An atmosphere as tranquil as the stones and trees of the garden
This ryokan is comprised of nine guest rooms built on the slope of Mt. Wakakusa. Sekiyou (Seki: stone, you: leaves) was named by proprietress Tamie Komatsu, who began the inn with three guest rooms in 1964 with the aim of creating a property with a charm and elegance as tranquil as that of the stones and the trees in the garden, as well as a sustainable business that would be like a moss-covered stone, a symbol of longevity. The architecture standing today was completed 20 years ago, designed by Komatsu’s uncle, who worked at the design office of Yoshimura Junzo at the time. We can see the influence here of Yoshimura, who left an important imprint on Japanese architecture, establishing a style fusing the Japanese and the modern.
Certainly, there’s no ostentatious production here; beauty is properly restrained while every aspect, down to the finest detail, has been mindfully prepared. Daily, flowers are arranged in simple but elegant vases, and are beautiful, but, typical of the local flora, rouse in the viewer a feeling of the essence of wildness. Not a single day goes by without the staff attending to the secret work behind the scenes, like taking care of the ashes in the incense burner; through the maintenance of a sense of beauty, all unnecessary tension is carefully kept at bay. Both ingredients and tableware are carefully selected, and although every detail is refined, the atmosphere allows guests to enjoy a relaxing and comfortable stay.
Passing through a white noren (short split curtain), visitors are guided to a guest house filled with soft light filtered by shoji (papered sliding doors), which creates an exceptional atmosphere. In the summer, yoshizu (framed reed blinds) are fitted in the windows, allowing in a refreshingly cooler light. A wall desk with extendable legs is set into the sunken floor and there is a smooth Internet connection. This inn offers a welcome setup for guests who like to take a break while working and work while on vacation, allowing for the merging of labor and relaxation.
The clear water gushing from the source of the in-house hot spring constantly fills the cypress baths in the guest rooms. From the large public bath, guests can see Jukkokutoge Pass and Mt. Iwato in the far distance. In the community room there are chairs designed by both Eames and George Nakashima; the landscape and comfortable seating soften the atmosphere in this relaxation space. The moment you take a seat, you feel completely calm, from your very core. In the well-shaped pot on the side table, you’ll find chilled savory fragrant Ashitaba tea.
As the name Sekiyou suggests, there are beautiful stones, trees, flowers and mosses in the garden and in the corridors. Guests in wooden zori (sandal-like traditional footwear) experience a pleasant sensation on the soles of their feet as they traverse the passageway in whose earthen floor is incorporated a gravel of fine pebbles. This passageway is watered many times a day, so that the wet pavement glitters mysteriously, lending a certain elegance. Whenever I visit this inn, I find another innovative arrangement or addition to the space or fixtures. There are those who appreciate these thoughtful touches; among the inn’s repeat visitors are many connoisseurs and cultural figures.