Ace Hotel to open hotel in Kyoto’s historic Shinpukan building

Ace Hotel, a boutique hotel chain headquartered in Portland, is making its first foray in the Asian market with the opening of a hotel in Kyoto next year. The 213-room Ace Hotel Kyoto will be the main part of the historic Shinpukan redevelopment. With architect Kengo Kuma leading the project’s design, the hotel will incorporate the existing building’s early 20th century architectural elements with contemporary styling. The building is the perfect fit for the hotelier’s brand which focuses on reviving and repurposing older and more character-filled buildings.

Asakusa’s Ryounkaku Tower foundations unearthed at construction site

Red-brick foundations of the Ryounkaku Tower in Asakusa were unearthed in a construction site in February. News of the discovery quickly spread, with a number of people visiting the site to catch a glimpse of the long-lost tower’s traces.

According to the Taito-ku Board of Education, similar red-brick foundations were found in a construction site nearby in 1980. However, since the remains are not considered cultural property and are not in particularly good condition, there are no heritage protections or limitations to restrict the construction work. A 3-storey retail building is planned for the site.

Government seeking to acquire and preserve historic villas in Oiso

The Japanese government is considering converting several privately owned historic villas in the coastal town of Oiso into a public park. The project may include acquiring the properties and restoring them so that they can be opened to the public.

The proposal covers a 6 hectare site including the Sorokaku Villa, former Ikeda Shigeaki Residence, former Okuma Shigenobu Residence, and former Mutsu Minemitsu Residence.

The properties are owned by private companies and not currently open to the public. Some of the homes, which are unused, have fallen into various states of disrepair over the years. The government may consider purchasing the buildings and land from their owners and has set aside 27.3 billion Yen (approx. 240 million USD) in the national park’s budget for the project.

Historic Kudan Kaikan redevelopment plans announced

On September 21st, the Kanto Local Finance Bureau announced that Tokyu Land had won the competitive bidding process for the redevelopment of the Kudan Kaikan building in central Tokyo. The bidding price will be announced after Tokyu signs the contractural agreement in March 2018.

The developer will lease the 8,700 sqm block of land under a 70-year fixed-term and will build a high-rise office tower on the site. The north-eastern corner of the original Kudan Kaikan building will be preserved and retrofitted using a base-isolation system (menshin-kozo).

100+ year old convent to be converted into luxury hotel

On July 31, Mori Trust announced that they have acquired the historic former Maria-en Catholic nursery school in Nagasaki. Mori will restore the 119-year old building and convert it into an internationally-branded luxury hotel targeting wealthy foreign tourists with an opening scheduled for around 2022. Mori Trust operates 21 hotels across Japan, and this will be their first venture in the Kyushu region. The seller was the Minami Yamate-kai social welfare corporation.

Kobe Maya Hotel seeking national heritage listing

A non-profit organisation is seeking donations to help preserve the 88-year old Maya Hotel and prepare it for a potential national heritage listing.

The art deco hotel was built in 1929 on the hills overlooking Kobe City. It has been closed since 1993 and has been left to rot and fall into ruin. In 2016, a local group obtained permission from the owner, an Osaka-based real estate company, to open it up for public tours.

Historic Atami Villa sold to developer

On June 13 Mori Trust announced that they have acquired the historic holiday home of Taneji Yamazaki (1893-1983) in Atami City for an undisclosed price. Yamazaki was a successful businessman, founding several trading companies, including one which is now SMBC Friend Securities. In 1966 he founded the Yamatane Museum of Art in Tokyo, which was the first museum to feature only Japanese paintings.

The Yamatane-ryo was built in 1936. It is located just north of Kinomiya Station and about a 15 minute drive from Atami Station. It is a peaceful hillside neighbourhood with a history dating back over 1300 years. The 8,300 sqm (89,000 sq ft) property has views of Atami Bay, Hashima Island as well as the numerous firework festivals held over the bay throughout the year. Although the purchase price was not made public, similar properties in the Atami area are extremely rare and can fetch upwards of 1 billion Yen (approx. 9 million USD+).