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Accommodation + Art & Culture: A New Style of Okinawan Resort at [Hotel Anteroom Naha] (Naha City)
post : 2020.11.15 07:00
Adjacent to the Tomari Port Passenger’s Terminal where ships and ferries connect Okinawa Island with the outer islands, a hotel where guests can enjoy accommodation and art has opened in February 2020. Its name is Hotel Anteroom Naha.
Work by Artist yang02: Untitled Drawing #4 (by a Device for “Graffiti”)
As the doors to the front entrance opens, you’re welcomed by artwork lit up in a cool shade of blue, a stark contrast to the strong rays of the Okinawa sun just outside. One step inside, you’ll find yourself in a completely different world. With the fatigue of travel quickly diminished, you’ll be even more excited about staying at this special hotel.
Work by Artist Mio Yamato: RED DOT(BIO)
Walk through another door to the hotel entrance hall. Here, you’ll be overwhelmed by the art piece that takes up the whole wall that’s about six meters tall as you make your way to the front desk situated on the second floor.
Work by Artist Mika Shinagawa: Traveler
Lured by the delicious aroma, I decided to have lunch at the ANTEROOM MEALS located further from the Front Desk before checking in. The lunch menu offered an all-you-can-eat course that included an assortment of appetizers with seasonal vegetables, pastas and risotto, and housemade focaccia. The lunch accompanied by the great harbor view was lovely, and reasonably priced at ¥1,680.
After the satisfying meal, I went to the Front Desk where the check-in went smoothly. As I entered my room, a ferry was just returning to port from an outer island and passing by the sliding glass doors to the balcony. Grateful for the fortunate timing, I quickly got out my camera and took some photos.
After that, the whistle of the ferries sailing in and out of the port signaled a few moments for them to rest. Naturally, my eyes were attracted to the water that spread before me and I felt a sense of calmness.
Later on, I decided to go for coffee at the bar lounge, and I took a seat at the counter on the terrace and gazed out on to the bridge that stretched above the ocean.
The view from here is different from the more common ocean view across Okinawa where the brilliant blue sky and seas shine in contrast with the white sand on the beaches. Still, the sound of the cars on the bridge and sensing the presence of people working at the fishing port offered an attractive sight.
My coffee was served by Sakihara-san, whom I remembered from the first time that I had stayed at the hotel, six months ago. She remembered me too, and offered a friendly hello. Her warm gesture was delightful.
We talked about her dreams and aspirations, and great places to go in Okinawa. From the conversation, I saw how she was really attentive about ‘enjoying herself every day and offering the best service to the customers for them to enjoy their stay’. This quality of hospitality is another attraction about this hotel.
The sunset hours approached, the time of day that Sakihara-san had mentioined. From the hotel, you can see the beautiful view of the sun setting just beyond the Naha Cruise Terminal where the extravagant cruise ships from around the world dock. Due to COVID-19, we aren’t able to see the ships now, but I’m sure that the ships will return to the docks and we’ll be able to see the awesome scenery of the sun setting beyond the glitter of the ships once again.
Tourists, local residents, and people who were working nearby had gathered to enjoy the wonderful view of this magical hour, and after casual greetings, we all gazed out and enjoyed the sunset together. It was a heartwarming moment as I felt like I was a part of the local community. It reminded me of an Okinawan saying, “Ichariba Chodei”, which can be translated as “once we meet, we are brothers”. I was able to experience that here with the people around me, and made me cherish Okinawa even more.
For dinner, I went back to the same restaurant in the hotel, ANTEROOM MEALS. Fresh catch procured from a nearby fishing port lined the counter, and diners can choose their preferred fish and how they want it prepared. This time, I asked for Zuppa di Pesce, an Italian-based seafood dish. From its ingredients to the very last drop of the tomato and seafood soup, everything was simply delicious and exquisite.
After dinner, I headed to the rooftop terrace, and awaiting me there was a dazzling evening view where the city lights glittered on the waters. The breeze that flowed was comfortable, and as I lazily looked out, I remembered one of Sakihara-san’s dreams that she shared with me. She said, “Someday, I want to create art on to the factory tanks just below us.” I pictured her dream and agreed how wonderful that would be. If Hotel Anteroom Naha could lead the way into creating art all across this neighborhood, how wonderfully interesting that would be, and how there would be another great addition to Okinawa’s attractions. My mind was full of imagination as I settled in early for a good night’s rest.
I awoke at 6:00 the next morning and headed back to the rooftop terrace to see the sunrise. Once again, I luckily arrived just in time and the sun was just poking its head above the horizon. It was a little bit chilly, but the sun’s rays warmed me up and I enjoyed the glorious morning.
I picked up my morning breakfast set at the Front Desk and decided to eat at the terrace counter. It was relaxing to have my breakfast there, soaking up the morning rays and taking in the view of the ocean, thoroughly enjoying the leisurely time. For breakfast, I chose from their three selections and had their housemade roasted pork sandwich. The set came with a salad, coffee, soup, and smoothie, and the nutritious breakfast was satisfying in taste and volume. With the meal finished, I felt my body and mind totally ready to start my day.
Work by Artist Erika Kobayashi: Coexistence
With my preparations to head out to my next destination complete, I decided to take in the artworks on display at the hotel’s GALLERY 9.5 NAHA before checking out. It was early and the gallery was still quiet. The depth and angles on the dimensional art on display looked further enhanced with the morning sun pouring in through the windows. You can enjoy different expressions of the artworks on display throughout the day as the sun changes positions, allowing you to see and discover new angles in the pieces. I recommend repeated visits to the gallery to see the varying expressions throughout the day and hope you’ll take your time to enjoy the art on display.
In staying at the hotel, I saw there were many experiences and various sights that you can only enjoy here. It’s not simply a hotel, and it’s not just an art gallery. Hotel Anteroom Naha offers a different allure than what the resort hotels in Okinawa have been offering up to now. How about choosing this hotel to stay while in Okinawa?
One last thing. In front of the elevator, there’s an oblique line art on display, a piece by Kohei Nawa, titled Direction #265. The exterior design of Hotel Anteroom Naha incorporates this piece, and placed somewhere within the hotel grounds are “hidden directions”. Take a stroll around, and perhaps you’ll be able to find it during your stay here.
[Hotel Anteroom Naha]
Address: 3-27-11 Maejima, Naha City, Okinawa
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Yu Murakami