Cruises have a reputation to be all gas and no breaks. Guntu, a one-of-a-kind lodging and gourmet experience, designed a getaway on the opposite end of that spectrum. After its maiden voyage in 2017, Guntu (stylized as gūntu) became a bucket-list-worthy Japan experience, with resounding accolades from notable publications Time, Condé Nast Traveller, Bloomberg and more.
A Floating Japanese Inn
Japanese architect Yasushi Horibe, whose works mainly include houses and living spaces, is the mind behind Guntu’s sleek and contemporary look. Working with high-grade materials, he created a refreshing and relaxing environment designed to complement the Seto Inland Sea’s blue hues, making the walk aboard Guntu feel less like embarking on a cruise and more akin to entering a luxury ryokan.
Horibe’s signature wood paneling, which meanders throughout Guntu’s shared spaces, continues inside the guestrooms. The venue’s capacity is maxed at 38 people. There are 19 suites, all with private terraces and a view of the surrounding sea. Middle to high-end suites also offer sumptuous open-air baths for guests to enjoy. The premium Guntu Suite room, of which there is only one, is the only guestroom with a front-facing view. All rooms come with a full set of amenities, a Bluetooth speaker, a writing desk and a sofa.
Gastronomy for the Soul
Some of our most important conversations and tender memories revolve around food, so it’s only natural that cuisine is at the top of Guntu’s priorities. Their culinary motto says it all: “Enjoy what you want, as much as you want.”
If you’re craving local seafood, allow the chef to introduce his skills using the catch of the day. Select your favorite ingredients and choose how you would like them prepared. For sashimi, head to the sushi bar where you can dine on the ocean’s bounty to your heart’s content. The dishes offered are overseen by Nobuo Sakamoto of prestigious restaurant Nobu in Awajishima. Alternatively, you might be feeling in the mood for Western-inspired cuisine. Guntu also offers ample choice here. These comforting dishes will delight your taste buds just as they will soothe the soul. It’s even possible to order small portions of Western-style dishes alongside Japanese bites.
If you’re feeling peckish, nibble on some otsumami and sake at Engawa, where you can sit and contemplate with a view of the Seton Inland Sea. If you would rather settle down and cozy up, the Lounge might be a better fit. Here you can order freshly brewed Japanese tea served with wagashi. And don’t be shy to visit wearing your yukata, provided inside your guestroom. Finally, there is the Café & Bar, where you can quench your thirst with a variety of caffeinated drinks during the day and original cocktails at night under Guntu’s unique gable roof.
Dive into Mindfulness
While you could certainly lounge in your private quarters all day and still experience the epitome of luxury, Guntu boasts a multitude of wellness facilities for guests to use while on board. The spa on the second deck boasts outdoor hinoki (cypress) baths, day beds to enjoy the sun and breeze, as well as two saunas. Workout fiends need not pause their routines, as the boat also has a fully furnished gym. Yogis are also welcome to come to do their sun salutations on the deck in the mornings. For more rejuvenation, book one of the soothing treatments offered at the spa. Our recommendation is the Japanese-style nentai massage, a course created exclusively for Guntu. This deep-tissue massage is designed to relieve muscle tension and built-up stress.
Discover Your Setouchi
Once on board, the activity options are virtually limitless, but your personalized experience begins when booking your voyage. Choose from over a dozen itineraries, categorized into Eastward, Central and Westward routes. Guests are encouraged to select the route that best suits their interests and schedule, as they offer different off-ship activities and sights. All trips begin and end at Bella Vista Marina in Onomichi, Hiroshima.
Westward routes are best recommended for those interested in navigating the Seto Inland Sea as people did in centuries past. In most proposed itineraries, the boat cruises past Miyajima, Kurahashijima and Kutsuna islands.
Central routes offer a closer look at some of the more clustered island areas in the Seto Inland Sea. Roam between Kami-Kamagarijima and Osaki-Kamijima, nestled between the shores of Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures.
Eastern routes offer more options to get closer to nature as well as some of the region’s most iconic sights. Pass under the Great Seto Bridge and explore Honjima, where you can discover traditional architecture built by Shiwaku carpenters, or explore the unique mix of art and agriculture on Shodoshima.
Setouchi being an area rich in art and culture, it is natural for Guntu to also offer three routes that make island-hopping smooth and enriching, whether you’re eager to see some of the area’s iconic works of art or want to try your hand at local handicrafts.
If you’re struggling to choose between two routes, five-day combination plans can also be booked during which guests can create their dream cruise. Those who might not want to be tied down by a schedule should opt for Guntu’s drafting option. This route includes fewer planned off-ship activities so you can leisurely follow your every whim.
All of Guntu’s rates include meals and drinks on board, activities as well as a pick-up service to and from Hiroshima Airport or Fukuyama Station. For more information on Guntu and to book a stay, visit the official website.