Natural soul – Azumi Setoda

おもてなし – omotenashi –  It’s the Japanese word for ‘hospitality’and surely Shiro Miura had this concept clear in his mind when he designed Azumi Setoda, a traditional ryokan (traditional Japanese guest house) realized with natural materials. Located in a small island called Ikuchijima, the ryokan is surrounded by a 140-year old residential compound  where the art of Shiro Miura of transforming spaces and buildings to give them a new life took place. Open spaces created according to concept oh yohaku (‘black space’) where the guests can relax and meditate. A mixture of private and communal that offers to the guests the possibility to meet and create new connections but also to live a deeper and experience in solitude. 

Moisture, wind, and light, these are the three elements Miura desired to rebalance as he uses wood, stone, and soil as his primary materials deeply working with them as living parts of the construction and the environment around it. All of the furniture within the ryokan has been custom made in co-creation with Doi Mokkou, a local artisan specialising in wood and primary using local varieties such as the Japanese Cypress, designed to blend with the interiors. The bathhouse resides across the street from Azumi Setoda and guests are welcomed into the building by a repurposed tablet bearing the motto of the original owners, the Horiuchi Family, “New Day, New Wind”. 

The tiled artwork has been designed by Japanese artist Mai Miyake, converting the traditional Mount Fuji motif found in sento (public bathhouses) with the scenery of the island and Setouchi’s rich ocean life within the intricate wall murals.In a gesture to the wider community of Setoda, Azumi will operate yubune not only for its ryokan guests, but as a public bathhouse where all are welcomed. Guests will be invited to learn about and experience Japanese bathing culture, lemon and salt bathing, and sauna.

Project: Azumi Setoda
Architects: Shiro Miura
Year: 2021
Photo: Tomohiro Sakashita