Esashi Ryotei Kuki is a delightful Japanese inn in the town of Esashi, an important centre in the history of Hokkaido that still retains much of the feel of a Japanese settlement of the shogunate times. Herring from Esashi has fed the Japanese for many hundreds of years and the quantity of herring was said to be so great that it turned the colour of the sea white. The coastal hotel overlooks the Sea of Japan and Kamomejima, an rocky spire of an island and Shinto shrine. Nakayama Architects captured Esashi’s strong fishing history in the hotel’s concept which is like a wooden boat resting up among the boulders in a riverbed. Inside, Kuki is built to a historical configuration made almost entirely from wood and offers exclusive comfort in each of its seven rooms. Local stone, soil, wood, iron and pottery along with sculptures and paintings by Yasuda, and Junko Koshino dressing gowns complete the feel. The architecture is designed to heal the guest and wash stress from the mind; not showy but subtle and soft. Attentive staff and excellent service are what makes that happen. Esashi is four hours drive from Niseko or two hours by train from Hakodate.