A Micro-Hotel in the Heart of Tokyo

Making its home in a 70-year-old former geisha house, TRUNK(HOUSE) is a one-of-kind hospitality project that offers an interactive and personalised experience

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Located in Kagurazaka, also known as Tokyo’s ‘Little Kyoto’, TRUNK(HOUSE) is petite, discreet and private — three characteristics that make it as charming as it is unique. Part of the TRUNK brand — which opened its first hotel in 2017 in Shibuya, Tokyo, with plans for 10 new hotels in the Japanese capital by 2027 — TRUNK(HOUSE) comprises just one bedroom and accommodates only four people. 

The 70-year-old, two-storey property opened its doors in August 2019, following a thorough remodelling by TRUNK Atelier (the brand’s in-house design team) and Tokyo-based interior design studio Tripster. From the outside, the hotel looks much like the original geisha house, while inside has a residential atmosphere akin to a townhouse. ‘Each property we create is inspired by its location,’ says Hiroe Tanaka, creative director at TRUNK. ‘For Trunk House, it was the district of Kakurenbo Yokocho, or “Hide-and-Seek Alley”.’

Contemporary and modern design combine with traditional elements, creating balance and contrast. The stone genkan-style entry (restored to its original form), grey mortar walls, dark terrazzo floors, paper screens, wood-panelled ceilings and a stained-glass window all evoke the building’s history, while brass pendant lights by Nara-based New Light Pottery, marble countertops, metal-framed leather sofas by Stephen Kenn, ceramic bowls and utensils by American contemporary artist Tom Sachs — who reinterprets the Japanese tea ceremony in his work — and a paper work by artist Chiaki Hirano add contemporary touches. A modernist feel also pervades, with pieces by Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille Lampadaire, Eames and George Nelson, while other furniture and art was specially commissioned for the space. As Tanaka explains, the concept is ‘Tokyo Design’ and reflects the city’s uniqueness in ‘merging old and new in different ways.’

In the dining room and kitchen, private chefs are available to cook for and interact with guests while they relax on tatamis in the tearoom complete with a traditional irori fireplace. In the muted bath area — inspired by Japan’s bathhouses — the tile artwork by contemporary ukiyo-e painter and woodblock print artist Masumi Ishikawa and aromatic hinoki bathtub set a peaceful scene, while in the open living room, views of the garden — designed by Japanese landscaping firm Oryza — also emphasise serenity.

Echoing Kagurazaka’s historical association with music and dance, TRUNK(HOUSE) is also home to ‘the smallest disco in Japan’, with karaoke machines, light-up flooring and a customised sound system. Surprising as this addition may seem, at TRUNK(HOUSE) every element plays its part in the whole story — a story about Tokyo, both old and new.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Courtesy of TRUNK(HOUSE)

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Travel, SleepKarine MoniéTokyo, Japan