by Venus Wong, The Telegraph, July 31, 2019
Tokyo is a city that’s equally grounded in the past as it is the future – and that’s fully reflected in Trunk(House), the newest arrival to the city's hotel scene. The hotel is converted from a former geisha training house and will feature one room only. It has a custom art collection inspired by the city and a private karaoke room, dubbed 'the smallest disco in Japan'. It’s a quirky alternative to its more design-led sister, Trunk(Hotel) in Shibuya.
This new concept is squarely aimed at "seasoned travellers who appreciate culture and luxury", says Yoshitaka Nojiri, founder and CEO of the Trunk hotel brand. The aim is to create the modern day 'salon' – the popular cultural gathering place for writers and philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries – with a garden, tea room and a private chef on hand to whip up traditional Japanese cuisine. Take a look inside as we lift the curtain on this unique new proposition...
Trunk(House) is located in the Tokyo neighbourhood of Kagurazaka, also known as 'Little Kyoto', an area known for its traditional architecture and geisha entertainment. The hotel has been transformed from a 70-year-old training house for geishas, which was at one point also a ryotei – an upscale dining establishment where geishas are on call to perform for patrons. According to Nojiri, the cross beams and windows were preserved from the original structure. You may also find an antique lampshade in the entrance from the building’s past life.
The Design Concept
The majority of the furniture and artwork you see inside the house are custom made, overseen by Trunk’s in-house design team and Tripster, a Tokyo-based interior design studio. A group of international artists have been commissioned to create unique pieces that reflect the hotel’s 'Tokyo-ness'. Thoughtful details abound: the bedroom artwork, created by American artist Alex Dodge, is inspired by geishas; the ceramic bowls and utensils represent contemporary artist Tom Sachs’ take on the traditional tea ceremony; the ukiyo-e (a popular style of woodblock art from the 17th century) bathroom paintings are by Japanese artist Masumi Ishikawa. Homegrown ingredients and techniques, such as washi paper and indigo dyeing, are also incorporated in the room designs.
It couldn’t be more different from your average luxury chain hotel, to say the least. The hotel positions itself as a hub for sophisticated travellers and aims to provide a base for the most authentic Tokyo experiences. This, of course, means karaoke is involved. A small disco room is created in the former ryotei part of the house, with a high-tech karaoke machine and soundproofing. For winding down from all the singing and dancing, there’s a compact, indoor garden designed by Oryza, a leading Japanese landscaping firm. More moments of leisure can be enjoyed at the hotel’s tearoom, which comes with tatami floors and an irori (a sunken hearth fireplace) traditionally used for heating and cooking.
Mornings at Trunk(House) start with a hearty Japanese breakfast – a spread of rice, miso soup, and different side dishes. Private dinners can be arranged, using seasonal ingredients; and a private butler is also available to dish up snacks and lighter meals, such as ramen and Japanese curry.
Trunk(House) is open from August 1. Rates from ¥500,000 (£3,600) per night for double occupancy, for exclusive hire of the whole space. Breakfast included. The property can accommodate up to four persons as part of one group.