Kyoto’s traditional houses, “machiya,” are appealing lodging facilities that offer a different lodging style compared to hotels and ryokan. Staying in a building that still has traces of ancient Japan and feeling like you’re actually living there is extremely popular. Here are 4 particularly recommended machiya.
Suoan, a renovated machiya built in the Taisho era (1912-1926) has retained its original elegant appearance with the addition of running water in the stylish kitchen and bathroom so guests can have a comfortable stay. The scarlet themed rooms and the high-ceilinged bedroom with antique beams are just like the designs you would find in a classy hotel. A maximum of 6 people can make reservations to stay in the house so it’s recommended for groups. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the subway Shijo Station, making it appealing as a convenient location when sightseeing. You can enjoy your stay there in Kyoto to your heart’s content.
2. Machiyado Matsumura
the modern furnishings and implements, the atmosphere of the building is exceptional. You can gaze at the carefully tended gardens from the spacious guest rooms. The lodgings are limited to 1 day for 2 groups so it’s perfect for those who want to leisurely enjoy their stay at a machiya. Fushimi, where Machiyado Matsumura is located, is an area that still has strong historical traces from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji Restoration (1853 - 1870). Even now, it still has many wine cellars and old streets remaining, giving it a reputation as one of Japan’s leading alcohol districts. While strolling through the streets of Fushimi you are surrounded by wine cellars and scarlet torii (shrine archways) that branch out like tunnels, making it a recommended place for those who want to experience a Kyoto that is a bit different from the usual.
2. Machiyado Matsumura
3. Guesthouse Kingyoya
Standing in a corner of Kyoto’s Nishijin district, the area where Kyoto’s dyed textile Nishijin-ori prospers, is the Guesthouse Kingyoya. Once you pass through the entrance, the retro space that greets you makes it seem like time has stopped completely. As one would expect from a guest house, one of the features of this residence is its many shared spaces. There are several room types ranging from private to dormitory-style. Although you can choose to lodge without meals, you should definitely try the breakfast made with home-cooked rice and dishes that make the most of the natural flavors of its ingredients! It is a healthy menu where you can experience the goodness of traditional Japanese cooking. Despite being a little distant from the heart of Kyoto’s sightseeing area, Nishijin’s stone-paved streets are brimming with the essence of Kyoto and there are textile studios, other machiya that have been remodeled into cafes, gallery shops and much more, making it a recommended place for enjoying a stroll through the town.
4. Kaichi Anzu-an
Kawaramachi, etc. are located within walking distance from Kaichi Anzu-an. It has the facade of the old capital’s traditional machiya along with yukimishoji (a type of sliding paper door where the bottom has a glass insert so you can see outside), wickerwork ceilings (ceilings where laminated reeds, bamboo, Japanese cedar and Japanese cypress are layered together giving the appearance of hand-weaving) and more. Despite it’s appearance of a traditional Japanese machiya, in order for guests to have a comfortable stay, many additions have been skilfully included in the building so that there’s a good balance of Japanese and Western elements. There is a round table in the Western style living room on the 1st floor so you can relax and savor the out-of-the-ordinary space while gazing at the courtyard garden. Up to 4 people can reserve the house at one time so it’s recommended for those who want to comfortably spend some quality time.
Machiya have become the cornerstones of the modern streets of Kyoto. Recently, there has been an increase in shops and cafes made from remodeled machiya, which have also increased the chances of setting foot inside these machiya. In spite of that, being able to spend the night in one feels even more special. Your stay at a machiya is sure to create unforgettable memories of your trip. Be sure to try it out.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.