While some inns embrace traditional Japanese culture and others are closer to modern resort facilities, Sekitei feels more like the treasure house of a discerning collector.
Sekitei’s history dates back five decades, and the current fourth-generation owner, Junichi Ueno, inherited the business thirty years ago from his father who was also the town mayor. Teien no Yado Sekitei (the official name of the inn) was established in its current incarnation after a typhoon destroyed 70% of an historic building. During the reconstruction, Junichi introduced many of the innovative ideas that make Sekitei what it is today.
The inn is situated in a peaceful Japanese garden of nearly 5,000 square meters, and Junichi tends to every single plant himself. Sometimes when guests walk by he escorts them to the best viewing spots, to ensure that they enjoy the full beauty of the resort.
Taking advantage of the uneven terrain on which it’s built, Sekitei distinguishes itself with its layout of twelve individual guest houses which are specially situated to reveal glimpses of each other from a distance, so that guests can feel the presence of other people while still maintaining their privacy.
Junichi explains that this distance between guests is what makes staying at Sekitei an exceptional experience. For the sake of those who may be unaccustomed to this experience, he believes that attentive service and delicious cuisine are essential factors to enhance guests’ comfort. With this in mind, Junichi changes the menu on a monthly basis, and fine-tunes the details of each room to ensure the best possible experience for each guest.
Walking in the garden is a pleasant and fun experience, as Junichi’s idea was to use the garden as the focal point of the property, surrounding it with the twelve guest rooms and four lounges in such a way that they are both separate and connected. One building contains a hidden library tucked under it, while the adjacent cottage houses a lounge. As a result of experimenting with creative landscaping, each pathway provides a unique experience while the rooms themselves are designed with different interior layouts.
When you’re visiting Sekitei, be sure to drop by the “yukashita-salon” lounge behind the koi fish pond. Choose a comfortable chair, pull out a book and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere created by Junichi Ueno.
Sekitei is located in Hatsukaichi City, around thirty minutes by car from Hiroshima City and just ten minutes from the ferry harbor leading to Miyajima Island, one of Japan’s top three scenic spots. The inn is surrounded by a stunning Japanese garden 5,000 square meters in size, facing the Seto Inland Sea and Miyajima. Visitors can enjoy beautiful views throughout the year - from the bright blue skies and cherry blossoms of springtime to the lush greenery of summer and the red leaves of autumn.
As you might expect, Sekitei’s kitchen draws on the bounty of Hiroshima’s Seto Inland Sea, with its abundant oysters, congereelss, clams, sea bream and flounder. Complemented by seasonal wild vegetables, each dish is delicately arranged to reflect the season. Sekitei's signature dish is a Ueno family secret recipe - Miyajima congereel and rice cooked in an iron pot. Soft, tender congereel is coated with a rich and tangy sauce and mixed into the rice, releasing the irresistible scent of slightly burnt rice crust. This special dish is one reason that so many guests keep coming back for return visits.
Miyahama Onsen is located in Hiroshima’s Hatsukaichi City. Known for its location facing Miyajima Island, Miyahama is still a relatively new hot-spring area. Its spring contains a low level of radioactivity, which is said to have beneficial effects on bathers. Each guest room in Sekitei is equipped with its own private spa, and if you wish to explore further there are also public outdoor hot springs and a modern bathhouse that is available for rental.
In addition to the twelve guest rooms, there are also four specially designed lounges. Classic European and Denmark furnishings fit in beautifully with traditional Japanese wooden architecture. Designer chairs, antiques, collectable books and records reflect the taste of their collector. As the sun sets, Sekitei glistens with uniquely designed lighting. And when it’s time for a drink, check out Sekitei’s wine cellar, which houses a collection of fine wines from around the world. The pairing of wines with traditional Japanese cuisine made from local ingredients represents another splendid meeting of East and West.
Unlike conventional hot spring inns, at Sekitei the service staff wear Western-style uniforms, with the exception of one waitress who wears kimono while serving customers. Another unusual feature is that there is no Okami (female manager) at Sekitei, since owner Junichi Ueno carries out the role of managing the facility.
Most of the crafts you will find at Sekitei are created by local Hiroshima craftsmen, including ceramic artists, metal craftsmen, glassmakers, carpenters and painters. In order to support local artists, Sekitei has established a small art gallery to display their work. The gallery also sells artists’ merchandise as well as souvenirs and special products from neighboring cities.