• In May, Shishi-Iwa House Unveils Hinoki House No.3, Designed by Pritzker Laureate Ryue Nishizawa

    11 April 2023

    (11 April 2023, Karuizawa, Japan) Shishi-Iwa House announces the opening of SSH No.03, the latest in its collection of intimately crafted architectural masterpieces situated in Japan’s popular Karuizawa mountain resort town just an hour by train from Tokyo. Designed by Pritzker Prize laureate and co-founder of SANAA Ryue Nishizawa, SSH No.03 is a mountain nature retreat for families and friends to spend quiet time together without the interruption of urban life and to inspire the regeneration of intellectual creativity. The retreat is Nishizawa’s first hotel project and pays homage to century-old traditional Japanese residential architecture. 

    SSH No.03 follows SSH No.01 and SSH No.02, opened in 2018 and in 2022, respectively, and designed by another Pritzker Prize laureate Shigeru Ban. All three Houses, each situated mere minutes on foot from the other, collectively form SHISHI-IWA HOUSE KARUIZAWA with guests sharing all common facilities. The three Houses present a unique opportunity for guests to compare different architecture styles by these master architects. Promoting the harmonious coexistence of architecture and nature, all Houses are designed to connect the guests to their natural surroundings while celebrating simplicity in its purest form.   

    SSH No.03 is comprised of 10 pavilions interconnect by a series of engawa (covered walkways) and garden courtyards. The retreat is exclusive with only 10 guest rooms and 1 cabin villa offering both Superior Rooms (western style) and Tatami Suites. Inspired by spacial transparency as well as Ma, the Japanese concept of negative space, Nishizawa deliberately creates empty areas through minimal furnishings and embellishments, allowing natural light to stream continuously through the rooms’ windows. All guest rooms are stand-alone unit with open windows on all four walls, affording the guests with unparalleled connection with surrounding forest and internal Japanese gardens. All units also come with a wrapped terrace, extending seamlessly the boundaries from the inside to the outside.   

    The revered hinoki cypress wood features prominently throughout SSH No.03. Sourcing the Japanese hinoki from Gifu Prefecture, Nishizawa deploys the distinctive shade and fragrance of the rare wood to both the structure and the interiors of the retreat, including fixed furnishings, resulting in a breathtakingly austere visual impact upon entering the room. Hinoki cypress is considered a “sacred” wood in Japan as it has been used for centuries to build shrines, temples and palaces given its durability and the aromatic scents. In the practice of building SSH No.03, high standards for sustainability are carefully maintained through a small building footprint, using carbon-friendly timber sourced primarily in Japan.  

    A favorite feature of the architect himself, the winding engawa walkway that intersects the pavilions offers in-between spaces that allow for discovery and contemplation. The landscape is carefully constructed with more than hundreds of cherry, maple and evergreen trees planted to provide an ever-changing display of colorful foliage in all seasons. Four Japanese courtyards plotted along the walkway are designed to create moments of stillness, completing a spiritual journey in which guests become one with nature – and with themselves.  

    A bathhouse and tea house also serve to complement the Ma experience envisioned by the architect. Deepening the mental wellness experience, SSH No.03 plans to offer carefully designed massage, yoga, meditation sessions. SSH No.03’s location within the serene Karuizawa Yacho no Mori, the National Wild Bird Sanctuary, in the embrace of almost 100 hectares of lush forest, naturally expands moments of rejuvenation, with forest bathing and special walking tours such as a waterfall trail, art and architecture tours, and farm excursions. 

    Guests can also enjoy direct access to all facilities at SSH No.01 and SSH No.02, including the restaurant and bar, which offer fine dining options; sake, wine and whisky tastings; and tea rituals.  

    Complementing the House’s traditional architecture is a collection of antique Japanese furniture as well as vintage mid-century modern furniture, including historically significant pieces by Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Jeanneret, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Bill Max, Michael Thonet, and Bodil Kjaer.   On display throughout SSH No.03 is a significant cultural heritage collection of approximately 50 original ukiyo-e woodblock prints from a dozen major artists including Utagawa Hiroshige and Shibata Zeshin in the 1840s, and Azechi Umetaro and Sekino Junichiro in the 1960s.

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