The featured photo was taken from their official website.
There’s a new hotel in the Kanagawa prefecture, just a short trip from Tokyo in the center of Japan, that is looking to offer travelers a fresh perspective in hospitality. Christened Hakone Honbako (which roughly translates to ‘Hakone Bookshelf’), its walls are covered floor-to-ceiling in thousands of books.
The ‘library hotel’ or ‘book hotel,’ as many around the internet have nicknamed it, is Japan’s latest offering in quiet, relaxing, and mind-opening vacation spaces for all ages.
After seeing the pictures, however, the first thing that caught my eye is the abundance of mid-century modern pieces, adorning the corners of common areas and creating cozy and mildly Scandinavian spaces in the rooms.
The Danish hotel still keeps the same furniture in the common areas (albeit updated), and Hakone Honbako seems to have taken some cues from this interior design scheme, complete with a couple Saarinen tables, Harry Bertoia chairs, and other iconic pieces from the era.
The concept behind the new ‘library hotel’
Honbako’s official website tells us about the importance of books and reading. There is an emphasis of relaxation and coziness, but there’s also a preoccupation for learning.
A rough translation of their copy tells us that the opportunities for people to read and interact with books on a regular basis have diminished, and that the age of the internet still benefits from paperbacks and hardcovers, no matter the speed of your WiFi connection.
They even have little in-house projects to encourage reading, such as suggesting the particular book ‘collection’ left behind by a previous guest as a way to get you started.
The hotel looks to enrich the lives of guests by offering them the perfect spot for sitting down and enjoying the rapture of a good novel, poem, or essay. Afterwards, they can bath on the hotel’s own onsen springs, and enjoy a full night’s rest on the puffy Western-style beds.
It goes without saying that whenever guests dive deep into a good story, they’ll be doing so on comfortable MCM icons that they won’t want to get up from (probably), so that’s also a plus.
Their main website doesn’t yet have an English version, but it will still blow your mind. Hakone Honbako might be the latest example in ‘Scandenese’ (Scandinavian and Japanese) interior design, a term that I’ve come across a couple of times around the internet while looking for trends that relate to the mid-century modern aesthetic.
I really wish I could visit, so make sure to take a lot of photos if you happen to drop by anytime soon.
A little more about Hakone
The town of Hakone, located within the valley of Lake Ashi, is already famous for being the location of a Shinto shrine that’s around 1,200 years old, and is also the standing place of a large torii gate (erected in 1964) that celebrates the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951.
Hakone is also full of remarkable onsen (hot springs), many of which have become famous among both locals and tourists from all over Japan and the world. The town also has a couple interesting art museums, and served as inspiration for the setting of the cult manga and anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
If you find yourself in the valley area you can take a dreamlike cable-car ride overlooking mount Fuji, and then stay at Honbako (so you can brag about sitting on an original Jacobsen chair). Truly a paradise for any MCM enthusiast.