Japan’s Oldest Prison Building to Reopen in 2026 as Luxury Hotel with Adjacent Museum

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Former Nara Prison, one of Japan’s oldest penal institutions and significant cultural properties, is set to reopen in spring 2026 as a luxurious hotel under the management of Hoshino Resorts. Renamed as HOSHINOYA Nara Prison, the hotel will offer guests the opportunity to stay in the historic jail and experience its renowned red brick architecture with upgraded interiors. Hoshino Resorts has recently provided updates on the transformation of this historic prison building into a high-end hotel.

Resort company Azuma Architect & Associates will oversee the redesign of the former Nara Prison. According to Hoshino Resorts, the hotel will feature 48 rooms and a museum open to the public during the day. The museum will showcase archival exhibitions, allowing visitors and hotel guests to learn about the prison’s history and facilities.

While the design plans have not yet been revealed, the opening of HOSHINOYA Nara Prison in 2026 aims to set a new standard in Japan’s hotel industry by preserving the cultural significance and history of the former prison.

Before its transformation into a luxury hotel, HOSHINOYA Nara Prison was recognized as one of the oldest prison buildings in Japan and the prefecture for over a century. Its architectural and historical significance led to its designation as an important cultural property of Japan in February 2017, symbolizing the modernization of confinement facilities in the country.

The former Nara Prison features prison cells that will serve as guest bedrooms, along with a central guard tower overlooking radial wings of cells. Refitted by Azuma Architect & Associates, the prison will retain its original Havilland system, which remains a quintessential model of Japan’s modern prison design. The design team plans to maintain the red brick structure while adapting it for hospitality purposes.

Designed by Keijiro Yamashita, a public worker for the Ministry of Law, Nara Prison was constructed and opened in July 1908 during the Meiji era. It quickly gained recognition as one of the Meiji Five Great Prisons. The goal for HOSHINOYA Nara Prison in 2026 is to reclaim this prestigious title within the hotel industry.

HOSHINOYA Nara Prison is located at 18 Hannyaji-cho, Nara, Japan, and is being developed by Hoshino Resorts. The site spans an area of 100,478.80 square meters, including the adjoining museum.

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