Hoshinoya, Japanese luxury resort label and flagship brand of Hoshino Resorts, traces back to 1904, in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. Operating in six locations— Karuizawa, Kyoto, Taketomi Island, Fuji, Tokyo, and Bali—Hoshinoya proposes an alternate genre of accommodation through a contemporary reinterpretation of ryokan, the quintessential embodiment of the Japanese spirit and philosophy of service and hospitality.
Welcome to the 66th edition of B.
We recently moved our offices to new quarters, where we’re scrambling through our second wave of deadlines. Our new building seems a bit more special because it’s a complex of offices and commercial spaces like café, a gallery, and a flower shop, mixed alongside residential spaces. When we come to work or return from assignments, it now feels like we’re traveling to a neighborhood within a neighborhood. Because the entrance into the complex branches off into several different directions, each path to the office offers its own unique ambience. We’ll probably see many changes as the seasons shift from spring to summer and then summer to fall. Depending on how time flows, not only are there differences in the colors of the trees and plants and the various densities of light, but you see changes in the clothes people wear or in their facial expressions. In an era where people work on computers and smartphones while managing their relationships on social media and mobile messengers, “luxury” lies within physical experiences and sensations. Taking your time observing what goes on in the world around you, sensing the smallest changes and ruminating over them—that’s what happens when you truly rest and relax.
The brand of this issue, Hoshinoya, is a luxury resort chain by Hoshino Resorts that offers its own unique type of rest and relaxation. There are many accommodation services in the world, including global hotel chains that each develops its own concept and type of leisure space. But where Hoshinoya distinguishes itself is in its complete reinvention of the rules of conventional hospitality. Come to think of it, if you look over the brands covered in B, there aren’t many that offer a completely new product or service. Rather, they each took the time to analyze and grasp the traditions and principles of their industry better than anyone before determining which aspects would go along with their brand’s direction. Hoshinoya is a brand that’s highly skilled at keeping what’s worth saving and discarding the rest. Their method of reinvention can be defined as the process of highlighting their strengths and forfeiting their weak areas. They adopted Japan’s traditional ryokan form of accommodation but assimilated aspects of Western hotels in their service and interior designs, cleanly eliminating anything they couldn’t use and thereby creating their own formula. They also offer more choice to the customer by offering options for rooms without things like appliances, TVs, or clocks, as well as the option to skip meals within the resort. Another interesting aspect of their style of reinvention is the bold embracement of geological features that would normally be viewed as architectural obstacles. This is why their first branch in Karuizawa and their second branch in Kyoto are completely different in their exteriors, even though they’re part of the same brand. This is also why you can’t describe Hoshinoya’s concept with aggressive words like “resort development.”
Hoshinoya’s idea of leisure is another topic worth mulling over in this issue. While it was expressed in the Karuizawa and Kyoto resorts, their towering urban ryokan, opened in 2016 in the middle of Tokyo’s financial district, was an even more definitive example of their type of rest and relaxation. At first glance, the 17-story structure amid a cluster of office buildings doesn’t look different from any other hotel, but the moment you step inside Hoshinoya Tokyo, all of your expectations are overturned. You have to adhere to the ryokan tradition of removing your shoes before entering the premises, which is more a symbolic separation from the outside world and daily life than it is a performance of traditional experience. It’s also a way for the guest to prepare to completely accept the type of service offered inside. Visitors to attached facilities like the restaurant or the lounge bar are not permitted inside the guests’ realm, creating a completely private world. Yet within this confined world people are encouraged to freely interact and communicate with each other, making it more like a village than a hotel. Interaction within a closed-off space is encouraged in all Hoshinoya branches, and all of them have added the cleverness of creating services that directly cater to our human desires for both separation and connection. It’s a redistribution of not only physical space but time as well. Hoshinoya understands that creating a luxury experience involves the act of pooling time around you, creating the very moment that would make you say, “Time passes by at a slow pace.”
Content & Editorial Director