MOGANA: A True Sense of Japan

Minimalist and peaceful, this new hotel in Kyoto offers an experience based on beauty and balance, where references to the past meet new technology 


Located on a deep and narrow site in the neighbourhood area of Nijo Castle — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — MOGANA opened its doors in December 2018. Created around the concept of yosooi, the process of beautifying and decorating, MOGANA means ‘What if’ in ancient Japanese. Every element of the design and architecture is intended to give guests a deeper understanding of Kyoto culture, and an insight into Japan’s past and future.

The hotel’s designers Takashi Yamaguchi & Associates looked to the notion of a void, which is particularly significant in Eastern philosophy. In the long entrance, instead of the traditional design of latticework that characterises a machiya facade (typical of the wooden townhouses in Kyoto), a mix of lights and sounds creates a unique atmosphere, and one where technology is a key component. In contrast, the check-in lobby features a camellia and arrow bamboo-filled Japanese garden that has been paved with black slate from the city of Kumano. Throughout the hotel the designers’ reinterpretation of traditional small inner courtyards — called tsuboniwa —brighten the long and narrow spaces, and control temperature. 

Some of the 23 rooms — there are six different types, ranging from 32 to 50 square metres each — have a direct view out to a vertical garden, adding an expanse of greenery to the monochrome backdrop where black and white are paramount. On the second floor, the elegant architectural lines and restrained palette continue in the bar, which is adorned with dark tones, a 24-carat gold panel on the ceiling and an 8-metre-long bar counter.  

Much more than a place to stay, MOGANA explores and celebrates local traditions and Japanese philosophy through every aspect, including the breakfast based on fukiyose, a word that refers to the changing colours and scenes of the season all gathered in one, with ingredients grown in the Awajishima area and tableware by Japanese brands Awabi ware and Rakutogama. 

At MOGANA guests are invited to discover the history and culture (both old and contemporary) of Japan through memorable experiences, where beauty is at the heart of everything. 

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Courtesy of Mogana and Takashi Yamaguchi & Associates