The Sankei News has an article on a Nara brewery building that has found a new life as a hotel.
The old private home previously used as a brewery was built 130 years ago in Naramachi, the old town of Nara. Remodelled into a luxury hotel called the Nipponia Hotel Nara Naramachi, it opened on 1 November 2018 and seeks to attract wealthy travellers through incorporating features of the brewery in its catering and services.
The hotel also has the draw that Nara is one of the possible origins of sake brewing, in one of its many temples.
The building belonged to the 150 year old Nara Toyosawa brewery. It was used for brewing until around 1935 (Showa 10) but the company moved their operations after the building was hit by lightning. It was then used as the head office and as a private residence, but recently fell into disuse.
Company president Takahiko Toyosawa asked himself if there was some way to make use of the property that was true to the spirit of Nara, and searched for a way to revive it while retaining its outside appearance. The Value Management company in Osaka took on the job of turning it into a hotel that communicated the history and appeal of sake.
They retained as much of the interior and current form as possible, not just beams and framework but also the sand-coated walls and stairs with built-in storage. They used local cedar and cypress to restore as many of the original features as possible. Kenji Saimoto of the Saitomo Architecture Office said they aimed to create a space that retains the characteristic traditional Nara style while also being suitable for modern living.
The water used by the kitchen is the same well water used for sake brewing. A sakekasu (sake lees) bath is also available by reservation. The food offered by the restaurant is designed with sake pairing in mind, and makes use of Nara pickles and sake lees in traditional Japanese dishes. All the sake served is from the Nara Toyosawa brewery, including first pressings of new sake not available on the open market.
The hotel is an eight minute walk from Kintetsu Nara station, and has eight guest rooms in 1,766 square meter grounds. The rooms cost from JPY 28,000 (excluding tax and service) per person for double occupancy and half board. Lunch at the restaurant starts at JPY 5,000 and dinner from JPY 10,000.