Off the main road, hidden and tucked against the woods.
Naoshima Ryokan Roka quietly stands in perfect harmony with surrounding nature. As each season gives to the next, the island lets us see different aspects of natural beauty. In particular, a scene of morning mist rising from the reservoir and wafting off with the breeze is out of this world.
What we hope to be is what our outdoor hearth symbolises for our guests, where people from far and wide can find comfort and come together around art and weave the rich tapestry of their life stories thus far. With “Ro” meaning, open fire, and, ka, mist, this is how our ryokan’s name was conceived.
Be still and live in the moment like the mist that gently rises with the slow pace of the island.
Premium quality seafood from the Seto Inland Sea
Anyone who has a palette for traditional Japanese cuisine lavishly praises the fish caught in the Seto Inland Sea. We would like more people to taste our seafood dishes, which are prepared with great care and forethought. We are convinced that not only we Japanese but also our overseas guests will be delighted by their freshness and flavours while savouring our original seafood courses.
Immersed in Japanese aesthetics and harmony
The guest suites are designed with the intention of maximising the level of comfort that a traditional Japanese space can provide for our guests. The Japanese word, wa, means “something Japanese” and also “harmony.” Our decision to adopt a Japanese design is not to use the style for its own sake but to celebrate its potential for creating a peaceful space where everyone can enjoy a happy life by living side by side with nature and appreciating what each season brings.
Make the most of our open-air baths, where you can have a leisurely soak feeling the breeze from the woods while admiring the modern artworks that perfectly blend in with the Japanese interior. Come and live with the slow pace of the inland---tasting our freshly prepared dishes using the local produce and enjoying the architectural details in your room with which we tried to express our version of the ultimate contemporary Japanese style.
Travellers mingle around the hearth
One of the main features of our inn - a communal outdoor hearth, is set right in the middle of the property. From ancient times, we have gathered around the fire and imagined the unseen world of myths and magic.
By creating a place where both international and domestic modern art lovers can organically interact with each other around the fire pit, we hope to make art a more integral part of our lives.
The fire alight from sunset to 01:00
* The tea served by the owner is complimentary.
* The bar is open from 21:00- 01:00.
Incubator for emerging talent
Commissioned works by young artists are displayed around the inn. Once every six months, a selected artist is given an opportunity to show their works and offer them for sale in all the eleven suites.
With Mr. Shigeo Goto, a professor at Kyoto University of the Arts as our curator, we aim to make our ryokan an incubator for emerging talent and actively share information about domestic contemporary art.
The front courtyard and hill behind
The front courtyard “Sanshi-suimei”
The front courtyard “Sanshi-suimei” designed by Yardworks, a landscape design company, is a zen rock garden expressing the blessings of the gods with the depiction of rice paddies, the mountain range with rocks and the rivers with gravel. The placement of the rice paddies and the outdoor hearth was determined by the traditional Japanese gardening ratio, Hakugin-hi, also used in the construction of Horyuji Temple in Nara, the oldest wooden structure in the world.
Inspired by our own hybrid culture, Yardworks placed both domestic and foreign plants side by side while making it one of a kind by adorning it with the local Karami bricks, Mikage granite and the world-famous Aji stones. I hope you will witness the beauty that the garden expresses as each season gives to the next.
The front courtyard shows a different face at night with its lighting. The art installation created by “Creative Company 1→10” has programmed a system where, when an event/incident occurs somewhere in the world, a signal is sent directly to the lighting devices buried within the plants and automatically starts off a show in real time together with original music. It is a permanent interactive artwork well fit for Naoshima, a globally known art destination, for our guests to be able to feel in touch with the world whilst staying in Japan.
Recreating a hamlet on the hill
The hill behind the accommodation wing which you can view from the open-air bath in each suite is the site of an ongoing project led by Ryota Hagihara, a flower arrangement expert, to recreate hamlet-like scenery that once existed in the Japan of the past. Based on the concept of “beauty resides where people live,” we have planted the types of fruit trees that used to cover the land and grow vegetables inspired by a natural farming method. The whole area designated to the project has become an art installation in itself created with the natural resources that will eventually return to the earth. The produce cultivated here is nutritious and has rich and distinctive flavours. By offering dishes prepared with our own produce straight from our garden at our restaurant En, we aim to be part of the life-cycle nurtured by the land while being a harmonious element in the scenery of the traditional hamlet we are trying to recreate.
Immerse yourself in art
I am the fourth-generation owner of an 88-year-old ryokan. The property is in a hot spring town called Yunogo with a 1,300-year-history in Mimasaka City, Okayama, tucked in the Chugoku mountain range. The area thrived with its iron production whilst giving birth to the culture of many other traditional Japanese arts and crafts. My ryokan in Yunogo showcases locally crafted wooden furniture and tableware as well as many artworks made with glass, which are well received by our guests.
One day, I was approached by a master carpenter with the idea of opening a Japanese-style inn in his hometown. He is originally from Naoshima and he lamented the lack of ryokans there saying, “it’s a shame, our overseas guests don’t get to experience the spirit of Japanese hospitality.” He planted a vision in me-to start a ryokan in Naoshima, a place that already attracts so many travellers from all over the world, but rather than focusing on the local crafts and the artisans’ skills, I would like to create a space featuring Japanese contemporary art. The guests are bound to experience unexpected surprises, leading to new ways of thinking, or the art with which they interact will spark an inner search within…these were some of my thoughts at an early stage of conceiving the ryokan.
Art is meant to shake up one’s mind, heal one’s soul and inspire one to take action. Interacting with artworks at Roka is different from seeing them at galleries and museums. Your experience with them is much deeper and more personal. Nothing makes me happier than witnessing new ideas and connections being made and sparked from your interaction with our art collection and with other guests at our ryokan.
A place to mingle at sunset in the Seto Inland Sea
With Roka, I am reliving some of the unforgettable memories from my own travels. During the two-year period after graduating from university in Tokyo, I visited 33 countries around the world from Southeast Asia back to Machu-Pichu in South America. That was back in 2001. Each place I landed on had its own charm and I remember my time there fondly. However, what I enjoyed the most was all the encounters with both the locals and the fellow travellers wherever I went. Trying to understand each other using all the communication tools available including gesture while coming up against language barriers was extremely exciting because it was like encountering their cultures themselves. Looking back, this was when I started having a vision for creating a place where people from all over the world can come together and freely share their stories.
April 2022. Naoshima Ryokan Roka was launched. This is a place where people from all over the world can mingle and connect regardless of their differences through art. My vision has been fulfilled.
I will not spare any effort in making our inn a centre for contemporary art that constantly inspires our guests to feel creative and providing experiences which no other ryokans in Japan can offer.
- Naoshima Ryokan Roka Owner
- Shintaro Sasaki