Hiroshima: Submarine-Themed Guesthouse Opens in Kure; Guests Can Stay in Rooms Modelled After Actual Submarines

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maho Kojima, right, president of the company operating the Red Submarine guesthouse, and her father Mikio Taguchi, a former MSDF sub crew member

KURE, Hiroshima — A guesthouse designed to make guests feel like they are staying on a submarine opened in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. Kure, which was once called the greatest naval port in the East, is now home to a Maritime Self-Defense Force base.

The submarine-themed guesthouse “Red Submarine” features an interior carefully designed to recreate the inside of a submarine to the last detail, such as the light green- and gray-based color combinations, the exposed pipework and the stainless steel toilet typical of submarines. The unique purpose of the guesthouse is to allow guests to feel like crew members and experience life aboard a submarine.

Originally, the guesthouse in central Kure was a building that contained the long-established public bath “Akabiru Onsen” (Red building hot springs). Maho Kojima, 43, became the president of Akabiru 3C&Spa, the operator of the public bath, when she took over the family business in 2022. Aiming to revitalize the public bath facility, which was in danger of closing down, she decided to open a hotel.

Kojima’s father, Mikio Taguchi, 74, is a former submarine crew member of the MSDF. Following his advice on the interior design, she renovated a space of about 110 square meters on the fourth floor of the building and opened the Red Submarine on Dec. 8.

The guesthouse can accommodate up to 15 guests. There are five private rooms called the “Captain’s Private Quarters” each with a name taken from one of the five submarines that Taguchi crewed.

The dormitory-style shared bedroom was equipped with capsule hotel-like beds that resemble compact bunks used by crew members.

The shared room, called the “Ward Room,” is a cylindrical room with walls that round off to the ceiling. The color of the lights can be switched to red, creating the ambience of nighttime aboard a submarine.

When the front door is opened, a “side pipe” boatswain whistle sounds, alluding to the times of the former Japanese Imperial Navy, which in the same way welcomed boarding and disembarking crewmen.

“I think passionate submarine fans will love the guesthouse,” Kojima said.

Accommodation starts at ¥3,300 per person per night. Guests can use the public bath on the third floor free of charge.

Taguchi joined the MSDF in 1965 and was mainly stationed at Yokosuka Base. He crewed a total of seven submarines as either an executive officer or a weapons officer. At the guesthouse, he delivers a lecture on submarines for guests as a “captain” about once a week.

“I’d like to capitalize on submarines as a theme to help increase the number of overnight guests and give a boost to the city,” Kojima said.

Submarine and Kure

In Kure, there are other submarine-themed tourist attractions. For example, visitors can board a retired submarine at the JSMDF Kure Museum, while the Alley Karasu Kojima walkway offers close views of MSDF submarines. However, most of the tourists are day-trippers, and increasing the number of overnight guests is a challenge the city faces.