What We Love
- Hushed leafy surroundings steeped in ancient Japanese traditions
- The 100-foot infinity pool overlooking Ago Bay
- Drinking Japanese whiskey on sunken open-air terraces surrounding a fire pit
- A spa built around natural hot springs converted into shallow pools edged by oversize daybeds
What To Know
- Because of the focus on relaxation and regeneration, options for active pursuits are limited
- The property is quite spread out; bikes or a staff-driven buggy are on offer
- Guests have access an 18-hole championship-level golf club nearby
Aman’s trademark restrained luxury is especially subtle at this countryside property, 190 miles southwest of Tokyo, made up of a series of low-slung, pitched-roofed pavilions inspired by Japanese farmhouses known as minka. The hotel’s contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture was informed by Amanemu’s setting in Ise-Shima National Park, a foliage-rich area bordering Ago Bay where ancient traditions like pearl diving are still alive. At the resort’s heart is a 22,000-square-foot spa built around a natural onsen that was designed as a series of tiered shallow pools. Signature treatments like the 90-minute Seasonal Journey, which starts with a centuries-old foot-cleansing ritual using wasabi scrub, are a must.
Blond wood and off-white textiles predominate at Amanemu’s 24 luxurious but spare suites and four two-bedroom villas, all with alfresco decks overlooking Ago Bay or the resort’s gardens. An exception is the bathrooms, whose dark palette is made up of black basalt stone tiles covering walls, floors and private onsen bathtubs that draw mineral-rich water from nearby hot springs.
At the in-house restaurant, a small army of chefs create the daily-changing menu, which focuses on the area’s natural bounty, including rare fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish like abalone and spiny lobster, and Matsusaka, an ultra-tender and finely marbled wagyu beef. Western options like pasta are also available.
Amanemu is set within Ise-Shima National Park in the southern Mie Prefecture, a region known for its seafood, pearl farms and one of Japan’s most sacred shrines, Ise-Jingu. High-speed trains from Nagoya, Osaka, or Kyoto, which take between two and three hours, arrive several times a day at Kashikojima station, where guests are ushered to a private car for the 20-minute drive to the hotel.
How to Get There
Although an expensive drive from Kyoto or Osaka, Amanemu offers an oasis of calm and superlative service. The food is outstanding, the naturally-heated pools relaxing, and the rooms are of a higher standard than any 5 star urban hotel.
This Chain of Hotels are excellent. Including the room, all of them with jacuzzi and beautiful view. Service with a butler for you at your disposition, Rooms near the main restaurant are better. Food is preordered so next day no waiting time. Highly recommended
We stayed as a family of four for y few days at this property. We had a very good experience there. The rooms are very large and beautiful. The beds are very comfortable. The spa is great. The swimming pool is fantastic. Breakfast and food are very good. We did a sunset cruse, which was one of the highlights of our trip in Japan.
nice rooms, great service and friendly staff. its far away from anything though. there is nowhere else to eat but at the hotel unless you want to take a cab to the nearest town. and taxi in japan is one of the most expensive in the world. the other option is to rent a car so you'll have more flexibility to explore the surrounding area at a more reasonable price.
the food in the restaurant is just average in my opinion and its very pricey. so its good to stay for a day or 2 max to enjoy the facility and the rooms.
It’s always a challenge: How do you both go sightseeing and at the same time also enjoy all the pleasures a top tier resort like Amanemu has to offer? There just aren’t enough waking hours in the day.
In my early years of travel I used to check in to my accommodation and then straight away rush around trying to do everything on offer. But now I’ve come to realise it can be more satisfying, more memorable to spend more time doing fewer things (after all, you can always come back) – rather than adopt the “if this is Tuesday it must be Belgium” approach.
When Amanemu was first announced (and it had nothing to do with the Australian “emu”) the name was defined as:
“Embracing the full richness of the region, Amanemu, named after the Sanskrit word aman for 'peace' and nemu meaning 'joy' in Japanese, will adopt a classic Japanese aesthetic in the ryokan tradition to provide an exclusive sanctuary in harmony with its natural surroundings.”
And indeed, the 24 suites and four villas combine luxurious yet natural design (like all the other Aman resorts) with the native flora in Ise Shima National Park overlooking the Sea of Ise Shima and Ago Bay.
What does it feel like to stay here?
The setting is perfectly peaceful, the accommodation totally comfortable. My suite has two daybeds inside as well as the king-size bed, plus two daybeds outside. I’m lying on one of them as I type this, overlooking the sea, with the sounds of birds, the wind in the bushes and trees, and the purring motor of a boat in the far distance possibly tending to the pearl and seaweed farms…bliss.
The service is quintessentially Japanese topped off by the highest Aman standards. Translation: Every one of the staff will do anything for you – willingly, genuinely, and with respect.
I love the tradition of bowing; the lower the bow, the more respect is shown. Staff here respect you as an honoured guest, and you as a guest can return the respect to the staff who do everything possible to make your stay as memorable in as many ways as possible. The smiles you get in return provide yet one more enhancement to your guest experience.
Day and night I have been happy to relax in any one of the five beds in my suite, to have a private hot mineral waters bath in my deep, stone-like tiled bath whose adjacent floor-to-ceiling glass panels slide completely open, to soak in the expansive public hot springs bathing complex, to read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” ahead of my upcoming visit to the Channel Islands, to be amused by my wash toilet whose lid flips open in a welcoming way when I approach (and whose light comes on in the bowl…I’m not quite sure why – perhaps so you know where to sit during a night-time visit), to have a “grounding scrub and wrap” on one day and a two-hour massage another day, to feast on beautifully prepared and presented meals, to ride a bike to a nearby beach and sunken aquatic gardens, to swim in the 33m infinity edge pool.
Of course there are plenty of sights/sites to see and enjoy in the area as well – from the 125 shinto shrines, to the Ama Hut Experience (stories, food) with the women whose tradition of freediving for sea-bottom shellfish goes back thousands of years, to the Toba Aquarium, to cruises on the waterways, to simply walking around the five towns in this area.
The Iseshima Tourism office has more information, and suggests a two-day tour of the area’s highlights. Express buses link Tokyo and Ise Shima; it’s a direct 2.5-hour train ride from Osaka’s Namba station; you can rent a car and drive here.
Ideally, allow enough time to explore and enjoy both the area’s highlights and all the resort’s amenities. Aman plus Japan: it doesn’t get any better than this.