Photo/IllutrationA guest room of Shiomachi Hotel Roya (Hidenori Sato)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

FUKUYAMA, Hiroshima Prefecture--Lodging facilities remodeled from old buildings have opened in the picturesque Tomonoura bay area here that boasts a historic landscape.

While the Tomocho district is home to many old houses and traditional “machiya” townhouses, some of the buildings have been vacant.

Similar projects are expected to follow to rejuvenate the neighborhood.

Locally based Tomo Skole Group, which operates Hotel Ofutei and other facilities in Tomocho, opened the Shiomachi Hotel Roya on Aug. 8. The inn was remodeled from an old merchant’s house built at least 100 years ago in the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

It is said that the structure had previously been used to produce oars for Japanese traditional wooden boats and other implements. The company spent about 80 million yen ($741,120) for remodeling work on the building. It is located in an area designated in 2017 as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings by the central government.

The hotel has four guest rooms spread out over the main structure, which is a two-story wooden building, and a guest house. Roya is targeted at high-end travelers, with rates ranging from about 30,000 yen to 70,000 yen per room with no meals.

The Tomo Skole Group intends to renovate old houses and several machiya buildings around the area in a similar effort to operate the facilities as a “scattered hotel of old houses.”

“We aim to build a lodging facility that blends into the culture and community and where visitors can feel the originality of the local area,” a representative said.

Meanwhile, Sowaka-rou is an accommodation facility standing on high ground with a panoramic view of the ocean. It was originally built in the Meiji Era and subsequently used by a merchant as a villa in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). The structure retains its original appearance even after it underwent modifications. The facility opened in April.

The entire building is used for lodging, limited to one group of guests per day.

Rates start at 50,000 yen, excluding tax, for two people with no meals.

Sowaka-rou is managed by a limited liability company called Tomo Machizukuri Gaisha, which is based in Tomocho.

“We want it to be a place where visitors spend time as they experience life in Tomo,” said Daisuke Matsui, 33, who works for the company. “There is an increasing number of vacant houses around here. We hope more people will move in after their lodging experience.”