Although Kyoto is famous for its old wooden buildings and temples, the Shimpukan comes from a different part of the ancient city's architectural past. A handsome brick building on Karasuma Street in the center of the city, it was designed in 1926 by Tetsuro Yoshida, a modernist who had studied in Germany. Originally the Kyoto Central Telephone Company Building, the Shimpukan has been renovated and extended by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and forms part of a new 213-room Ace Hotel, the first opening in Japan for the Los Angeles-headquartered hotel brand.
"When we're looking for properties to house an Ace Hotel, we are always engaged by the history and lore that a potential site might hold," says Kelly Sawdon, Ace's chief brand officer. "Kengo Kuma is a longtime friend of Ace and has been sending us potential sites in Japan for years."