A Traditional Japanese Inn Made Modern

The buildings of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma may sometimes seem radical (his cocoon-shaped tea house, for example), but on closer inspection are thoughtful and humanistic. When Kuma was asked to renovate the four-story Ginzan Onsen Fujiya, a traditional hot spring inn in Yamagata (the Northern part of Honshu), he used traditional forms as his template but rendered them in a modern way.

Kuma elected to take the building apart while retaining the existing facade; he gutted the interiors, however, to incorporate a two-story-high atrium, featuring layers of bamboo screens and custom stained glass. The inn’s owners, Atsushi Fuji and his wife Jeanie, an American who went to great pains to become a trained okami (a female innkeeper), are much like the building: a modern tribute to longstanding Japanese traditions. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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