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Wake up to a scenic mountain hot spring and relax in a traditional Hida-designed inn.


Wake up to a scenic mountain hot spring and relax in a traditional Hida-designed inn.

Category: Asia Pacific - Japan - Industry economy - Hotel opening
This is a press release selected by our editorial committee and published online for free on 2024-04-23

KAi Okuhida - Room

KAi Okuhida - Room
Photo credit © Hoshino Resorts

"KAI," a hot spring ryokan brand developed nationwide by Hoshino Resorts, will open a new resort, "KAI Okuhida" in Okuhida-Onsengo (Gifu Prefecture), on September 5, 2024.

KAI Okuhida is the 24th property of the KAI brand and Hoshino Resorts’ first venture in Gifu Prefecture. The concept is “Wake up to a scenic mountain hot spring and relax in a traditional Hida-designed inn."

KAI Okuhida will bring out the best of a mountain hot spring experience while promoting activities and designs that are unique to the regional culture and the stunning skills of local Hida craftsmen.

Okuhida-Onsengo is surrounded by famous peaks of the Northern Alps and has one of the largest water volumes and number of hot springs in Japan.

With an altitude of about 1200 m (*1), it is a scenic spot in the heart of the mountains where one can clearly feel the changes of season, unlike in the plains, with striking color changes and temperature differences. Okuhida-Onsengo is also a base for some of Japan's most famous mountain sightseeing spots, Kamikochi, Norikura, and Shinhotaka, to name but a few.

While being a high-potential resort with many appealing points that hot spring aficionados have long appreciated, it is a rather underrated low-key spot, especially for the younger generation (*2).

With its concept, KAI Okuhida offers a chance to discover the scenic beauty of Okuhida mountain hot springs and a privileged time experiencing the culture of the Hida region by interweaving modern structures with exceptional local craftsmen’s work. The inn also provides walkways to the foot baths in the courtyard, the alley spaces, the street spaces and annexes, and the structure flow lines allow guests to truly feel the atmosphere of a hot spring village.

KAI Okuhida’s Special Features

1.KAI Signature Rooms: Feel the calming power of natural wood

KAI Signature Rooms feature contemporary decorations produced with local craft traditions for an immersive regional cultural stay. The gentleness of natural wood inspired the design of the KAI Signature Room. When entering the guest room, the first thing that catches one’s eye is the modern headboard covering the bed.

Its unique shape was inspired by the graceful undulation of “mageki,” Hida's renowned wood bending technique. Rooms also offer spectacular views of the Hida Mountains beyond their windows and terraces, with seasonal sceneries of fresh green vegetation, autumn foliage, and white snow from up close.

All 49 guest rooms are designed as KAI Signature Rooms, 28 of which have outdoor hot spring baths on their terraces to enjoy the mountain view while bathing in the hot springs.

Hida-shunkei lacquerware Wall Art

“Hida-shunkei” is a lacquerware from Takayama City (Gifu Prefecture) that has been handed down since the Edo period.

This distinctive lacquerware does not use classic black or red colored lacquer, nor is it decorated with shiny gold using “maki-e” or “chinkin” (*3) technique. It has a simple finish that brings out the grain of the wood and the technique used in creating its unique texture is called “Suki-urushi” (literally rub-in lacquer) and consists of rubbing in repeatedly raw lacquer (*4) by applying it in thin layers into the wood. It is finished with a layer of translucent “Suki-urushi” lacquer (*5), and the process brings out the beauty of the natural pattern of the wood.

At KAI Okuhida, all rooms are decorated by an original “Hida-shunkei” lacquerware wall art to bring a special touch. The deep reddish-brown paint emphasizes the natural grain of hinoki (Japanese cypress) used in this artwork. We hope that by having these artworks in the guest rooms, we can help bring to light this unique craft technique that shows the natural beauty of the wood.
  • *3 “Maki-e” is the technique of creating pictures by sprinkling gold and silver powder on top of patterns drawn in lacquer. “Chinkin (“sunken gold”) is a different technique in which a chisel or knife is used to incise lines and dots into a lacquered surface. Gold leaf or fine gold powder is then inlaid, creating the design.
  • *4 Raw lacquer (“ki-urushi”) is a direct product from the sap of the lacquer tree and the base ingredient for all lacquer products.
  • *5. Clear candy-colored lacquer is made by removing water content from the raw lacquer.

“Hida-zome” cushion

“Hida-zome” or Hida Dyeing is a traditional dyeing technique that uses bright colors, which has been essential in Takayama for making festival costumes in spring and autumn. Hida-zome Yuhara Senko, a dye shop in Takayama for over 150 years, has continuously worked on festival costumes in Takayama City.

The shop's fifth-generation owner, Yuhara Masaki, was commissioned by KAI Okuhida to create Hida-zome original cushions for guest rooms’ sofas. The pattern depicts a dragon, a pattern often traditionally used for Hida-zome. The design is inlaid with a special technique: the outlines of the drawing are first marked by applying glue made of glutinous rice to the cloth, and then colors are applied one brushstroke at a time.

Hida Industry: Furniture featuring “mageki” wood-bending technique

Hida Sangyo is a local furniture manufacturer that has received much attention from overseas, starting with wood furniture. The “mageki” technique involves bending the wood by steaming it at a high temperature and letting the softened wood follow the shape of the mold.

Depending on the material, the amount of bending force and speed vary, and a considerable amount of experience and skills is required to bend it in an aesthetic way. At KAI Okuhida, all the guest rooms are lined with chairs from Hida Sangyo, which are covered with curved wood. All wood used, including chestnut and oak trees, is native to the Hida region. The material is soft to the touch and comfortable and is a true gift from Hida’s forests and craftsmen.

2. Enjoy Hida Beef for Dinner with our Special Kaiseki course

For dinner, KAI Okuhida will serve Kaiseki style cuisine incorporating local food culture and flavors, in a semi-private style dining area.

For the Special Kaiseki course's main menu, Hida Beef grilled on magnolia leaves, a classic of Hida region, will be served with a slight twist. Instead of serving the beef with only the magnolia leaves, the Hida beef will be served inside a “tsuto” wrapper made of straw (*6).

The surface of the meat will be slightly cooked in advance, then guests can finish grilling it to their liking before eating it. After enjoying the meat as it is, guests are welcome to try it with different condiments such as salt, wasabi, soy sauce, or Japanese pepper for more variety.

To create a more warm and authentic atmosphere, the serving tables are made of old wood reminiscent of the wooden edges of an “irori” fireplace, one of the local characteristics of Okuhida traditional houses.
  • *6 In Japanese, “tsuto” is a sort of wrapper or bract that can be made with reeds, bamboo skins, straw, etc., and those are bundled or woven together to wrap and carry food.

What is Hida beef

Hida beef is the icon gourmet food of Gifu and one of the leading brands of wagyu in Japan. It is well known for its soft meat and high-quality fat.

3. A unique outdoor architecture planning to enjoy the change of sceneries

KAI Okuhida comprises two accommodation buildings, a bathhouse, and an annex building.

Those four buildings are connected by a courtyard, a crossroad, and an alley space. The hot spring has a strong flow with 440 liters of hot water per minute and a high temperature, advantageous features we make use of in public and private baths.

Guests can also enjoy a hot foot bath. Steaming hot water paths are installed on the terrace and courtyard for the guests to enjoy the mountain air while wearing “Geta” Japanese sandals. At night, dim lanterns light up the alley space.

This outdoor space allows to truly feel and experience the change of seasons away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We hope that through the inn design, guests will discover the charm of a hot spring village in the heart of mountains, in a ryokan full of hidden surprises.

Profile: Sakakura Building Research Institute in charge of architectural design

“Architects should deeply value people above all. In architecture, the most important element is the lively appearance or ‘strength’ of the building after its completion. (Junzo SAKAKURA).” We carry out the inheritance from our founder, Junzo Sakakura, with consistency in our designs in order to create outstanding spaces. We aim to create timeless values through varying scales of the design.


"Besides its great outdoors, the Okuhida region is home to culture and technology. We scattered motifs, materials, and colors that most marked us. We hope you will enjoy your special time here not only through the rich hot spring, but also through the characteristic lodging experience of going back and forth between the lodging buildings, the bathhouse and the detached building connected by the courtyard and alley space."

Profile: Kanade Design Office, Landscape Design

We are a design office that designs landscapes. We work to create landscapes after much discussion by analyzing and understanding the value of places, such as the target site and surrounding environment.


"The alleys connect the three sites in the center of the historic hot spring town in the mountains. We tried to create a sense of unity, like in a small city with stones, wooden fences, and greenery connecting the space. At the crossroads of the alleys, the view expands and leads to the courtyard. From the courtyard, one can see a small path where the hot spring flows, a bathhouse with stones and wooden walls, and the Hida mountains in the distance. We would like guests to stroll and enjoy the scenery of such a unique hot spring area."

KAI Okuhida - Overview

  • Address: 138 Hirayu, Okuhida-Onsengo, Takayama City,Gifu
  • Number of guest room rooms: 49 (28 guest room rooms with outdoor hot spring)
  • Guest rooms breakdown: 2 suite rooms (capacity 2 pers.), 26 Western style rooms with outdoor hot spring (capacity 3 pers), 19 Japanese style rooms (capacity 1 ~ 4 pers), 2 dog rooms (capacity 3 pers)
  • Price: From 31,000 JPY per night (per person in a 2-person stay, includes tax and service charge, breakfast and dinner)
  • Facilities: Front desk, Shop, Annexes (Travel Library, foot bath), Dining area, Public bath (1 each for men and women in outdoor hot spring, 1 each for indoor bath), Yuagari Lounge, Yuagari Terrace, Courtyard
  • Access: 4-minute walk from Hirayu Bus Terminal, 3-minute drive from Chubu Jukan Expressway Hirayu IC
  • URL:
  • Reservation starts on April 17, 2024.
  • Official opening date: September 5, 2024

Project Overview

  • Building area: 1,680 m²(Total value of 4 buildings consisting of 2 accommodation buildings, a bathhouse and a detached building)
  • Total floor area: 5,588 m² (Same as above)
  • Site area: 6,472 m² (Total of all planned sites)
  • Architectural Design: Sakakura Building Research Institute
  • Landscape Design: Kanade Design Office
  • Construction: Maeda Construction Industry

About KAI

KAI is a leading brand of hot spring ryokan where every establishment offers a contemporary take on traditional Japanese inn whilst keeping Western comforts. KAI invites one to discover the multifaceted aspects of Japan through natural hot springs, exploration of local arts and entertainment, and classic Kaiseki-style course meals using local and seasonal flavors. In April 2024, KAI Akiu will open in Akiu Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture, and KAI Okuhida will open in Okuhida Onsengo in autumn.

About Hoshino Resorts

Hoshino Resorts was first established as a Japanese inn/ryokan in 1914 in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture before it began the operation of other resorts in Japan. Today, it has evolved into a highly influential hotel management company and is run by 4th-generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino. Providing a unique experience focused on the local charms of each destination and a high level of omotenashi, Japanese-style hospitality, the company has expanded rapidly out of Karuizawa since 2001 and now operates more than 60 accommodations both in and outside Japan with one of the following categories: luxury hotel brand “HOSHINOYA,” hot spring ryokan brand “KAI,” countryside resort hotel brand “RISONARE,” city tourism hotel brand “OMO,” free-spirited hotel brand “BEB,” or other unique lodgings.

KAI Okuhida - KAI Signature Rooms

KAI Okuhida - KAI Signature Rooms
Photo credit © Hoshino Resorts

KAI Okuhida - Hida-zome original cushions
Photo credit © Hoshino Resorts

KAI Okuhida - Special Kaiseki course
Photo credit © Hoshino Resorts

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