Aman takes its cues from traditional Japanese architecture for its new Kyoto opening
The star attraction of Aman’s new 24-room boutique property in Kyoto is, no doubt, its spectacular natural setting within a once-forgotten secret garden and beyond that a 72-acre backdrop of lush forest, swathed with maple, pine and cedar trees.
Formerly owned by one of Japan’s most respected collectors of the obi - the ornamental sash for a kimono - whose intention was to house his collection in a textile museum to be built within the garden, the estate has now been transformed by architect Kerry Hill who, for his final project with the Aman group, inserted a series of low-key black timber-slatted pavilions over the garden’s terraced platforms, which are laced with a tableau of moss-covered paths and fringed by a small stream and a wooded hill.
In sticking to the Aman MO, the interiors are calm, minimal and understated, taking their cues from traditional Japanese architecture and highlighting the work of local artisans. The guestrooms take their cues from traditional ryokans - albeit with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the leafy views outside - with tatami flooring, low-slung furnishings, fragrant cypress wood ofuro bathtubs and tokonomas (traditional alcoves) adorned with scrolls by artist Sakai Yuji and sake vessels, by Terada Teppei, which are used as vases. Meanwhile handcrafted ceramic tiles, by Kyoto-based Shigeo Yoshimura, adorn the Dining Pavilion.
After a morning spent exploring Kyoto’s 17 Unesco World Heritage Sites, including the nearby Kinkaku-ji Temple, pick up one of the bamboo picnic hampers to enjoy in the gardens or indulge at the Aman Spa, which has traditional onsen bathing facilities using water from a local spring. Follow this with a a traditional kaiseki meal in the Dining Pavilion, or for something more laidback, home-cooked Kyoto obanzai-style fare is served throughout the day in the Living Pavilion restaurant.§