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August 31, 2023
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Property Details: Hoshino Resorts KAI Yufuin

A hot spring ryokan with sculpted landscape painted with nature’s brush
KAI Yufuin is a hot spring ryokan in Oita Prefecture of the Kyushu Islands, where the cascading rice terraces with Mount Yufu as a dramatic backdrop can be captured. The name Oita for the prefecture derives from words that mean “grand rice field” and is an area associated with rice fields and rice terraces. There are rice terraces in the Yufuin area, which is located between mountains, and there used to be rice terraces where KAI Yufuin now stands. This hot spring ryokan is nestled in a quiet location overlooking Mt. Yufu, and is located in Yufuin Onsen, which has one of the highest number of hot spring sources and spring water in Japan. Rice terraces, one of Yufuin's original landscapes, is recreated in the center of the premise and aims to become an accommodation where guests can enjoy the seasonal changes of the rice terraces. For example, the reflection of the clear blue sky on the water before planting rice, the fresh green leaves just after planting, the golden color of the ear of rice that spreads, and the rice straw in late autumn, etc. Following KAI Beppu, this ryokan built around the rice terraces was designed by Kengo Kuma. A relaxing hot spring stay can be enjoyed as one feels the charms of the area such as its rich nature and rural village landscapes.

Comment by architect Kengo Kuma, Kengo Kuma & Associates
The location of KAI Yufuin reminds me of a farming village in Yufuin, and in a sense, the site is like Yufuin’s original landscape. The main feature of this accommodation is the landscape of the beautiful rice terraces. It is designed so that this feature can be felt from anywhere onsite. Through this main feature, I think it will make one feel as if they have entered a completely different world. Since the sheer beauty of nature can be felt from the rice terraces, it is sometimes said that rice terraces is more than a Japanese garden. Seasons’ rhythm can be felt from the rice terraces, which makes people emotionally moved. By letting people feel the four seasons through the rice terraces, I believe there will be greater satisfaction than that of Japanese gardens.

KAI Local flavors – Kaiseki course to enjoy nature’s blessing from the mountains
The dinner offered at KAI is a multi-course kaiseki meal, where the essence of the local area and season is reflected in each dish. Served in a semi-private dining room, the meal makes use of nature’s blessings from the mountains such that for starters, wild boar meat and shitake mushroom pâté sandwiched in monaka wafer is served along with watercress salad with a dressing of kabosu citrus, a signature agricultural product of Oita Prefecture. For the special kaiseki course, shabu-shabu style hot pot of thinly sliced beef and different kinds of gibier (game meat) can be enjoyed. Dipping sauce for each type of meat is prepared so that different flavors can be savored.

KAI Local Flavors _Special Kaiseki Course_ - Hoshino Resorts KAI Yufuin

KAI Cultural Discovery – Amulet making: Rice Straw Twining
One way of hospitality by the KAI properties is through KAI Cultural Discovery. At KAI Yufuin, guests will make an amulet by twisting straw, which was handwork that was done during the off-season of agriculture. A string will be made by twisting the straw and the act of pressing the hands together to create this string represents the act of praying. Through this action, the creator is able to put their heart into the amulet and decorations can be placed to complete it. With the backdrop of the rice terraces, a quiet time of concentration can be spent away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  

KAI Signature Rooms
With a total of 45 guest rooms, the guest rooms are situated either in the main building or in independent suites. There are two types of suites, one of which stands quietly on the rice terrace with a luxurious structure that can make one feel as if the views of the cascading rice terraces and the expanse of the sky are available only to themselves. Lounge at the personal veranda of this suite amid the sounds of insects echoing in the silence. This will surely bring back a feeling of nostalgia at a place away from home, as the original landscapes of Yufuin spread in front. The second type of suite faces the sawtooth oaks and has a private outdoor hot spring bath. In both suite types, the tatami floors are made from rare shichitoi grass which is grown in the Kunisaki Peninsula of Oita Prefecture so from the moment of entry into the rooms, the soft, natural scent of the grass can be enjoyed. Different definitions of luxury can be enjoyed in these two villa types. 

Immerse in the original landscapes of Yufuin from the KAI Signature Rooms
KAI Signature Rooms are unique to the KAI brand, where regional culture can be appreciated from within the guest rooms. KAI Yufuin will have 6 room types, where all are signature rooms. One characteristic is the inclusion of a ceiling light that was inspired by firefly baskets, which were once used as sources of light by keeping fireflies in straw baskets. This lighting creates a unique texture and brings a soft aroma to the rooms. The lighting is designed to resemble fireflies that can only live in the clean waters of Yufuin, and the light blinks as if they are living inside a basket. Moreover, Oita Prefecture produces the largest amount of giant timber bamboo in Japan, and bamboo crafts made from these bamboo materials are famous as traditional crafts. The bamboo is used for the headboards and sofa in the rooms for guests to be in close proximity to the traditional crafts and culture of this region.

Special Features
Rice Terrace Deck
The Rice Terrace Deck with a panoramic view of rice terraces is placed in the center of the accommodation. Change in season can be felt as the rice terraces and mountain range change their appearance. Before rice planting in spring, the rice terraces are filled with water, where the clear blue sky and the surrounding landscape are reflected on its surface. After rice planting, the fresh green of young plants spreads, and in the summer, the grown rice moves with the wind, producing a refreshing tone. In autumn, the ears of rice grow in abundance, turning rice terraces into gold. The landscape of rice terraces with rice straws after harvest is a familiar scene of Yufuin in winter. When seated on the deck, the sense of time can be forgotten as one is surrounded by the original landscape of Yufuin. The vast scenery of the open sky and the rice terraces that change with the season can be enjoyed, evoking a feeling of nostalgia.

Public Hot Springs 
A relaxing time can be spent at the public hot springs, where one can appreciate the magnificent view of Mt. Yufu colored by seasonal flowers or autumn leaves. There are two indoor baths, the “Atsuyu” (hot water), which flows directly from the source, and the “Nuruyu” (warm water), which calms the mind and body with its gentle warmth. The outdoor bath has a lie-down area so a long and calming bath can be enjoyed as the seasonal wind blows through. It is a great location for Mt. Yufu, also known as “Bungo Fuji.” The admiration for the beauty and dynamism of Japan's largest mountain, Mt. Fuji, is often expressed in their name by taking on the name Fuji and in the case of Mt. Yufu, its former name, Bungo is used. Simple hot spring can be enjoyed, where the spring water is soft and rich in metasilicic acid, which is used in cosmetics as a skin conditioner. This hypoallergenic hot spring water will gently heal the mind and body.

Overview of KAI Yufuin
Address: 398 Kawakami, Yufuin-cho, Yufu, Oita
Number of Rooms: 45
Facilities: Lobby, Dining area, Travel Library, Shop, Public hot springs (separated by gender, in both areas: 2 indoor baths, 1 outdoor bath), Rice Terrace Deck, Asagiri Terrace, Yuagari Lounge 
Check-in: 3:00 pm / Check-out: 12:00 pm
Starting Room Rate: Starts from 35,000 JPY per night (per person in a 2-person room, includes tax and service charge, breakfast and dinner)
Directions: Approximately 10 minutes by car from JR Yufuin Station, approximately 60 mins by car from Oita Airport

About KAI Brand
"Japanese Auberge" in classic hot spring regions
KAI is a leading brand of hot spring ryokan where every establishment offers a contemporary take on traditional Japanese inn whilst keeping Western comforts. KAI invites one to discover the multifaceted aspects of Japan through natural hot springs, exploration of local arts and entertainment, and classic Kaiseki-style course meals using local and seasonal flavors. Experience Washoku, Japanese cuisine, presented on carefully selected ceramics for full exposure to culinary sensations.

About Hoshino Resorts
Hoshino Resorts was first established as a Japanese inn/ryokan in 1914 in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture before it began the operation of other resorts in Japan. Today, it has evolved into a highly influential hotel management company and is run by 4th-generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino. Providing a unique experience focused on the local charms of each destination and a high level of omotenashi, Japanese-style hospitality, the company has expanded rapidly out of Karuizawa since 2001 and now operates more than 60 accommodations both in and outside Japan with one of the following categories: luxury hotel brand “HOSHINOYA,” hot spring ryokan brand “KAI,” countryside resort hotel brand “RISONARE,” city tourism hotel brand “OMO,” free-spirited hotel brand “BEB,” or other unique lodgings.

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