Work is well underway on the conversion of a historic and traditional residence in Gifu into a boutique hotel. The former Matsuhisa Residence was built 100 years ago by the operator of a successful wholesaler of Japanese paper materials. The residence was designed to accommodate guests and customers during the Meiji and Taisho eras. The two-story sukiya-style wooden house with tiled roof has a total of 12 tatami rooms, a tea room, and four warehouses. The buildings sit on 2400 sqm of land.
In 2016 the grandchild of the original owner donated the property to Mino City. The city held a public appeal seeking any individuals or organizations that would be able to transform the property into a tourist destination. In late 2017 the city settled on a hotel proposal submitted by a joint venture between Marujyu Paper Company, based in Mino City, and hotel operator NOTE, based in Hyogo Prefecture. NOTE was established in 2009 with the purpose of reinvigorating rural areas through the restoration and preservation of old and vacant homes, helping to promote tourism and supporting local businesses. In 2015 they established the NIPPONIA brand of boutique hotels, focusing solely on creating unique accommodation in traditional and historic Japanese homes and buildings.
The hotel conversion will include six guest suites, some fitted with outdoor rotenburo baths. Exteriors, interiors and furnishings will be largely preserved, while traditional paper and paper-making equipment will be featured.
Room rates are expected to be approximately 35,000 Yen (approx. 310 USD) per night.
The property will be provided free-of-charge for 10 years to the operator. In return, the operator will spend approximately 145 million Yen (approx. 1.3 million USD) on the restoration work, with some financial assistance to be provided by the national government. Hotel operating ratios in the first year of operations are forecast to be 30%, with a goal of exceeding 40% in the years to follow. Ryokan-type hotels in Gifu Prefecture have an average operating ratio of around 38%.
Restoration work is expected to be completed this month with the hotel to open in June 2019.
It is located alongside the Udatsu-lined Old Street – a traditional building preservation district. Udatsu is the name of the firewall built at both ends of a roof between merchant houses. Mino City is famous for the production of the Mino washi type of Japanese paper, which has been made in this district since at least the 8th century.
The Gifu Shimbun, December 16, 2018.
Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture, April 24, 2018 (Detailed photos of the house can be found here: https://www.forest.ac.jp/academy-archives/omhh_s/)