Aman founder launches Azumi brand

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded 22 October 2020

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Japan: Adrian Zecha, founder of Aman, in partnership with Japanese hospitality group Naru Developments, have announced the first Azumi property will open in spring 2021.

Located in the Setouchi region of Japan, the debut Azumi hotel is inspired by the Japanese ryokan - a type of inn which can be traced back to as early as the eighth century. 

The ryokans are still found scattered across Japan and preserve a more traditional lifestyle. At the heart of the ryokan is a warm, sincere and personal welcome - comparable to an invitation from the aruji (head of the house). 

Azumi will take this cultural framework and infuse it in all parts of the brand: from the design, service, food and beverage, to wellness and cultural programming.

The team has spent the past four years with Shiro Miura, a Kyoto architect specialising in Japanese design and architecture, blending traditional and modern design for the brand. Shiro has also brought in artisans, artists, and gardeners. 

The brand is named after the Azumi people, one of the ancient seafaring tribes who crossed the ocean and settled in Japan. They are considered to be the originators of one of Japan’s earliest sea religions. 

Zecha commented: “I was first acquainted with ryokans when I was living in Japan back in the 1950’s as the Asia correspondent of TIME magazine. My favorite ryokan was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was owned and operated by one family and they were deeply rooted into the local community.

“The hospitality was just right,” he continued, “I was treated as something in between a guest and a dear family friend. This relationship with the family who owned the ryokan made the place an extension of my own home in Tokyo.”

Fumitomi Hayase, founder and co-CEO of Naru Developments, added: “Many hotels and restaurants in Japan focus on expressing the thin-sliced surface of the Japanese culture and history, instead of going deep into the roots of each region. As hoteliers with global experience but with Japanese roots, we are happy taking on that challenge. That is how Azumi began.” 

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