Imagine the minimalist ryokan of your dreams, then make it float. That is guntû, a luxury inn set on a boat that explores Setouchi, with its 700 islands and 7,000 kilometres of coastline. There are just 14 suites, each one panelled in wood and boasting a terrace just above the waterline. Some even have an open-air bath.
On board, there’s a spa, sushi bar, restaurant, cafe and even a lounge where tea ceremonies are performed. The top deck is designed to be a single living area, but many guests choose to watch the passing islands and boats from their private balconies.
During the day, guests are whisked by speedboat to places rarely visited by tourists. Guntû departs Onomichi City on one of 10 different routes – the four-day eastward journey is a favourite with culture vultures because it visits the art island of Naoshima.
Prices start at about $US4,000 a person, all-inclusive, for a two-night cruise.