Where tranquil silence is reflected on clear water
On the eastern end of the Kii Peninsula, Ago Bay, whose coastline is particularly complex, forms a landscape that looks as if its deep indentations were embracing the Pacific Ocean. This resort is located on a hilltop overlooking the endlessly changing sea. It opened in March, 2016. Amanemu is Aman Resorts’ second property in Japan, completed seven years after its conception. Its design is the work of architect Kerry Hill. This splendid property represents Hill’s latest work and the finest example of resort architecture, featuring minimalist structures that blend in with the topography and a resort hotel known for an infinity pool in which the reflection of the landscape presents enchanting scenery.
When it comes to resorts, we tend to imagine architecture designed simply to attract attention and soft environments that relax the senses. However, the primary and outstanding element of AMANEMU is the practical use of the area’s serenity. The view is peaceful and quiet. One senses the skilled work of the architect, who has designed the structure to make the most ideal use of the climate and natural features. If you throw open the villa’s large floor-to-ceiling sliding door, the spectacle of Ago Bay is framed perfectly.
Buildings with roofs with sloped and balanced like that of Ise Jingu are larger in scale than those of typical Japanese-style houses, so the proportion of a single tile as compared to the entire roof naturally decreases. Perhaps that’s why the texture of this tiled roof seems too orderly. With time, and without me noticing, the rhythm of the crowded tiles, which I remember giving me a sense of discomfort, becomes very comfortable. All the wooden joints are aligned, on floor, wall, and ceiling. Here, a Shinto-esque minimalism is boldly and gracefully developed.
The pool is beautiful, but the large hot bath facility fed by a natural hot spring is also refreshing. There is an option for a second-level temperature, but even the water at the higher temperature is relatively lukewarm; you can certainly take your time soaking. In a relatively small louvered gazebo, bath towel-wrapped mattresses await; after warming your body, wrap yourself in a bathrobe and lie down, leading consciousness to fade gradually. It’s a bounteous pleasure, with a different concept from those of tubs made of cypress or surrounded by rocks.
There is no doubt that the area is blessed with an abundance of marine products, but the cuisine and the service here are certainly at a very high level. Considering the name, one definitely must try the local ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster from Ise Bay). The sashimi is lovely, but on the first day, we asked for bisque. I felt that the rough brininess of crustacean soup was subdued elegantly. I was impressed by the exquisite roasting of the skewers of wild game, which exquisitely drew out the flavor of the venison.The individual box-shaped hakozen tables on which our breakfast was presented, was not lacquered but unvarnished, which inspired me with its beauty and functionality.