Naoshima Ryokan ROKA


Newly opened on Naoshima island in Kagawa Prefecture in April 2022, Roka is the grand vision of Shintaro Sasaki, a fourth-generation hotelier whose family founded the elegant Kifu no Sato ryokan in northern Okayama. Sasaki has launched stylish eateries in Osaka and Tokyo’s Roppongi district, but Roka is his first foray into independent inn operations. His discerning eye shows in every micro-decision behind the conception and design of Roka, although he is quick to point out that the art-infused ryokan is not his brainchild but rather the “heart child” of all on his team. The fact that morning staff meetings conclude with a meditation on mindfulness is indication of the relaxed welcome you’ll find here.

More than a place to stay and dine on exquisite modern kaiseki and sushi, Roka is itself an art project that makes for an exciting new destination on Naoshima. The ryokan is a gallery, an incubator for emerging talent, and a nightlife venue for meeting other art lovers and collectors from around the world. Curated by editor and art producer Shigeo Goto, a professor at Kyoto University of the Arts, the Roka Art Project features works by Kohei Nawa (b. 1975), Masafumi Shigeta (b. 1985), Ryo Shinagawa (b. 1987), Kohei Yamada (b. 1997), Shohei Yamamoto (b. 1994), and Daisuke Yokota (b. 1983) in its growing permanent collection, and staying guests have the opportunity to purchase artworks featured in special exhibitions that rotate two times a year in spring and fall collections. Plans are underway to establish artist residencies as well.

A poetic balance of yin and yang is found throughout the inn’s spaces and offerings, right down to its name. Roka unites the warmth of the hearth (ro) with the softly enveloping qualities of woodland mist (ka) that inspired Sasaki to build on this site. On his first visit, he crested the hill just up the road to find mist rising from a reservoir encircled by trees. Moved by its yin qualities—nurturing, reflective, and filled with potential—he knew he had found a happy place for gatherings and creative exchanges centered around art. Roka is a mere ten-minute walk from Honmura Port, where you can alight from the ferry and begin your Naoshima sojourn with a visit to the Art House Project. Alternatively, head straight to the ryokan to check-in and drop your bags, then return on foot. The Honmura Lounge & Archive is only an eight-minute walk away.

Sasaki’s vision of a small hamlet that rises in harmony with its gently sloped surroundings continues to take shape under the sure hands of architect Hironori Fujioka of the Okayama-based nottuo Inc. With its restaurant and café-bar, 11 guest suites, central firepit for outdoor gatherings, and planned artist studios, it is an exciting new addition to the delights of Naoshima, very much in step with the island’s mission to strengthen community ties through contemporary art.