Matsui House Facade
Today we have a guest post from Lucinda Cowing.
Looking for an authentic, conveniently-located, quiet Kyoto accommodation? Travelling on a budget?
The Matsui House is a 100 year-old machiya townhouse in Nishijin, the old textile district of Kyoto. It is the family home of Mrs Matsui, who resides there with her husband. The house was previously a workshop for making kimono and obi (Mrs Matsui tells me the pieces she inherited, sadly, were sold long ago to the Boston Museum of Art). With the decline in the demand for kimono beginning in the post-war era, the weaving industry here has consequently suffered a huge decline, and the sounds of the looms no longer reverberate through the streets as Mrs Matsui recalls well. The Nishijin neighbourhood nonetheless remains one of the most well-preserved in Kyoto. Several years ago, after having restored the main building with the help of the Machizukuri Fund, the Matsuis decided to rent it out as a sharehouse. They also welcome short-term visitors to Kyoto to stay in their guest room.
The guest room
Kyoto City has designated the Matsui house an important historical building
The Matsui House guest room is a large 12-tatami size room, accommodating max. two people. The room is actually their ozashiki or main reception room — as such it is the loveliest in the house, with a view out to the gorgeous garden. Guests sleep in the traditional Japanese style, on futon bedding, which most people find very comfortable. Mrs Matsui can find you an extra one futon for more “support” if you need. Continue reading
Ian Ropke writes…
The exotic world of the Japanese inn
At the beginning of the 20th century in Japan and Europe and elsewhere, there was a class of people, often men, who spent great portions of their life living in inns and hotels. Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was one of the last people to live in ryokan in what could only be called “the age of the gentleman”. Indeed, Japan’s great ryokan inns still are and probably always will be connected with wealth and leisure. Some of the finest of these host the stars and nobility of the world when they come to Kyoto, the Old Capital.
The Hiragiya Ryokan, Fuyacho, Kyoto
The best ryokan of Kyoto continue to inhabit a world that expresses the very essence of tradition and perfection. The traditions run to the very generations of families that clean, cook and otherwise service the guests. In some inns in Kyoto, one can still request the services of a blind masseuse at bed time. Reposed and relaxed in the comfort of your exquisite futon the masseuse adds the final touch and puts you to sleep long before the massage ends. In the morning, as always, the perfection and patina of master craftsmen and time awaits you. This is another of the wonders of the ryokan world. The flagstones and wood have been worn smooth in places by the long vanished guests of centuries past. The gardens breathe with a sense of time that only generations of care by skilled landscape artists can create. Continue reading
Gojo Guesthouse is a clean and friendly English-speaking hostel conveniently located on Gojo Dori and so not too far from either Kyoto station or the town centre. A short walk north of here towards Gion, will take you into some of the traditional machiya streets of old Kyoto, and it also happens to be a very good maiko-spotting area. A short hike east will take you up to Kiyomizu-dera, one of Kyoto’s most famous tourist spots.
However, naturally, most back-packers are chiefly concerned with prices, so here goes:
A futon in either the men’s or ladies dormitory will cost you ￥2500
A twin room for two people: ￥6000 yen
A triple Room for three people: ￥9900 yen or ￥12000 yen for four.
Futons and linen are provided and each guest receives a drink ticket (worth 300 yen) for each night they stay that they can use in the café downstairs. There are also showers, laundry facilities, a kitchen, a common room with TV, free internet access and a bicycle rental service for ￥５００ a day. Light meals and cheap drinks are available in the Gojo Guesthouse Cafe from 13:00 ~ 22:00 pm, and (most importantly), they also have Guinness on tap.
Reception is open from 8:00 am ~ 22:00 pm. Check in time is from 15:00 ~ 22:00pm. There is no curfew. Tel: 075-525-2299.
Please note that credit cards are not accepted and you will have to pay on arrival.
You can find a map with full directions on the website here: Gojo Guesthouse Website There is also an Ａｎｎｅｘ close to the Yasaka shrine and thus not far from the main bus routes between Kyoto station and the north of the city. Please check the Ａｎｎｅｘ website for differing rooms, prices and reception hours. Tel: 075-525-2298