Travel

New luxury ryokan to attract culture vultures to Japanese modern art island

An exterior sunset view of the Roka Ryokan hotel on Naoshima

A new luxury ryokan opening on Naoshima, a small Japanese island in the Setouchi Inland Sea, hopes to become a magnet for lovers of contemporary art and design.

Roka opens in April 2022, to coincide with the island’s Triennale culture and arts festival.

The island of Naoshima has been transformed by an ambitious project that begun in the eighties, to regenerate and celebrate contemporary art in the setting of the Seto Inland Sea. Since then, it’s become a destination for lovers of modern art and architecture. A giant pumpkin on the pier, the work of renowned artist Yayoi Kusuma, welcomes visitors.

The opening of Roka adds a luxury option for art-lovers wanting to fully experience the island’s quirky attractions. The first traditional inn to open on Naoshima, it was conceived to complement the Naoshima art experience. Run by a fourth-generation hotelier, the chic hotel will offer 11 suites, each with a private rotenburo open-air bath.

The new Roka ryokan will feature a Japanese-style gallery lounge, featuring contemporary art pieces, primarily by young creators, and a restaurant offering locally sourced oysters and other fresh seafood, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

The opening of Roka adds a luxury option for art-lovers wanting to fully experience the island…

Concept art of the Roka ryokan hotel on Naoshima
The Roka gallery lounge

Those staying at Roka can use it as a base to explore other Naoshima attractions, including the Benesse House Museum and Ando Museum, both designed by Tadao Ando, and the subterranean Chichu Art Museum. Need to relax? I Love Yu is a functioning bathhouse that doubles as a space for the art community.

The spring Setouchi Triennale is a multi-site festival featuring artists from around the world. Uniquely, artworks are installed across multiple islands, so visitors must island-hop to take it all in. Official guided tours by chartered boat are available to ensure visitors don’t miss a thing.

A visit to Naoshima promises to be an immersive experience – many of the structures on the island have been built to celebrate and challenge the relationship between people and nature, and to transform the island itself and its former structures into a work of art.  

Access to Naoshima is via a 20-minute ferry or passenger boat ride from the port in the city of Uno, Okayama Prefecture. Uno is around an hour by local train (JR Uno Line) from JR Okayama Station, which is on a Shinkansen route.

Setouchi is the largest inland sea in Japan, surrounded by Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, and Ehime prefectures.

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