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Where Ancient Tradition Meets Modern Travel: Amanemu, Ise Shima 


2020 will widely be remembered as the year travel changed for good. With global restrictions forcing a slower pace of life and a renewed appreciation for the world around us, 2021 is likely to see a shift in focus from fast-paced, impulse-driven travel to more sustainable destinations with a sense of purpose and connection to local culture.

One of those destinations is Amanemu, the second Japanese property from Aman, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Named after the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’ and ‘nemu’ meaning joy in Japanese, Amanemu is located in the heart of Ise Shima National Park, making it a sanctuary for escapism from the everyday hustle of Japan’s major cities.

The connection to nature and genuine celebration of local culture are what sets Amanemu apart. The proximity to the Ago Bay is felt at every step of the journey, from panoramic poolside views, to fresh seafood and historic pearl diving culture. Ancient rituals are combined with contemporary Japanese design, all surrounded by sacred forests and Unesco Pilgrimage Trails, inspiring an experience like no other.

Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, the resort takes inspiration from traditional Minka-style villas, and makes extensive use of natural materials in true Aman style. Each of the resort’s 28 suites and villas is equipped with private onsen and unspoiled views of the Ago Bay, providing a space to unwind whilst immersed in the pristine natural surroundings.

Two spa pavilions offer world class treatments, including an open air onsen. A heated 33-metre outdoor swimming pool gives families a place to unwind with the kids, and the in-house restaurant serves up local gourmet delicacies such as local Matsusaka wagyu beef, and fresh daily catch from the waters of the Ago Bay. The katsuo no tatami (鰹のタタキ) seared bonito sashimi was a personal favourite of mine.

Any trip to an Aman property is a cultural education, and Amanemu is no different. Known as the ‘Bay of Pearls’, the Ago Bay is home to pearl diving culture dating back over 3000 years, and during my visit I was fortunate to meet one of the area’s last remaining Ama Divers. Once known as the ‘pearl-diving mermaids of Japan’, the Ama (海女) literally translating to ‘sea women’, are famous for collecting and sustainably farming oyster pearls, and hand-catching some of the freshest seafood from the bay. One of Japan’s many dying trades, this is a truly unique way to experience some of the area’s historic culture.

If you are planning on visiting Japan through 2021, or in search of a safe and remote location, Amanemu comes highly recommended. Relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in the magic of it all.

Getting Around
Amanemu is easily accessible by car from Honshu’s major transport hubs including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Local station Kashikojima is a 20-minute drive from the hotel, and Nagoya Chubu International Airport is the closest hub, at around a three-hour drive away. Once at the resort, on-site golf buggies are readily available to transport you between each of the pavilions and facilities.

Local Landmarks
Take advantage of surrounding attractions including Japan’s most sacred shrine, Ise Jingu, or the world-famous Unesco Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail. A little closer to the resort is an 18-hole championship golf course, Ama Diver pearl rafts, and the Yokoyama Observatory Deck for a change in perspective over the Ago Bay.

Find out more via aman.com
Photography by Ben Richards

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