PILGRIMAGE TO ISE
The idyllic resort of Amanemu is a good two hours away from Nagoya, the largest city in central Japan. For the most part, you’re on the highway. The scenery outside is of mountains, rice fields, and quiet towns.
Once off the main road, it’s a pleasant drive that winds through forest groves and sleepy hamlets on the way to the famous shrine of Ise. This is one of the most important religious sites in Japan. Japanese have been trooping here for centuries as a rite of religious passage, to seek comfort and solace in the wisdom of the ages.
From Ise Shrine, it’s a short hop to Amanemu, a most luxuriously understated resort on a hill right by the sea. In fact, at first glance it’s almost too refined.
Chances are, you will walk into the reception area and be underwhelmed. You see, this itself is the perfect combination of restrained Japanese aesthetics and Western-style minimalism. So there you are, getting checked in and sitting in the lounge drinking your barley tea. Suddenly the stark simplicity hits you. You start asking yourself exactly it is you have traveled so far for.
THE WORLD OF AMAN
Nothing shouts glamor at Amanemu, even if the rack rates for even a one-night stay here definitely lean in this direction. Instead, everything whispers ever so subtly that you have just entered the world of the discreet and discriminating
Of course, if you are a luxury traveler in the know, you will go here without hesitation. Or if you are an Aman junkie, as some travelers who fly to various exotic destinations simply to experience an Aman hotel or resort have started calling themselves, you will have booked your stay here without even bothering to leaf through a brochure or to look at online photos.
There is a certain kind of traveler who knows that the Aman resorts always delivers an excellent product. Regardless of where you are in the world of Aman, you see, there is a reason for every decision. This includes everything from location to design.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
This remote hilltop site for Amanemu was chosen for its proximity to an area of Japan rich in culture and history. Until now, it has largely remained out of the reach of upmarket travelers because of the lack of comfortable infrastructure.
This area is of course known best for the mysterious third-century grand shrine of Ise. However, this particular area of central Japan is also famous for pearl farms. Traditional Ama women divers still go diving for pearls even today.
To get to Amanemu, it’s about a two-hour drive or train ride from Nagoya, or a short chartered helicopter ride from Nagoya’s Chubu International Airport. I guess you can also take a helicopter from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport, but Chubu International Airport is closer.
Also, the vast tracts of ancient woodlands comprising the famed UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails attract many nature lovers. These have remained largely untouched through the centuries. And now, with Amanemu in the same neighborhood, it’s also a pilgrimage site of sorts for luxury travelers seeking the kind of comforts only an Aman resort can offer.