Komatsu South is a new machiya-style residence offering fully serviced vacation accommodation in the heart of Kyotoâ€™s Gion district. Each of the buildingâ€™s four apartments have their own self-catering and laundry facilities and guests are also provided with daily housekeeping and an e-concierge service. This is the perfect holiday location for independent travelers who want a taste of tradition and all the comforts of home.
Last October, Mewby and I were given the chance to stay at the Benten Residences; two traditional machiya townhouses that have been beautifully restored as holiday accommodation by the Shimaya Stays company. Shortly after we stayed there, Shimaya Stays opened up a new property in Kyoto, called Komatsu South. Unlike the Benten Residences, Komatsu South is not a renovated townhouse, but a brand new machiya-style structure built to combine traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern comfort and convenience. In February last, we were invited once again to enjoy Shimaya Stayâ€™s hospitality at this exciting new development. Naturally, I took lots of pictures.
Komatsu South is a two-story building with four apartments. The whole building has been designed and built by local architects and artisans as a recreation of Kyo-Machiya style, but with modern enhancements such as heated flooring, air conditioning, hot running water, and bathing facilities. There are two one-bedroom apartments, and two two-bedroom apartments, with one of each on each floor. We stayed in the one-bedroom apartment on the 1st floor, but also had a peak inside the 2nd floor two-bedroom apartment.
Our apartment had a coffee area with a kitchenette, a tatami room where we slept on futons, and a separate bathroom and toilet.
Every apartment has its own well-stocked kitchen. Hereâ€™s ours:
As you can see I opened all the drawers and cupboards so you could see how well stocked it is. Thereâ€™s a refrigerator, an induction hob, cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils, a microwave oven, a rice cooker, an electric kettle, a toaster, and a Nespresso machine. Each apartment also has a combined washer/dryer for your laundry.
The bathroom is nice and big and has a good-sized bathtub and shower.
While staying at Komatsu South, Janice Tay, the local manager, was good enough to give us a brief tour of the building. Hereâ€™s a look at 2nd floor two bedroom apartment.
Both of the two bedroom apartments have living rooms, kitchenettes, a single bedroom with twin beds, and a tatami room that can be used as a second bedroom with futons.
The apartments are decorated with prints by the esteemed local photographer John Einarsen.
Open-air Tea Ceremonies
Komatsu South has some unusual features, such as a tree growing all the way through the center of the building, and a rooftop space that can be used as an open-air tea room.
Traditional tea ceremonies can be arranged for guests who are interested in this aspect of Japanese culture. Last year, we attended a tea ceremony here to celebrate the buildingâ€™s opening, and the atmosphere under the open sky was invigorating.
Komatsu South Advantages
Staying in a serviced apartment like this, you get a greater measure of independence and personal space than you would in a hotel, but Shimaya Stays also have a system of services in place, so that you never feel isolated. Staff will greet you on your arrival, are available for enquiries at any time during your stay, and will perform daily housekeeping and cleaning with a clean set of towels supplied each day. The apartments are comfortable and stocked with all the amenities you need (including free Wi-Fi) and the building interior is well-lit with night lights and motion sensor lights so you can find your way in and out with ease. I would recommend Komatsu South for couples, small groups, and families with children. Iâ€™m also told that Komatsu South recently hosted a wedding group (both the happy couple and their friends) who rented the whole property.
The eConcierge Service
Once you have booked your stay in one of the Shimaya Stays properties you can have a highly-customized itinerary made just for you based on your own interests; whether they be Japanese cooking classes, zen meditation sessions, or simple restaurant bookings. All of this can be arranged by email with the help of a team of local experts, and then when you arrive everything is planned out, including walking routes on Google maps, right down to train and bus times. This is done so that you can maximize your time in Kyoto and get the very best out of your stay.
Shimaya Stays can also organize complete guided tours to explore the best of Kyotoâ€™s culinary and artisanal culture. Possibilities include gourmet excursions, sake tasting experiences, traditional sweet making workshops, and shopping trips to flea markets and antiques stores for ceramics, lacquerware, and other unique souvenirs.
Komatsu South is located a short distance from Kenninji Temple and is also convenient for the picturesque Sannenzaka lane and Kiyomizudera temple. The nearest stations are Gion-Shijo Station which is a 12 minute walk to the north, and Kiyomizu-Gojo Station which is a 12 minute walk to the south. Both stations are on the Keihan Line. Here is a MAP of the location.
Full text and all images by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.