Aman unveils third Japan outpost in Kyoto

Old sculptures on the once-forgotten garden

Aman Kyoto will open in a once-forgotten garden at the foot of the Mountain of Hidari Daimonji in Kyoto’s north come November 1, giving the brand its third resort in Japan.

Nestled in forested grounds in the district of Takagamine, the resort is within walking distance of the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-ji Temple.

The 32.3ha Aman Kyoto site comprises 29ha of permanent forest and 3.2ha of gardens tended over decades by the previous owner of the site, a respected collector of the obi (the ornamental sash for a traditional Japanese kimono) with an unrealised plan to house his collection in a museum to be built within the garden.

As the garden’s next custodian, Aman intends to bring a resort that draws on the country’s ryokan (traditional inn) and onsen (hot spring) concepts, while protecting the grounds for decades to come.

The garden sits within a valley, enclosed on one side by a small stream, and on another by a wooded hill. Platforms originally intended as locations for the buildings of the museum now provide the foundations for the resort pavilions.

Aman Kyoto includes separate Arrival, Living, Dining and Spa Pavilions, four Guest Pavilions housing 24 guest rooms with garden or stream views, and two separate Pavilions overlooking the forest canopy housing a pair of two-bedroom villas.

Each of Aman Kyoto’s 24 guest rooms and two villas is a contemporary reimagining of the traditional ryokan. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows framing the natural surroundings, tatami mats and tokonoma (alcoves where items for artistic appreciation are presented).

Aman Kyoto’s signature restaurant in the Dining Pavilion will showcase Japanese haute cuisine, with multicourse dining experiences that make use of the local produce.

The Living Pavilion will offer a convivial space with a central fireplace and glass doors opening onto the zen (ornate stone garden).

Home-cooked Kyoto obanzai-style cuisine will be served throughout the day, and guests can also enjoy afternoon tea and reserve bamboo picnic hampers to be enjoyed al-fresco in the garden or forest glades. The garden itself is ideal for outdoor events, from small private dinners and functions, to weddings, yoga and mindfulness sessions.

The traditional onsen bathing facilities will use the water from a local spring, to deliver relaxation and healing, while a range of treatments tap into Japan’s plentiful natural apothecary – including Kyoto green tea, tanba kuromame (black beans), local saké, and cold-pressed tsubaki (camellia) oil.

Vladislav Doronin, chairman and CEO of Aman, said the Kyoto resort will add another facet to the brand’s journey in Japan, onward from Aman Tokyo and Amanemu in Ise-Shima National Park.

Aman Kyoto is owned by Kyoto Resorts, a subsidiary of the Chartered Group, which has been the driving force behind this project. Eyal Agmoni, chairman of the Chartered Group, said: ‘This garden sanctuary has been over two decades in the making so we can open its doors as an Aman. I am especially grateful to the late Kerry Hill and his team who created an architectural language that not only respects traditional Japanese design, but also celebrates, protects and brings back to life the unique gardens in which Aman Kyoto is housed.”

Chartered Group’s strategic alliance with Aman will also include the introduction of Residences at Aman Kyoto (2020).

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