Arts & Culture

Bringing Ancient Harmony to a Modern Resort

Private resort XIV Toba Bettei embraces Japanese tradition
BY Crystal Shi TIMEJuly 6, 2018 PRINT

Traditional Japanese aesthetics define XIV Toba Bettei, a membership resort hotel in Ise-Shima.  The Ise-Shima region is located in Japan’s southern Mie Prefecture and consists of the cities of Ise, Toba, and Shima, and the town of Minami-Ise.

The resort overlooks the waters of Ise-Shima and features a traditional Japanese-style garden with a large pond that creates an illusion of continuity with the sea. The design of the facility expresses the idea of “teioku ichinyo,” a Japanese expression representing the exquisite natural harmony between the building and the garden.

The interior continues this ancient principle of harmony. The floor plan and spaces are designed to preserve a connection to the outside view. Asymmetrical planes, sliding doors, and cloisters connect the indoors and outdoors, lending a sense of coherence and unity between the two.

The guest rooms, implemented as part of a new annex to the hotel, incorporate the design concept of “inei raisan” (“In Praise of Shadows”),  which emphasizes a traditional appreciation of shadows and subtlety in Japanese culture. “In Praise of Shadows” is an essay on Japanese aesthetics by renowned Japanese author and novelist Junichiro Tanizaki. Paper-framed lamps provide low lighting, and furniture is arranged with a low center of gravity, establishing a low line of sight.

Guided by these concepts, the rooms incorporate features of Japanese architecture, using traditional materials and colors to create a new Japanese-style space. Headboards are designed as bedside screens to protect against the wind, while traditional Japanese paper screens and lattices, marked with watermark techniques, allow the light and breeze to gently pass through. The panels on the walls where television storage boards are arranged are overlapped using a 12-layer nesting method, lending them a resemblance to a work of art.

Traditional wood, paper, gilt leaf, and lacquer are frequent motifs, and gold, silver, and copper colors join a traditional palette of vermilion, indigo, and mustard-yellow to create a unique Japanese style. The resort is a testament to the time-honored beauty of Japan, and the persistence of its traditional values of harmony and oneness with nature in the modern world.


Crystal Shi
Food Editor
Crystal Shi is the food editor for The Epoch Times. She is a journalist based in New York City.
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