Furniture company Nitori Holdings is entering the boutique hotel industry with the acquisition of a historic hot spring hotel in Hokkaido’s port city of Otaru. The sale price has not been disclosed.
Ginrinsou has long been considered one of Hokkaido’s leading onsen inns. The three-story ryokan sits on a prominent hilltop location overlooking Otaru’s port district and Ishikari Bay. An additional five-story concrete building was added to the ryokan at a cost of 400 million Yen, bringing the total floor space up to 3000 sqm. Nightly room rates at the 14-room ryokan are around 37,000 Yen per person.
The ryokan was built in 1900 in neighboring Yoichi town as a ‘Herring Mansion’ (Nishin-Goten) for the Inomata family. These large Herring Mansions were built by wealthy fishermen not only as their residence but also to process fish. Local materials such as chestnut, ash, Sakhalin fir and castor were used, with construction spanning three years. In 1938, town planning saw the house relocated to its current location where it opened up as a ryokan the following year. In 1944 it was briefly confiscated by the Imperial Japanese Army and used as an anti-aircraft weapon camp.
Nitori is considering opening up the ryokan’s hot spring baths to day-trip visitors, expanding the services on offer.
In 2016, Nitori opened the Otaru Art Base – a group of four historic warehouses alongside Otaru canal. The art space is open to the public. Nitori also owns historic residences in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Ginrinsou Homepage (www.ginrinsou.com/)
The Hokkaido Shimbun, August 14, 2018.