All About Japan

Pay to Stay at a Real Japanese Juvenile Prison

Cafés Bars Handicrafts Accommodation Hotels Nara Kansai

There’s a new type of accommodation facility that’s got everyone talking around the country, as guests will soon be able to stay the night on the grounds of the Nara Juvenile Prison. The prison itself, which housed over 700 minors who committed serious offenses, closed down on March 31, 2017, but has opened its doors to guests.

Built in 1908, the prison complex has been designated an important cultural asset, with its unusual design and red brick construction making it a popular tourist spot for visitors. Ahead of the March closure, the Justice Ministry announced that it was offering companies the opportunity to come forth with plans to help convert the facility into a hotel, and now it’s been revealed that several big names in the business are now on board with the project.

Tentatively dubbed the “HISTERRACE Nara Project“, the main player involved is Japan’s Solare Hotels & Resorts Co., Ltd., which will oversee the entire operation, including the rollout of the hotel facility, restaurants and public relations for the business. Other big companies like Shimizu Corporation and Tokyu Company will be involved in the construction, while Muji will be setting up their Muji Hostel brand on the premises, offering approximately 60 beds in brand new buildings with simple dormitory-type accommodation.

Muji will also hold art and traditional crafts workshops near the dormitory, along with running a café and bar, with all their buildings featuring the sleek, minimal designs the brand has become well known for. There’ll also be expansive views of the red-brick prison facility buildings from their site too.

Inside the actual prison will be the hotel run by Solare, who’s giving their new accommodation facility the tentative title of “Soramitsu Nara.“ The hotel will retain one wing of the prison for preservation purposes, while renovating the four other wings, offering about 150 rooms in total. These rooms will retain the same prison cell construction while upgrading the ambiance with modern lighting and furnishings for a much more comfortable and luxurious stay.

According to those involved in the project, the new accommodation facilities at the former Nara Juvenile Prison aim to preserve its historical heritage, with a focus on promoting the “living history” of the buildings. It’s certainly one of the most fascinating places to stay in Japan, and with the hotel and dormitory set to open in the 2020 fiscal year, we’ve got our fingers crossed for it to be completed by the time the summer Olympic Games are held in Tokyo.

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