Sometimes the most memorable and exciting part of travel is the actual getting there and this is partly true for Koyasan, a remote, mountain top village north of the Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. First you must travel by train as it winds its way through a series of tight valleys and soaring mountains, with the final leg transporting you to a dizzying near-vertical cable-car ride up to the village. Then, after this spectacular journey, the array of unique lodgings to choose from, including the recently opened Koyasan Guest House, make for an equally memorable experience.
Koyasan is a thriving centre for Japanese Buddhism and being the headquarters for the Shingon School of Buddhism it is naturally a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The Koyasan Guest House is the creation of Kyoto-based architects Kentaro Takeguchi and Asako Yamamoto of Alphaville Architects and offers two accommodation options for travellers. Here you can choose to stay in either a traditional bedroom or the capsule-style dormitory rooms built above and below one-another and line a communal hallway. Each capsule has an Alice in Wonderland style doorway that faces outward to the hall resembling a real-life advent calendar of sorts – and a genius space-saving sleeping arrangement we think.
An exposed timber colonnade, conjoined by the central hallway, segments the different areas of the guesthouse. The white timber framing continues along the roof resembling a traditional Japanese style ceiling of trussed rafters while natural light floods the length of the hall with a series of skylights. After dining at the bar and kicking back in the cosy common room and sitting areas you are bound to make friends with your slumbering neighbours before you hit the sack – until they start to snore.
PHOTOGRAPHER | Toshiyuki Yano