Kai Sengokuhara — Hakone, Japan
Claiming to be the world’s first Japanese ryokan with a focus on art, Kai Sengokuhara has an on-site gallery, an atelier and a residency programme that regularly hosts 12 artists from around the world.
With art materials on tap, guests are encouraged to indulge in their own creativity, which should flow, considering the hotel’s location among the Hakone region’s mountains. The 16 serene guestrooms are layered with tatami mat flooring, shoji screens and cypress wood latticework, while each comes with its own private outdoor bath pumped with the milky white waters from the Owakudani volcanic valley.
The property’s mountainous setting and its proximity to the sea informs its food which, at dinner, comprises a multi-course kaiseki menu with dishes that include fast-smoked salmon or grilled abalone. Outside of the hotel, Hakone is emerging as something of a hub for art-lovers, with a string of museums and galleries scattered among its mountainside villages.§