matsuyama: dogo onsen art

© dogo onsen art / yayoi kusama's design for hotel horizontal

to many japanese, a visit to a so-called onsen is the ultimate in relaxation. originally a term for hot springs, it now refers to the bathing facilities around them. it's an old tradtion that's firmly anchored in local culture and there's a great variety of places, ranging from traditional to modern, and from very basic to highly prestigious ones. the dogo onsen in matsuyama - a provincial town on shikoku island in southern japan - is one of the country's oldest hot springs, and combined with its beautifully preserved, traditional facilities, it definitely falls into the latter category. this year the spa's main building celebrates its 120th anniversary, and it does so in a pretty cool way that puts the city in the limelight and will also appeal to a whole new demographic.

the dogo onsen art event is built around a large-scale exhibition which kicks off early april and continues until the end of the year. it sees the participation of five of japan's most prominent creatives: artist yayoi kusama, poet shuntaro tanikawa, photographer araki nobuyoshi and textile designers akira minagawa and fujiwo ishimoto. this illustrious party has been invited to decorate not only dogo onsen's main building, but also a number of rooms and spaces in eleven hotels and ryokans in the immediate area, and as you can see the result is quite cool. the dogo onsen art event will also feature a string of additional activities. like to see us do a skinny dip? see you there!

© dogo onsen art / yayoi kusama, fujiwo ishimoto and nobuyoshi araki for hotel horizontal [top to bottom]