Kataoka Hot Spring

Bath facility at the core of AQUAIGNIS

2012@Komono, Mie Prefecture

The Kataoka Hot Spring is a bath facility at the core of AQUAIGNIS, a commercial complex that opened in 2012 in the city of Komono in Mie Prefecture. The AQUAIGNIS project originally started out as a project to relocate the former Kataoka Hot Spring due to the construction of the expressway. The former Kataoka Hot Spring was cherished by the local people like a public bath. The challenge of this project was how to strike a balance between that local familiarity and the new customer base who comes seeking for exquisite cuisine made by celebrated chefs.

Bamboo grove bath. Photos by Shigeta Satoshi (all of this page)


At the time we joined this project, the basic design of the bath facility was already finished, and my role was to reconstruct the concept and subsequent processes with minimal changes to the building shape and structure. Here, I decided to orient the continuity with the restaurant buildings that are uniquely different by using the Garden of Fire and Water as the medium. First, I created a deep approach and completed the façade with vertically long eaves and horizontally long bay display windows. Using those details as clues, I pursued a sharp expression that generates affinity with the water basin.

Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall is expansive. It is a delightful space with sporadically placed focal points. We aimed for a design that tells a story through an organic relationship from details to the entirety, using the volume of the approach and the reception counter as the medium.

Lights and bench: Naoko Hirota / Art: MAI MIYAKE


The shop was established in a style where its boundary with the Entrance Hall is blurred. The bay windows that make up part of the façade are used as an exhibition space by the shop.

Facilities Inside the Building

We focused on materials that evoke sensation, such as textured-finish floors, partitions made of uneven glass, and blocks used for the counter, all of which to help visitors feel comfortable after taking a bath.

Textured-finish floor (now Kasa An)
Massage parlor (now-defunct)
Library (now-defunct)

Resting Space

At the end of the hallway continuing from the main entrance, you can see a large noren (short, split curtain) at the entrance to the baths. Along that corridor, we set up an open resting space. Mechanical noise should be shut out as much as possible when people are resting and relaxing after taking a bath. This way we created a meditative space with carefully designed facilities.

You can see the noren to the baths at the end of the hallway

Sofa and benches: Taiji Fujimori / Koloro-desks: TORAFU / Noren and artwork: MAI MIYAKE / Plates: Tomoya Akasaka

Bamboo Grove Bath

We set the bamboo grove to the center of the image. A bamboo grove passes sunlight well and therefore is unlikely to create a shady impression even when the bamboo is densely planted to hide the view. It also keeps the area breezy and has a seasonal taste. There are three types of outdoor baths. Visitors walk into the bamboo grove for the sleeping bath and the wood tub bath. Such experiences can also be quite enjoyable.

Bamboo grove bath
Pouring hot water on the body in front of the bamboo grove bath
Outdoor bath
Indoor bath
Washing area
Wood tub bath
Sleeping bath
Hot spring bubbling up