guntû is a love letter to Onomichi and the sea—a passion project created by three childhood friends to celebrate the beauty, craft and flavors of their hometown. Together the shipbuilder, creative director and mayor created Japan’s first design-forward floating hotel that’s part ryokan and part luxury yacht.
Unlike any accommodation in the world, the 19-room inn offers up to 38 guests a truly unique experience as they traverse Japan’s Seto Inland Sea through the idyllic Setouchi islands. The sea separates three of Japan’s main islands: Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū.
With a minimalist, modern approach, the interiors are simple and elegant, with 11 varieties of local wood and glass—ultimately letting the focus be the glorious sea views. Everything on the ship has been made by craftspeople from the region. The rattan stools (inspired by a vintage piece) were re-created by artisans in Hiroshima. The textiles, dyed with local indigo, are made nearby. Even the menu, with a focus on the abundant local seafood and Kobe beef, is local.
To experience guntû is to immediately surrender to the charms of the region. Named after a local blue crab, the ship travels the calm waters of the inland sea exclusively. Stunning island views and muted colors surround you, and your senses are stretched to absorb the magnitude of your surroundings both on and off the ship. Electric motors let the boat glide all but silently. Most voyages are two or three days and either head west to islands cherished for their temples and unique villages, or east to the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima. Smaller islands are easily reached by the ship’s two tenders.
When you’re not relaxing in the tub in your large room (or even larger suite), the spa and gym await. The vessel also provides ample space for sitting and watching the landscape, sipping craft cocktails or made-to-order pour-over coffee. Matcha and local sweets, also made-to-order, are offered in the salon. Like most luxury ships the food is plentiful, offered in both Japanese and Western varieties along with, perhaps, the world’s only sushi bar that never serves salmon or tuna because it isn’t local.
Traveling on guntû is a unique way to experience a beautiful part of the world, and to feel the passion of those who love it and want to share it with you. Visit guntu online to learn more.
Images courtesy of guntû