[Japan: Karuizawa] Hotel Review: SHISHI-IWA HOUSE No.3

Can architecture impact emotions and enhance well-being? This concept lies at the heart of SHISHI-IWA HOUSE - home to 3 architectural masterpieces in the popular resort town Karuizawa. We stayed at House No. 3 which is the newest in its collection and a mountain nature retreat for guests to spend quiet time together without any interruptions. Designed by Pritzker Prize laureate Ryue Nishizawa, the house is comprised of 10 pavilions interconnected by a series of covered walkways and garden courtyards. All guest rooms are stand-alone units with windows on all four walls and comes with a wrapped terrace. Another prominent feature is the use of the sacred hinoki cypress wood which has been used for centuries in Japan to build shrines and temples - the smell of the wood is especially aromatic in the private onsen bathhouse. Designed as a retreat from the modern world, the stay is one filled with serenity and peacefulness.


We stayed in Room 308 - a Superior Room located on the second floor with a western style bed. The entire room is wrapped in hinoki wood - even the bathtub in the bathroom.


One of the special facilities is the private Bathhouse which houses a large sunken hinoki bathtub with garden views. There are also various tea rooms and lounges available on both levels of the building for guests to relax in.


The hotel's restaurant SHOLA is located at House No.2 which showcases the freshest local produce from farmers in the Nagano region. Designed by architect Shigeru Ban, the building is another masterpiece with a flowing skywalk wrapped around the it - serving as a transition from the outside to the inner world like a pathway to a tea house. The upper level comprises of a large communal space containing the restaurant, wine & whisky bar, cigar room and forest terrace. It is open to non-staying visitors as well as overnight guests.

During my stay, I had the opportunity to try a special menu jointly created by 6 chefs from all over Asia - Ricardo Chaneton of Mono in Hong Kong, Johanne Siy of Lolla in Singapore, Barry Quek of Whey in Hong Kong, Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery in Manila, Coleman Griffin of Sower in Shiga and Masashi Okamoto of Shola! As part of the hotel’s first culinary retreat, the chefs were invited to explore their creativity with inspirations from the surrounding architecture, nature and local produce from Nagano in Japan. The end result was spontaneous, fun and most of all delicious as the chefs worked together on all of the dishes - highlights included the fried chicken with a funky sambal dressing, the trout kinilaw with a super sweet kabu, and the smoked wild deer paired with mushrooms!

Fried Osawa Farm Chicken, Sambal Dressing

Trout Kinilaw, Duca Farm Kabu Karuizawa, Garden Farm Strawberries

Shinshu Salmon From Saku City, Duca Farm Nasturtium Leaves, Purslane

Wild Deer from Chino City, Kitazawa Farm Mushrooms

Mix Herbs Rice, Celeriac and Avocado Leaf Consommé, Grilled Tankakugyu Crab Roe, Smoked Duck from Matsumoto City, Hachinoko Bearnaise, Duca Farm Greens

Profiterole, Chocolate Sauce

For breakfast, the restaurant has both Japanese and Western options.

Thank you SHISHI-IWA HOUSE for the opportunity to connect with the beautiful nature in Karuizawa during our stay!

2147-40 Nagakura, Karuizawa, Kitasaku District, Nagano 389-0111


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