A Kyoto-based asset management and real estate company acquired a historic ryotei-style restaurant in the city’s Higashiyama district in July.
This was the former Awata Villa. It had been operated until June as the Kyoto Hotel Okura Villa Awata Sanso Restaurant. The hotel announced its plans to sell the property in February 2021 as a measure to raise necessary funds amidst the ongoing pandemic. The original plan was for the hotel to continue leasing the property for two years after the sale, but in March the hotel reported that the restaurant would close its doors in June.
In 1976 it opened as the hotel’s restaurant, catering to domestic and international guests. Since the pandemic, the restaurant had been operating at a loss. The hotel reported a 1.5 billion Yen loss between April and December of 2020, after posting a 200 million Yen profit the year before.
The Sukiya-style building was built in 1937 as a holiday villa for a wealthy textile manufacturer from Kyoto’s Nishijin district. The 1,500 sqm of land includes 890 sqm of a beautifully landscaped Kaiyu-style strolling garden.
The sale price was not announced, but the hotel was expecting to post a gain of 431 million Yen (approx. US$3.93 million) on its disposal. Depending on size, location, and pedigree, historic villas in Kyoto can typically go for anywhere between 1 ~ 2 billion Yen (US$9 ~ 18 million), although some may sell outside this range.
The pandemic has seen some landmark historic properties change hands over the past year and a half. Properties that would never have been made for sale otherwise are being grabbed by savvy buyers, but not at bargain prices. Rather, the situation has allowed investors to acquire properties that would not normally be on the market.
In March 2021, one of Japan’s leading hospitality companies sold its treasured 111-year old Taiko-en estate in Osaka City for 39 billion Yen (approx. US$368 million at the time). The traditional house sat on 26,000 sqm of landscaped gardens and had been operated as a wedding and restaurant facility.
In August 2021, IHG signed on to open a Regent Hotel in the 100-year old grounds of a traditional estate in Okazaki, just north of Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto. The 86-room hotel will open in 2024. The property housed the famous restaurant Tsuruya, which temporarily closed in April 2021.
The Nikkei Shimbun, February 9, 2021.
Kyoto Hotel Okura News Release, March 31, 2021.
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