Japan's oldest prison to be reborn as luxury hotel

Nikkei -- Mar 29
Japan's oldest penitentiary will reopen as an upscale hotel run by Hoshino Resorts in 2021.

The historic Nara Prison will undergo a 15 billion yen ($136 million) renovation, including work to boost earthquake resistance. Most recently serving as a juvenile prison until closing in 2017, the site features Romanesque red-brick construction and archways.

The property "is not only a former prison but has high value for embodying the Meiji-era architecture," Hoshino Resorts CEO Yoshiharu Hoshino said. "We hope to make it a fine luxury facility by taking advantage of its current design."

The buildings, in the western city of Nara, were completed in 1908 and is the only intact prison among the five set up by the Meiji-era government in a move to modernize detention facilities. It is recognized as an important cultural site, and will be the first prison in Japan to be repurposed as a hotel.

The hotel will have a few dozen rooms across four of the site's five buildings. Prison cells with high ceilings will be used as guest rooms, with storage areas and guard quarters renovated into common spaces.

Rates have not been disclosed, but are likely to range from 50,000 yen to 80,000 yen nightly -- comparable with other upscale hotels run by Hoshino Resorts.

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