Luxury hotel planned for historic site in Nara Park

Nara Prefecture is accepting bids from private companies for a hotel development to be located within the Nara Park grounds in Nara City. The 1.3 hectare site is located on the southern side of Nara Park’s Ukimi-do Hall, and was purchased by the prefecture from the national government in 2005.

Prior to the Meiji Restoration, the property was home to one of Kofuku-ji’s sub-temples. In 1890 it was sold to Nara poet Haruyasu Umeda (1850-1917). From 1911, it became the holiday villa of Kenshiro Yamaguchi (1886-1957), a wealthy banker and president of the Kansai Trust Bank (the predecessor of the Toyo Trust Bank, which is now part of the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation). After WWII, the annex of the Nara Family Court was built on the land. The land is currently vacant although traces of the original Japanese garden remain.

A local conservation group is opposed to the planned development and has started a petition. The site is within Nara Park, which is registered as a World Heritage Site and designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty and subject to strict zoning laws that would normally prohibit new construction.

The Prefecture has started a public appeal for private corporations to submit bids for hotel and restaurant facilities. The plans are for a luxury hotel with room sizes of over 50 sqm each. A former teahouse from the Taisho period will also be reconstructed and open to public use. A winning bid will be selected by early April 2017.

The original teahouse.

The Prefecture is also currently accepting bids for a hotel to be built on the 3.2 hectare site of the former Prefectural Governor’s Residence located on the eastern side of the Nara Prefectural Office.

Sources:
The Yomiuri Shimbun, December 27, 2016.
Construction News, December 27, 2016.
Nara Prefecture Homepage.

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