At Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, 2014 marks the 120th anniversary of the spa’s main building which stands as a notable landmark of the area. It’s a majestic and traditional building that some say was the inspiration for the bathhouse in Spirited Away.
To celebrate, the surrounding area will be hosting a large scale art exhibition in which the Onsen’s main building and at least ten other hotels and inns will be transformed into works by various modern artists. The actual event will run from 10 April to 31 December of this year, but a sneak peak was held from December of last year involving five prominent Japanese artists: Fujio Ishimoto, Yayoi Kusama, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Akira Minagawa, and Araki Nobuyoshi.
Fujio Ishimoto & Chaharu
[Suuri Taiga / Okusabara]
Ishimoto uses his experience as a designer for the Finland-based Marimekko fashion and furnishing brand to bring a western touch to a more traditional Japanese-style inn, Chaharu. Simple colors and flowers, a staple of Marimekko style add to the room without overpowering the charm already there.
Yayoi Kusama & Takaraso Hotel
[Waga Tamashi no Kioku. Soshite Samazamana Kofuku wo Motomete]
A leading pop artist of the ’60s and continuing to create to this day, Kusama completely recreates a room of the Takaraso Hotel situated in the heart of the Dogo Onsen region. Stark contrasts and flurries of polka-dots make you feel like you’re spending the night in another world – Yayoi Kusama’s world.
Tanikawa Shuntaro & Dogo-kan
[Hana no Ie]
The art of literature is also represented at this event with the contributions of arguably Japan’s most respected writer, poet, and translator, Shuntaro Tanikawa. Checking into this room at Dogo-inn will reveal messages from Shuntaro around every corner. The concept for this room was an organized yet relaxing place to work and find inspiration.
Nobuyoshi Araki & Hotel Kowakuen
Prolific photographer Araki has taken time out of his busy schedule photographing the likes of Lady Gaga and Bjork to inject some flare to a peaceful room of the Hotel Kowakuen. An artist who’s not afraid to turn off his fans by trying risqué new works, Araki brings a little of that attitude to the four panel sliding door divider of the room. Titled “Bondage,” it depicts four women in kimono and bondage.
Akira Minagawa & Hotel Hanayuzuki
Minagawa and his own design studio, minä perhonen have excelled in simple textiles and subtle changes in color and form to give a strong but mellow impression. He has provided uniforms for various organizations in Japan such as the Tokyo Sky Tree and Aomori Museum of Art. This simplicity can be easily seen in a spacious room of the Hotel Hanayuzuki.
Keep in mind that these are just a sample of what is to come later this year. This particular collection of inn and hotel rooms is called Hotel Horizontal, but it’s actually just a fraction of the entire Dogo Onsen Art exhibition starting this spring.
For more information about these rooms such as prices, times, and locations please check out the links listed at the end of the article. Also to keep an eye on future rooms, check out the Hotel Horizontal website also listed at the end. Also, it isn’t necessary to actually book these rooms if you want to only see them as area tours are also available. If you or someone you know is a fan of any branch of Japanese art, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation spot in 2014.
▼ The Dogo Onsen main building
Image: Wikipedia (Arnaud Malon)
[ Read in Japanese ]