29/10/2020

Traditional Japanese Experience: A look at Ryokans in Kyoto

Experiencing a Ryokan is more than just the sleeping part; it encompasses the feel of a Japanese home. Traditionally or modern designed, Ryokans should be a part of your Kyoto trip. Know more about the famous Ryokans in Kyoto, how to book them and what you can expect to find.


Table of Contents

  1. Ryokans are part of the travel experience
  2. Ryokans in Kyoto
  3. Easily accessible ryokan in popular locations
  4. Summary

Ryokans are part of the travel experience

Japan is considered one of the prime tourist destinations in the whole world. Japan offers a multitude of exciting and unique experiences from breathtaking scenic landscapes and iconic tourist locations, and specifically in Kyoto, it offers a serene and peaceful place away from the usual hustle and bustles of city life. With everything that Japan and Kyoto have to offer, it also provides the ultimate Japan experience through Ryokans.

Ryokans are Japanese style inns, a traditional alternative to hotels or AirBnbs. It offers a unique glimpse into the simplistic and minimalistic style of Japanese culture, such as certain elements of the Japanese lifestyle, including using futons and tatami mats instead of a bed and kaiseki-ryouri - Japanese traditional course dinners. Since most Ryokans are located in hot spring areas, it also offers a uniquely Japanese experience with Japanese-style bathing and baths. Because of these unique experiences, many tourists visiting Japan consider staying in a Ryokan as part of the travel experience.  

Ryokans in Kyoto

Ryokans in Kyoto are considered to be extra special and unique because not only do they offer the best ryokan service in Japan, you’re already immersed in a traditional setting in Kyoto itself. Their traditional wooden architecture and private gardens are just incredible, and Japanese dishes are artfully served with only the freshest seasonal ingredients with the hospitable Kyoto service during your stay. Let’s take a look at some of the best ryokans that Kyoto has to offer.

Tawaraya 

Tawaraya is considered one of the best providers of excellent service and the oldest ryokans in Kyoto. It offers a deceptively simple and minimalist style of ryokan that reflects Japanese culture at its best. Each of the guest rooms of Tawaraya is artfully and purposefully decorated with pieces and home decor that complements the peaceful and serene landscape that Kyoto has to offer. 

What more is that each guest room has its own private garden where guests can reflect and meditate - a perfect opportunity to get away from the busy city life. Tawaraya is very popular where guests feel like royalty; it is frequented by celebrities and political figures who would want to relax and have a day away from their busy schedules.

If you visit Japan and want to experience the Japanese culture at its finest, make sure that you book a stay at Tawaraya. Booking a stay at Tawaraya can be a wee bit tricky as online booking reservations are not available. The primary way to book Tawaraya is to call their official landline number, send a fax, or send an inquiry through TripAdvisor. The average rate per person for Tawaraya ranges around 40,000 yen to 90,000 yen. The price includes two meals.

※ Japan Ryokan & Hotel Association, "Tawaraya Inn"

Hoshinoya

For those who want to have a peaceful getaway with a ryokan amidst the breathtaking scenic views of mountains and seascapes, Hoshinaya is the place to be! Hoshinoya is a secluded ryokan surrounded with majestic views of lush green hills, and it even has a melodic waterfall to boot! The Kyoto design's traditional composure on the woodwork at the Hoshinoya Pavilion was also preserved and restored, giving it the classic elegance at the resort. Having a peaceful weekend in Hoshinoya means enjoying nature at its finest with its serene and tranquil surroundings perfect for reflection and meditation. 

A pro-tip for foreigners is to book a stay in Hoshinoya during the cherry blossom season to witness the blooming of the famous effervescent trees growing at the Hoshinoya resorts ground. Those who want to escape the crowd but want to enjoy the scenery of the fully bloomed cherry trees outdoors, check the strategically planned cherry trees at the lavish garden within the hotel's park. Price per person ranges from 40,000 yen to 190,000 yen per night, depending on the peak season.

※ Hoshinoya Kyoto, "Rooms"

Kinse Inn 

Another famous and historic ryokan in Kyoto is the Kinse Inn, which has a fascinating history as this ryokan is already 200 years old! The Kinse Inn is a witness to several important historical events in Japan. It first served as an ageya or an elegant restaurant where Japanese geishas serve and entertaining prominent guests, and was then, later on, converted into a ryokan hosting guests and serving authentic and traditional Japanese food in the early 1990s, and eventually remodeled into a cafe and bar around 2012. 

The second floor of the Kinse Inn is used primarily to host guests who want to rest and experience a night in Kyoto's sleepy town. The first floor is a cafe and serves coffee and Japanese pastries. You can only book at Kinse Inn via AirBnB and costs around 10,000 yen per night per person. Of course, the prices vary depending on the host's set amount, and there might be additional charges like cleaning and service fees.

Kinse Ryokan Inn

Matsubaya Ryokan 

Matsubaya Ryokan offers an exciting mix between traditional Japanese culture and aesthetics, with a modern twist. The well-kept rooms of Matsuba ryokan have hosted a plethora of guests, ranging from Buddhist priests, students to tourists. The diverse group it attracts blends traditional wood-style Japanese architecture with a more modern aesthetic of the furniture and home decor designs. The strategic location of Matsubaya, being a few blocks away from the Kyoto station, makes it popular for guests looking for a non-smoking room and comfortable stay. 

The single room that can accommodate six tatami mats ranges from 16,000 yen to 18,000 yen per person. The double room that can accommodate eight tatami mats ranges from 18,000 to 30,000 yen per person per night. Costs include consumption and accommodation taxes. If you are traveling with kids that are under three years old are free of charge. However, please note that Matsubaya does not serve dinner. 

Matsubaya Ryokan

Easily accessible ryokan in popular locations

To make your travel in Japan easier, it is best to book a ryokan near the tourist places you want to visit in Kyoto. Here are a couple of ryokans worth checking that are near popular tourist destinations in Kyoto. Save your travel time by booking your accommodation at the nearest destination!

  1. Hiiragiya Bekkan Annex - The Hiiragiya Bekkan Annex is a beautiful traditional ryokan that hosted several prominent figures in Japan such as royals, celebrities, and politicians. It boasts impeccable and elegant home decor that was chosen and maintained with care throughout the existence of Hiiragiya Bekkan Annex. Nearby Kyoto landmarks are Nishiki Market and Kawaramachi. The nearest train station is the Shiyakusho-Mae Station.

  2. Hatanaka Kyoto - This ryokan is located right smack in the middle of Gion, which is considered as Kyoto’s central business district, which is perfect for tourists who would want to experience Gion at its finest. Hatanaka Kyoto offers a public bath experience and serene gardens perfect for sightseeing. It is nearby famous Kyoto landmarks such as the Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu-Dera temple. The nearest train station is the Gion Station.

  3. Seikoro Ryokan - The Seikoro Ryokan offers a mix of wooden traditional Japan and elegant modern furniture. Its most prominent feature is the wooden bathtubs and it also boasts of excellent spa services.  Seikoro Ryokan also offers a sumptuous western-style breakfast and an authentic Japanese dinner. Nearby landmarks for this ryokan are the Sanjusangen-do Temple, Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, and Kyoto National Museum.

Summary

Kyoto Ryokans offer the best that Japan has to offer. It provides a rare glimpse of the Japanese culture through its traditional architecture and home decor (including futons and tatami mats). If you visit Japan, especially in Kyoto, make sure that you book any of the ryokans mentioned above to complete your authentic Japanese travel experience. It's worth the experience not to be missed, the Japanese hospitality and the service!

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