by TOBY SKINNER June 27, 2019
This 19-cabin ship is a floating ryokan.
In Japanese, the term ma translates roughly as a gap, a space, a pause. But it doesn’t refer to nothingness; instead, it’s an emptiness that’s full of possibility and ripe for interpretation. Ma has long been part of Japanese design culture, from 11th-century Zen gardens through the postwar architecture of Tadao Ando, whose concrete buildings have been compared to haiku, with the empty space as important as the thing itself.
Now, ma can be found on the sea in the form of Guntû, a game-changing 19-cabin ship designed by Tokyo-based Ando disciple Yasushi Horibe to be a floating ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. In this version of ma, a ribbon staircase from a pure-white lobby leads to calmingly minimalist spaces, clean-lined sashimi counters, and cuboid hot baths, with rooms in light alderwood and ash.
Drifting through the Seto Inland Sea, with its 3,000 tiny islands, a Guntû cruise is a neutral-palette pause: a way to tune out, reflect, and find new meaning. From $2,260 per night, based on double occupancy, including meals and activities.