A retreat on Shodoshima Island in central Tokyo

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Just steps from Hamamatsu-cho Station, Hotel Rilassare Tokyo is an oasis of calm and tranquility in one of Tokyo’s busiest transportation hubs. The concept and design was inspired by the island of Shodoshima in the Seto Inland Sea, and I was lucky enough to discover this charming boutique hotel during a recent stay.

While Shodoshima is part of Kagawa Prefecture, the sunny island’s nature and climate lead to frequent comparisons with the Mediterranean region. This is reflected in the name of the hotel – which means “relaxation” in Italian – and perfectly sums up my own experience as a guest.

Thoughtful design inspired by the nature of Shodoshima

Rilassare is less than a five-minute walk from Hamamatsu-cho station, located on a quiet street. I enjoyed the welcoming sight of seasonal flowers in the hotel’s small garden before stepping through the discreet entrance. Shodoshima is famous for its olives, which inspired the soothing color palette of the cozy lounge adjacent to reception. I was delighted to see state of the art coffee and tea capsule machines available for free at any time of the day or night.

Upon entering my guest room, I was immediately taken with the spacious layout, with a double bed and carefully arranged “mini-spaces” for working, reading, eating or watching TV. This aspect would be particularly appreciated if you are traveling with a partner or a friend, since each of you could work or relax in the room without disturbing the other. Unlike most Japanese hotels, I also liked that the room offered a selection of lighting options, to suit a range of needs and moods. It was clear that a lot of thought has gone into creating a multi-functional and comfortable room, making it a haven of peace after a long day of travelling, sightseeing or meetings.

Tasteful options abound

After a restful night, I headed to the nearby Yuhigaoka Shokudou, a restaurant that offers all-day dining options and is also open to the public. Hotel guests can choose from a selection of hearty breakfasts or simply enjoy a drink and fresh baked goods. The restaurant is also becoming popular with businessmen and local residents.

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In addition to Yuhigaoka Shokudou, the company operates Ristorante Casa Setouchi next to the hotel and Teppanyaki Seto a short walk away. The cuisine of the three restaurants showcases Shodoshima’s culinary culture, including soy sauce, lemons and olive products, and some fruits and vegetables are sourced from Calore, the company’s farm in Shodoshima.

On the way back to the station, I stopped at Ponte Seto-umi, an exclusive boutique on the first floor of the same building as Teppanyaki Seto. It offers a variety of products mostly from the Setouchi area, including some products with Calore ingredients, and I picked out a few treats to enjoy at home.

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Connecting people, food and culture

Rilassare is the brainchild of Hiroshi Kasai, who has ties to both Shodoshima and the Hamamatsu-cho region. Born and raised in Shodoshima, Kasai grew up in an environment where it was natural to make the most of seasonal ingredients and look out for others, in a friendly spirit of community cooperation.

Having worked in Hamamatsu-cho after arriving in Tokyo early in his business career, Kasai felt an affinity for this area of ​​Tokyo, which he says is a hub for land, air and sea transportation to and from from the capital. Drawing on his experience running a popular hotel on the island, Kasai aspired to create a small Shodoshima oasis where people could experience a taste of his hometown. nukumori: a feeling of warmth and welcome.

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“We have added touches of Shodoshima and its nature throughout the hotel. For example, the building is surrounded by blocks of island stone, and we commissioned local artist Ryo Date to create original paintings for each room. They feature typical scenes and nature of the island,” says Kasai.

“Our mission is to use food, art and culture as a platform to connect Shodoshima and Tokyo. We have already hosted performances by Shodoshima musicians at nearby Ristorante Casa Setouchi, and we hope to hold such events in our living room here in Rilassare in the future as well,” Kasai says. “When I was a kid, helping each other and bonding was one of the most important things in life. I feel like modern life in the big city misses this and would like to bring that feeling back with our hotel and activities.

Warmth, nature, relaxation and human connection – we could all use these enduring qualities more in our busy daily lives. Although I also recommend visiting beautiful Shodoshima, the best thing is to have a relaxing stay in Rilassare in the heart of Hamamatsu-cho.

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© Japan today

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