Boutique brand rebuilds historic houses for Japanese luxury resort

by | 04 Aug 2022 | Design

Imagery courtesy of The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts.

The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts is relocating 19th century traditional kominka Japanese houses for a new luxury resort in Hokkaido.

The Pavilions Niseko Resort will launch in Q4 2024, and the build includes the painstaking reconstruction of a c. 125-year-old kominka.

Villas in natural harmony

A villa resort concept, the hotel’s buildings are being constructed in the sukiya architectural style, where natural materials and Japanese architectural elements work in harmony with the outdoor scenery. Nestled in the Ginto Hirafu forest, the finished resort will comprise 19 hotel villas; 24 private ‘Ginto Residences’, which owners can choose to purchase as an already-completed residence or build their own; a Clubhouse with restaurant, bar, lounge and reception; a spa offering a selection of wellness facilities; and an Onsen house which will welcome guests with a traditional bathing experience.

Four villas are already completed, along with the official registration of the Pavilions Ginto Onsen by the Ministry of Environment in accordance with Japan’s ‘Hot Springs Act’.

New lease of life

Formerly a family home in Takayama, a two-storey timber kominka has been given a new lease of life as the upcoming resort’s Clubhouse, placing vernacular architecture at the heart of the resort’s experience.

Recently completed, the Clubhouse was first built around 120 – 130 years ago in Takayama city, Gifu prefecture – famed for its master craftsmen and carpenters. After being purchased by The Pavilions, the building was meticulously dismantled by a local traditional master builder.

The 40 tonnes of individually tagged bicentennial timbers were then transported over 800 miles to the resort site in Hokkaido, before being reconstructed with sympathetic extension and additions designed by ALT-254. A second historic kominka, dating back to 1859, is also in the process of being dismantled and relocated, in preparation for its new life as the resort’s spa building.

Ground-breaking ritual

In keeping with Japanese custom, reconstruction of the Clubhouse kominka began with a traditional Jichinsai ground-breaking ritual. Literally meaning ‘pacification of the grounds’, the Jichinsai serves to sanctify the ground, calm its energy and bless the new building.

Performed in this instance by a Buddhist monk – although more usually done in the Shinto style – the ceremony included the presentation of offerings such as sake, rice and salt to the spirit of the land. Mochi rice cakes were also scattered from the top of the kominka to bring abundance and good business.

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The Pavilions likes to be seen as a stand-alone group. The boutique brand likes to think outside the box and be bolder, offering an unforgettable level of service beyond guests’ expectations.

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