The 109-year old former Nara Juvenile Prison in Nara City will be converted into a hotel by 2020. On May 26, Japan’s Ministry of Justice announced that a group of 8 companies, led by Solare Hotels and Resorts, was the successful bidder for the project.  A total of 3 groups submitted bids back in January.

The prison was built in 1908 and is the only surviving example of the Five Prisons of the Meiji era. The red brick prison was designed by architect Keijiro Yamashita. Yamashita worked for the Ministry of Justice from 1897 to 1930, and designed many prisons across the country.

The prison closed in 2016 due to concerns about earthquake resistance.

The consortium of companies, which includes construction giant Shimizu Corporation, will carry out extensive repairs and conversion works to the buildings, while maintaining much of the historic elements. Buildings will be earthquake retrofitted.

The former cellblock building will be converted into a 150 room hotel, while the single jail cells will be combined into larger suites.  Room rates are expected to be around 12,000 ~ 20,000 Yen per night. The hospital building will be converted into a Muji-branded hostel providing cheaper accommodation. New buildings, including a 80 room hotel, restaurant and hot bath facilities will be built within the 100,000 square meter grounds. The total project cost is estimated at 15 billion Yen (approximately 135 million USD).

Solare currently operates a number of business hotels across Japan, many under the Chisun brand.


Hannyajicho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture

The Asahi Shimbun, May 26, 2017.
The Sankei Shimbun, May 26, 2017.
The Nikkei Shimbun, May 26, 2017.