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Harmony in Hospitality: Unveiling Shinsho-An's Nature-Infused Sustainability


Shinsho-An x Giving Bag Interview:


Shinsho-an is a true boutique gem, located in front of the gates of Nanzenji, a prestigious Zen Buddhist temple situated in a quiet area of Okazaki, Kyoto. The hotel is constructed with carefully selected timber that comes from only wood grown in the natural world over great lengths of time, chosen by seasoned connoisseurs. “A stay inside this hotel heals with the scent of wood and immerses you in a mysterious sense of peace and tranquility.”



We've had the honor of working directly with Shinsho-an since 2018, playing a role in their sustainability initiatives through their usage of Giving Bag. Shinsho-an sells the items donated by guests in Giving Bags and donates the profits to a local charity.


We had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner of Shinsho-an, to explore their unique sustainability initiatives, plans for the future, and how they incorporate Giving Bag into their hotel.


Joel @ Giving Bag:

Tell us about some of the different sustainability initiatives Shinsho-an takes?


Shinsho-an Owner:

The guest rooms are constructed with authentic natural longstanding materials. These include natural wood, earthen walls, paper (fusumas and shojis), stones, and pottery. The high-quality wood in the rooms is carefully polished with cloth every day. By giving care to maintenance, the materials become more significant over time, and continue to increase in beauty. HANARE, the Japanese-style room in our garden was built in 1966. It holds a unique appeal different from the newly constructed main building, a product of beauty from years of maintenance. The earthen walls absorb or output moisture depending on the humidity, and create natural patterns with time. The symbol of sustainability at Shinsho-an is the staff and craftsmen who provide caring maintenance for beautiful Japanese houses to last.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

Can you explain why these initiatives are important to the hotel guests, brand, and employees?


Shinsho-an Owner:

We thrive to be what reminds you of the excellence and importance of nature and sustainability. By coming in touch with the rare wood that structure the rooms, experiencing their calming scent, feeling the breeze from the garden and the chirping of the birds, we hope you will be set free from the constant bustling that is everyday life. This applies not only to our guests, but our staff as well. Something only possible due to having only four rooms. The brand goal of Shinsho-an is to be a part in passing on the traditional Japanese sense of beauty and mentality to the next generation.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

How long has sustainability been a core priority of the hotel?


Shinsho-an Owner:

Ever since 2018, when the project for this hotel started. The authentic materials in which this hotel was built were chosen by consulting the best craftsmen.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

Are there any challenges that you face incorporating all of these initiatives?


Shinsho-an Owner:

Fortunately, there are none at the moment.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

How long have you been using Giving Bag?


Shinsho-an Owner:

For a year now.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

How does Giving Bag help Shinsho-an achieve your CSR goals?

Shinsho-an Owner:

We plan on selling the items which were generously given through the Giving Bags on the free market, and donating the profits.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

How has Giving Bag had a positive impact on the hotel and the guests?


Shinsho-an Owner:

Our guests and staff all approve of efforts to avoid throwing away items that can still be used. We hear frequent praises regarding the idea of Giving Bag.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

Can you speak on some of the different items people have donated with Giving Bag?


Shinsho-an Owner:

A Goshuin book. This refers to a notebook in which Goshuin (stamps and characters) are pushed primarily at a temple or shrine as a sign that you have visited. An item I believe is exclusive to Kyoto.


Joel @ Giving Bag:

How did you choose your Giving Bag charity partner, what is their relationship with the local community?


Shinsho-an Owner:

We are currently in talks with Hands On Tokyo. We also have connections with the Kyoto Prefectura Social Welfare Center, and are donating used amenities. We believe Giving Bag can be involved here as well.


Joel @ Giving Bag:

Are there any specific goals Shinsho-an has for the future?


Shinsho-an Owner:

The goal of Shinsho-an is to become more connected with the local area, and be a part of passing down the sense of Japanese beauty and mentality of cherishing Japanese-style to the next generation.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

How do you measure the success of your sustainability initiatives?


Shinsho-an Owner:

Though this may take time, we believe that efforts to sustain a small four room hotel like Shinsho-an will spread and lead to a major change. Also, by proactively taking part in large regional community activities, we can contribute to success in sustainability.


Joel @ Giving Bag:

What other sites do you recommend travelers to see when in Kyoto?


Shinsho-an Owner:

Famous temples, shrines, and historical sights are a must go, but we also recommend art museums and galleries. There are many galleries that have been reconstructed from traditional Japanese houses, in which you can enjoy a harmonization with art exclusive to Kyoto.

Joel @ Giving Bag:

What is your favorite part of Shinsho-an?


Shinsho-an Owner:

The guest rooms being full of nature represent the theme of Shinsho-an. The sweet scent of the wood, the calming warmth they provide, the energy the natural materials hold, the trees in the garden that undergo change with the seasons, the wind that carries the scent of the trees, the singing of the birds, and the relaxing furniture. All of the above are why the guest rooms are my favorite part of Shinsho-an.


We look forward to seeing Shinsho-an continue making a positive impact in the community. To learn more about Shinsho-an social responsibility initiatives, check out Shinsho-an’s Commitment to the SDGs.

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