First hotel near World Heritage Horyuji temple hopes to lure foreign guests


Waqoo Horyuji is hoping to attract more foreign guests now that it has opened as the first hotel built in the vicinity of Horyuji, a World Heritage Buddhist temple in the prefecture of Nara.

The hotel operator, Waqoo Project Co., said it expects foreign customers initially to account for about half of its overall guests, but it is aiming for the percentage to rise to around 60 or 70 percent eventually.

Waqoo Horyuji, in the town of Ikaruga, offers cultural events to attract foreign visitors, such as tea ceremony, calligraphy and flower arrangement.

The hotel is made up of two buildings, Toho Kan and Saiho Kan, and has 60 rooms capable of accommodating up to 140 guests. Rates start at ¥18,500 ($170) per night, including two meals.

Nara is known for tourist attractions such as Nara Park (home to more than 1,000 wild deer), Todaiji temple, as well as Horyuji — built by Prince Shotoku more than 1,300 years ago and regarded as the world’s oldest surviving wooden structure.

But the relative scarcity of accommodations in the prefecture means most visitors are only able to make day trips to the area.

The town relaxed land-use regulations in 2014, which allowed the building of hotels around Horyuji.