Renewing Kyoto Sightseeing for the Age of Sustainability! Facilities Working Towards the SDGs and Kyoto City's Project
"SDGs " – the word seems to be everywhere these days. We see them and hear about them all the time, although some of us may feel like we don't actually know what exactly it's all about. But in fact, our lives are already linked to the SDGs in various ways.
First of all, what are the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)? This time we will be looking into their content as well as facilities drawing attention, such as GOOD NATURE STATION and Ace Hotel Kyoto, and Kyoto City's project in action.
There are SDGs that you can easily take the initiative by yourself, and some that you may find that you have "unknowingly" been practicing through the hotels or restaurants you go to. Please take this opportunity to learn about the SDGs and think about how you can participate in them.
1. What are the "SDGs" about?
SDGs stands for "Sustainable Development Goals." They are goals that were set by the United Nations at the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit, upholding seventeen goals that are aimed to be achieved between 2016 to 2030.
The seventeen goals cover diverse subjects, including goals related to environmental themes, such as "SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES" and "CLIMATE ACTION," to themes that are recently drawing attention in Japan such as "GENDER EQUALITY" and "DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH."
Nowadays, an increasing number of private businesses have been responding to the call, so many of you have probably heard of the word and may even have taken part in it before you knew it. Now, let's have a look at the actions that Kyoto City has taken.
2. Leading to achieve SDGs in Japan – Kyoto City’s projects
Kyoto City has been taking top initiatives in promoting the SDGs, incorporating the SDGs' principles into projects in diverse fields, including the City's Master Plan that will be implemented over five years starting from 2021. In January 2019, The Nikkei (a Japanese newspaper company) announced its survey of the local governments' SDGs benchmarks, and among them, Kyoto ranked No.1, and No.2 for the following survey announced in January 2021!
One example of Kyoto City's projects is the "My Bottle Recommended Shops" campaign. Aiming to switch to a "lifestyle that takes good care of things" while encouraging and supporting "cutting down on the amount of waste" generated by one-time-use plastic items such as plastic bottles, shops that accept customers using their own bottles or mugs are registered and advertised through the campaign website.
Not only do these shops accept personal bottles, but some also offer washing services or sell reusable bottles. Furthermore, you may be able to reduce trash and gain profit at the same time at shops that provide discounts for using your own bottle.
In order to encourage people to take their "My Bottle" on the go, Kyoto City has set "Water Supply Spots" that provide drinking water in the city. The project's website (Japanese) provides an online map of Water Supply Spots and My Bottle Recommended Shops.
3. A "sustainable" commercial complex – GOOD NATURE STATION
Now let's take a look at the actions taken in facilities in Kyoto City. GOOD NATURE STATION, opened at Shijo Kawaramachi (downtown Kyoto) in December 2019, is a commercial complex facility composed of a grocery shop & deli (MARKET), original cosmetics & concept shops, restaurants and a hotel accommodation.
The services and products provided here are selected upon the standards of "whether they are GOOD for the body, soul, community, society and the Earth." The complex is now a much-talked-about place that introduces lifestyle concepts that contribute to a sustainable society.
Here are some of the practical measures taken:
Let's start with the MARKET on the first floor. Here, foods that are good for both your health and the planet, such as certified organic vegetables and fruit, are sold. They cater a wide range of items including "natural wine" produced through more natural and eco-friendly ways, making the place delightful to the body and planet.
The sustainable approaches taken here are diverse. For example, normally discarded ingredients parts such as the cacao husks are used in their curry recipe, the food waste generated in the facility is used to make compost, and the containers for take-outs are made of paper (instead of plastic).
The items in the guest rooms of the hotel, on the fourth to ninth floors, are also selected with careful consideration. Organic cacao tea, petroleum-free shampoo made of botanical ingredients and 100% organic cotton towels are among the items that are chosen for the guests’ comfort.
Also, as part of efforts to conserve the natural environment, one-time-use toiletries are not available. They don't have disposable plastic hairbrushes, shavers or toothbrushes. If there is a request, they do give bamboo toothbrushes to guests.
Another essential feature of the facility is that the building is WELL Building Standard® Gold Certified as a building made with consideration to the environment and health, and the LEED Silver Certification as an eco-friendly "green building."
GOOD NATURE HOTEL was the first in the world to be certified according to the WELL Certification standards for hotels. The list of criteria ranged from over one hundred categories. The "safe and clean space" designed with attention to pandemic countermeasures, the "beautiful and soul-nourishing design" incorporating Japanese and Kyoto features, and "the volume of spaces with the presence of greenery or nature " such as the large green-covered walls, were among the reasons of the high evaluation.
This facility is likely to continue to inspire people to have lifestyles that are considerate of the "body, soul, community, society and the Earth" through the services and products they provide.
GOOD NATURE STATION
Address: Inari-cho, Shijo Kawaramachi-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City 600-8022
Access: 2-min walk from Hankyu Railway Kyoto Kawaramachi Station
4. Historical building renewed! Ace Hotel Kyoto's initiatives
One more place we'd like to introduce you to is the Ace Hotel Kyoto that opened in the central part of Kyoto City around Karasuma Oike in June 2020. It has been in the spotlight as the first of the Seatle-based Ace Hotel in Japan, and is located in the commercial complex Shinpukan that has reopened after a four-year-long renewal project.
The building of Shinpukan, the former Kyoto Central Telephone Office originally designed by Tetsuro Yoshida, was the first Registered Cultural Property designated by Kyoto City. Shinpukan, created by the renovation project of the historical building, hopes to become a new cultural landmark of the city under the concept of "becoming an interactive link to this town." The renovation project and Shinpukan's concept themselves seem relevant to the SDGs.
Now, let's have a look at the actual practices taken. First, the hotel guestrooms have eco-friendly paper water packs instead of plastic bottles. It may seem like a trivial detail, but this is also a part of the progressive environment-minded measures.
Also, all the toiletries are kept to the minimum required. The toothbrushes are made of bamboo instead of plastic.
The hotel also has stylish restaurants and cafés. The PIOPIKO Margarita, served at the Mexican restaurant PIOPIKO, is also a part of the sustainability strategy.
This cocktail uses lime juice extracted from the lime peels and pith after the fruit juice has been pressed out. Also, wine that has become too oxidized to be served to guests is used for "up-cycle cocktails," renewing its flavor with fruit peels, herbs and spices, reducing the amount of waste generated from the hotel.
If you do go to Ace Hotel Kyoto, don't forget to check out the stunning designs behind the Stumptown Coffee Roasters' counter, using the test panels from the kiln of a Shigaraki pottery studio.
The new star of the global hotel industry, Ace Hotel Kyoto – Its fascinating features can be enjoyed not only as a hotel, but even by just by going to its restaurants and cafés. We look forward to the ongoing progress of their sustainability-sensitive practices.
Ace Hotel Kyoto
Address: (In the Shinpukan Building) 245-2 Kurumaya-cho, Aneyakoji-dori Higashinotoin-nishiiru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City 604-8185
Access: Kyoto City Subways Karasuma and Tozai Lines: Karasuma Oike Station
In this article, we introduced you to Kyoto City’s SDGs projects, and hotels and commercial complexes having concepts that are targeting the SDGs.
While the SDGs are large scale agendas that need to be addressed at a global level, it is also important that we as individuals participate in them by taking small steps in our own ways such as taking our own bottle to shops and finding other ways to reduce waste.