Ryo Kan in México’s 'Little Tokyo CDMX' is the first Ryokan in Latin America.
What is a Ryokan? It’s a traditional Japanese Inn featuring tatami-matted rooms, communal paths and other common areas where guests can relate and unwind in a traditional yukata. If you have had the pleasure of staying at a Ryokan in Japan, many feature beautifully prepared traditional lunch and dinner meals.
Multidisciplinary creative studio led by Mexican Architect Regina Galvanduque, GLVDK, sees Ryo Kan as a new concept that blends the elements of traditional Japanese lifestyle while retaining the roots of Mexican culture. Though Ryo Kan MX is the first hospitality concept by GLVDK in México City, the studio has numerous international projects in its repertoire, including “Antojeria Popular” in NYC’s Nolita neighbourhood.
The façade, designed to evoke origami paper folds, prepares you to enter the serenity of the ryokan’s space. Inside, natural materials and textures (Mexican in origin) offer the perfect backdrop for a Japanese garden, an open library, and a beautiful welcome area.
The main lobby features a triple height central common area, where nautical strings are used to create an installation evoking the repetition and feeling of nifty, found in the bamboo forests of Kyoto.
A minimalist storage system lines one side of the wall, featuring art made of up-cycled materials that have been transformed into simple organic volumes. A light, clean aesthetic is portrayed throughout the ryokan, where the shadows play and dance throughout the day.
Among Ryo Kan’s amenities, inspired by different elements of Japanese lifestyle and culture, are a zen garden, a cozy library,
a terrace with four onsen—classic traditional Japanese baths—and a complete spa for face and body treatments.
The onsen are a perfect way to experience how the Japanese relax, as visitors near and far travel to Japan just for a deep soak in one of the nation’s traditional onsens.
Ryo Kan features 10 rooms with a mix of traditional Tatami rooms and Western rooms, where the beds are designed based on the tatami’s configuration. The architect’s idea was to extrude this grid with custom made screened wood, inspired by the "halabche" or braiding of vines found in Mayan homes, which together with the coloches or vertical rods form a knotted grid with vegetable fibers , that give shape to the walls or pak lum. This structure allows for the creation of a thermal barrier, preserving the freshness inside the Mayan dwellings.
Pay close attention, and you will notice the parallels between two culture’s traditions featured in Ryo Kan’s design.
The use of sliding doors in Japan, rice paper wooden sliding doors representing the transition between the outside and inside worlds, is mirrored by Mayan houses in Mexico, which use guano or vacate to cover the main entrance and invite visitors to bow their heads as a sign of respect.
Also, it has been a common practice for generations in both cultures to sleep on the floor, the Japanese on oriental tatamis, and townspeople in places such as Oaxaca over natural handwoven materials.
True to the Japanese way of paying meticulous attention to detail, the selection of finishes and materials were thoughtful, resulting in a zen space where the concept of wabi-sabi comes to life.
The concrete, ceramics, textiles (ropes, blankets, wool, tatami) and Bejucos are all handmade, whereas the Terrazos have been custom made in collaboration with Andres Mier y Teran.
Total consideration of the guest experience led to a collaboration with Yucatan Senses to design custom made packaging and aromas for the amenities. Every one of your five sensory experiences is considered in Ryo Kan hospitality experience. Where the world is becoming ever-faster and change happens at light speed, a stay at Ryo Kan invites you to slow down, take a breath, and forget about all the hustle and bustle beyond the sliding room door.
If you are dining at Ryo Kan, pay close attention to the white ceramic tableware custom made in Puebla, which feature monochromatic Japanese landscapes. As you retire to your room and change into your Japanese Yucatan, note that these have also been handmade with care using Mexican textiles by Mexican hands.
Each and every element has a story, and if you are able to truly unwind and detach from your daily stressors in work and life on your visit to Ryo Kan, you will find ample time to discover these thoughtful details.