Four quintessentially Japanese places to stay.
In a country with such a long legacy of hospitality that a 200-year-old ryokan is considered a recent arrival, it can be tough for new hotels to make a splash. These properties, all of which debuted in the past few years, stand out.
Fuji-no-Kirameki FujiGotemba, Gotemba, Shizuoka
Set in a valley near Mount Fuji, these compact corrugated-steel-and-wood cabins have private terraces and retractable roofs, so you can sleep under the stars while enjoying 21st-century amenities (Bluetooth speakers, digital projectors). Dinners range from full-service multicourse affairs to grill-it-yourself platters of seasoned meats and vegetables. From $260 per person.
Zaborin, Niseko, Hokkaido
The forested grounds of this ryokan feel so remote that you’d hardly guess you’re just 20 minutes from Japan’s best ski resorts. The 15 villas have low-slung furnishings and few accessories, save for the occasional artwork or ikebana arrangement. But with private indoor-outdoor hot tubs, kaiseki meals prepared with foraged ingredients, and pine-scented bath amenities, Zaborin doesn’t lack for luxury. Doubles from $667, all-inclusive.
Trunk Hotel, Tokyo
This Shibuya newcomer has made an outsize impact for a hotel with just 11 rooms and four suites — in part because its public spaces include a cocktail lounge, two restaurants, and a concept store, all of which have become favorites among the neighborhood’s in-crowd. The hotel’s socially and environmentally conscious leanings play out in the details: Tokyo-made snacks in the mini-bars, loaner bikes cobbled together from refurbished parts, and activities that highlight the work of area artists, chefs, and musicians. Doubles from $293.
Kyomachiya Hotel Shikijuraku, Kyoto
This property has only been open for a year, but its 10 two-story machiyas, or shop-houses, date back more than a century. Within each, you’ll find Japanese design elements — tatami mats, rice-paper screens — plus Beni Ourain rugs and sculptural furnishings that create a modern, multicultural feel. Doubles from $333.