Kumu in Kanazawa Connects People and Places

all photos by takumi ota

The Japanese word kumu is a verb with many nuances. Depending on the context, kumu can mean “to join,”  “to draw out,”  or “to pour.”  In that sense, it was the perfect name for a hotel that embodies connection and hospitality: connecting people with a place, drawing out a guests feelings and pouring them a drink.

Kumu opened during the summer of 2017 in a building renovated by architect Yusuke Seki, who set out to design a space that is both inclusive and engaged with its context. “The hotel includes options ranging from dormitories to suites to accommodate the diverse needs of travelers today,” says Seki. In dialogue with Kanazawa’s tea houses, a tea salon on the ground floor “joins” the hotel to the community and entices guests to explore other places in the city.

“Kumu” also appears in other places. Traditional Japanese joinery was used for the timber grid in the lobby. The custom-designed furniture joins different textures and materials, while the screens in the guest rooms feature grid-like detailing. The space, in its entirety, feels like the best of both modern and traditional worlds.

Kanazawa is an old castle town on the Sea of Japan, famous for its tea-house districts and traditional crafts. Ever since the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen created a direct link between Tokyo and Kanazawa in 2015, the city has seen renewed interest from both domestic and foreign travelers.

Unfortunately, the Noto Earthquake that struck in early 2024 caused many to cancel their plans for travelling to Kanazawa as they did not want to stretch thin resources. Kanazawa, as well as other cities outside the Noto region, remain largely unaffected by the earthquake and the mayor of Ishikawa, as well as many others, are asking travellers to come as this will only help life resume to normal. If travelling to Kanazawa, consider the Kumu Hotel and check out our broader guide to Ishikawa.

1 Comment

  1. I stayed at this hotel for 3 nights in Oct 2022 because of this review. I’m sorry to say that it was so NOT worth it. Unlike EVERY other place I’ve stayed in Japan (15 trips, averaging 7 days each, for work and pleasure, over the past decade), kumu in Kanazawa ALONE was atypical in its utter lack of hospitality. The beautiful lobby is off-limits unless you are buying a meal. The window coverings in the room make you feel like you’re caged in a prison. Everything is self-service (but not self-service prices). Go to Kanazawa. It is one of the most lovely parts of Japan. Stay somewhere else.

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