[See also: A Luxury Travel Guide to Kyoto]
As guests arrive, the first thing they will notice is the 300-year-old Kajimiya Gate from the original Mitsui residence, which has been restored by Kyoto-based artisans. Once through the gate, the pathway leads guests into the hotel’s first garden, a lush bamboo forest that connects to the lobby. Suspended from the lobby’s ceiling is an enormous shoji lantern, and the eye is drawn from this to the lobby’s centerpiece; a large ceramic structure set in raked sand, created by Japanese artist Yukiya Izumita.
In the guest rooms, Fu has continued to juxtapose tradition and contemporary design by creating Japanese teahouse interiors with a twist. Crafted interlocking joinery and modest custom furniture have been made with natural materials including walnut, tatami and kimono fabrics to create a calm, sophisticated feeling. The Mitsui also features two unique Onsen Suites, which have been entirely lined with local cherry wood and feature outdoor hot-spring experiences.
At the heart of the new hotel is a landscaped Japanese garden, which features carefully placed stone lanterns and decorative rock features. For The Mitsui’s main garden, Fu worked with Kyoto landscape master Shunsaku Miyagi; it has been designed to reflect the seasons and to evoke a sense of peace and closeness to nature with its soft breezes, and the sounds of water and chirping insects.