At least one town in Japan is enjoying the cold and the heavy snowfall – at least enjoying it enough to open up a new business that is, shall we say, ice-cold. Tobetsu, a little known town in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, is aiming to attract visitors and tourists to its newly opened hotel that is made of ice, something that is in abundance during winter in northern Japan. This is, most likely, Japan’s first hotel made of ice, complete with three guest rooms, a bar and a variety of attractions.
The Ice Hills Hotel, designed by 61-year-old Hidenobu Nakaya, owner of a Sapporo-based design company, opened earlier this month and will continue to operate until March 15 – when the cold of winter will give way to Japanese spring season. The town of Tobetsu, in the Ishikari district near the city island’s main city of Sapporo, does get a lot of snow, very much like snowfall happening in central and eastern Honshu – Japan’s central island – at the moment, only that it gets cold here very regularly. The town has a solid reputation for being bitterly cold, and in that, there is no fear that the ice hotel might melt soon. The people who developed it are hoping that the Ice Hills Hotel will at lease attract some curious tourists to the town.
“The snow piles up in drifts and covers the whole town. We would like to overturn the negative association of the snow with bitter cold,” said Nakaya, designer of the hotel. He said that he was inspired by the ice hotels which are hugely popular in Northern Europe during the winter. And in this, the town of Tobetsu had help creating its own ice hotel from craftsmen with experience building such hotels in Sweden. Nakaya, who was appointed to design the bar where leisure activities at the hotel are centered, cut snow blocks that had frozen into ice with a chain saw. “I didn’t dare use plans for the building. I thought about the design while constructing it,” he said.
Nakaya studied design at the Osaka University of Arts in Sapporo, and decided to enter the design industry in his mid-30s. He is well-known in Hokkaido for his commitment and contribution to the community, and his efforts to raise the profile of Hokkaido businesses. The idea for ice hotel came up as they were finding ways to teach people more about the town of Tobetsu, known only as an industrial town. Nakaya headed the development of the ice hotel, which now has three guest rooms with beds and tables for overnight stays. The hotel has candles LED lights for interior lighting.
[via Business Standard]