including seafood, fresh citrus, and vegetables. Other highlights include a coffee roasters and an activity center, all designed for guests to interact and mingle with the locals.
Across the street from Azumi Setoda lies the yubune bathhouse, which welcomes guests with a repurposed tablet emblazoned with the motto of the original owners, the Horiuchi Family. It read: “New Day, New Wind”, a timely reminder of the changing winds of time. Inside the baths, the island’s scenery, along with Setouchi’s rich marine life, are intricately depicted through beautiful wall murals by Japanese artist Mai Miyake.
More information here.