Here's where you can stay in Japan for creative and social retreats

Nature and architecture come together at Japan’s Shishi-Iwa House to reinforce human connection and creativity

shishi-iwa house

In Virginia Woolf’s seminal essay A Room of One’s Own, she wrote that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she was to write fiction (read: create art): “In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a soundproof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century.” She asserts that if women were faced with constraints like poverty or lack of privacy, then they couldn’t produce work of the quality of Shakespeare. Woolf, who came from privilege, had no problems finding her own writing room.

And in modern times, women can find space to think and create almost anywhere: an alcove in a house; a hot desk in a co-working office; or a Balinese sojourn to eat, pray and write.

shishi-iwa house

But one doesn’t get inspiration in pure isolation, and Shishi-Iwa House – a two-storey, 10-room boutique resort designed by Pritzker Prizewinning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban – aims to be a humanistic and spiritual place to reflect and restore energy, which in turn helps guests spark new ways of thinking. For instance, to make Shishi-Iwa House sanctuary-like, many existing trees in the area were conserved. The Grand Room, a shared social space, also has direct access to the garden.

shishi-iwa house

Situated in Karuizawa, a mountain resort town in Nagano prefecture, Japan, it’s popular with affluent Japanese as a vacation destination and is an hour by train from Tokyo. Ban blended all exterior and interior areas beyond the rooms to either allow the best views of the garden with its 250 trees or Mount Asama, or easy access to new discoveries (like understated, contemplative art dating back to the post-WWII Gutai period), new reads (its library has more than 200 recent titles in Japanese and English with a focus on architecture, design, the arts, drinks and food), and new connections (that depends on who you meet there).

Rates start from US$300 (S$410) a night for two people, including breakfast. Visit for more details.