Stay at Maana Homes - Kyoto Japan

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In Kyoto, Maana Homes is comfort and elegance that feels right at home in the city. Founded by Hana Tsukamoto, a New York-based creative director, and Irene Chang, a hospitality designer based in LA, it began as a wine-and-scribbles idea in Spain. Hana and Irene sought to introduce both comfort and inspiration into hospitality with the use of design and location. The result is Maana Homes: an inviting space located in the residential Tambaguchi neighbourhood, renovated from a 100-year-old townhouse.

Casper & Casper are passionate about these inspiring features of design and accessibility in the world of architecture. We love their ability to incorporate these aspects while preserving the original Japanese spirit within the infrastructure. Recently, we were given the chance to speak with the founders while I stayed at the Maana Home in Kyoto to experience it for myself.  

The Maana Experience

It was clear from the beginning that their passion seeps into the foundations of the hotel. 

As a guest, the entire home is your personal, private accommodation. The check-in experience was smooth, consisting of a warm welcome from the home's caretaker - then it was ours to enjoy. The caretaker, who lives locally, was on call should we need any help during the stay, with assistance available at all hours. Over the two nights, however, the only help we needed was where in Kyoto we should go. Our caretaker was quick to give us personalised recommendations on nearby points of interest, so even sight-seeing was easy.

While slightly removed from the bustling city centre, the home is perfectly situated amongst retail and recreational spaces. In addition to visiting the local restaurants, guests can create their own meals with super fresh ingredients from the local supermarket and, after a long day, can choose to relax at home in a deep, ceramic stone tub. With the prime location of the hotel, exploring Kyoto was effortless. 

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1.      You aimed to create a space of luxurious tranquillity through the contemporary yet authentic renovation of Maana House, allowing the guests to feel the vibe of the city and feel at home at the same time. What inspired you to come up with this concept? 

As our society becomes increasingly curated and efficient, we feel it is important to create projects with an emphasis on the human connection. That was the motivation behind the creation of Maana Homes. Traveling is an opportunity to explore the world as well as the world within ourselves.

Each of our homes is inspired by a philosophy we hope guests will experience and take away with them. There isn’t a more intimate environment than a home to immerse in a deeply connected and personal human experience.

2.     From a design aesthetic, can you tell us why you chose the Maana building and location? 

We wanted to find a location that is a bit away from the tourist area but still easily accessible to the city, with some real local flavour as you walk around the streets. For example, being near Kyoto's Central Wholesale Market, Japan's first wholesale market built in 1927,  you can see the buzzing local activity early in the morning and shops around it. Within couple of blocks from the market is a former geisha district known as Shimabara, where you can still see the original streets and structures like Sumiya, the last surviving example of ageya architecture. The area is also becoming a hub of startups and newer developments so naturally there are many restaurants and shops around it. There is so much history and yet very much a local vibe, an interesting contrast. We just loved walking around this neighbourhood discovering tons of small temples, gardens, local markets, bath houses, and the like.

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The Maana Design

The hotel itself is a touch of the minimalist, traditional craftsmanship and modern Japanese design in an expanding city. 

Delicate dry branches of nature intertwined with the smooth wood finishes of the home touch the interior and exterior. It does not lose the spirit of its origins as a machiya townhouse, which was popular for its function as both a residence and a workplace for the growing merchant class. Tsukamoto and Chang pay close attention to the rich building tradition associated with these townhouses. Kyoto architect Shigenori Uoya, a bathtub crafted by local ceramic artisans in Shiragaki, and a 9000-year-old lacquering technique called Fuki-urushi for the custom kitchen island are one of the few ways Maana Homes ensures that it does not lose its connection to its roots.

Despite its minimalist aesthetic, the home also holds many little secrets and details; the Fuji Mountain carved on the wood of a sliding door; a hidden bird cage; and hand-made pottery for plants and cups. The décor is infused with all the comforts of modernity to suit the times, too, such as heated flooring, comfortably bedding and a well-equipped kitchen. Google Home that is readily available with traditional yukatas.

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3.     The renovation is very modern while maintaining traditional Japanese architecture. How important was it to use local tradesmen to capture the essence of the original establishment?

The philosophy behind our first home is ‘Simple yet meaningful life’ that is very much inspired by Kyoto, a belief you can consistently notice throughout every fiber of this city. 

In Japan, local tradesmen have an unmatched dedication to the quality of their craft. We are blessed to be working in culture that is driven so much by quality and service and not numbers. As most of these tradesmen work by local referrals and don’t market themselves, finding the right people was the hardest part. We encouraged modern adaptations to traditional techniques and let the artists express themselves through their work. For those of the readers who are interested in learning more about our process of the renovation, you can read about it on our site.

4.     Maana inspires a journey of the senses for your guests. What are some aspects or features of Maana House you would recommend to new guests of the house, and why? 

We have incorporated features to accommodate today’s modern lifestyle in this traditional home. Our open lacquered kitchen island is an atypical feature in a traditional Japanese home, and it is a great space to hang out with the family and experience a simple and meaningful lifestyle. We always recommend guests to explore local markets, start your day with your cup of morning coffee in the garden, have breakfast at our kitchen after a warm bath in a hand crafted ceramic tub while listening to some music on our Google Home. We encourage our guests to slow down, be mindful and enjoy the moment.

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The Maana Style

‘Simple but meaningful’ ultimately rules the Maana Style. From Spanish nights to Maana Homes, the beautiful and unique home departs from the usual concept of a hotel. Its comfortable and cosy interior sets itself apart from typical high-rises in the middle of sprawling cities, evoking a sense of warm hospitality that pays homage to its architectural heritage. Convention and progression intersect in the streets of Kyoto, welcoming visitors with a genkan entrance and sakura and maple trees in the garden.

5.     Are there plans for Maana House 2.0 elsewhere? 

Yes, our second home will be opening in November 2019, and our third project will be opening early 2021.

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The unique Maana style, form and approach offers an intimate experience of the city. A single stay conveys the spirit of a lifetime. From its beginnings in Kyoto, Casper & Casper believe that Maana Homes will continue to expand and develop towards the future while preserving the beauty of the past.

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Feature by Daniel Leyton – Click here for more articles
Copyright © of Casper & Casper 20.07.2019

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