Kyoto, JAPAN — February 7th, 2018 — The Experience Magazine recently visited an incredible AirBnb property in Kyoto, Japan. Hosted by Yamamoto San, the property is known as Yuurakuan. The word 優 (yuu) in Japanese means, kindness and sweet, so it basically means “a place with great hospitality and kindness for guests to comfortably stay.” Yuurakuan was once a tea house or an ochaya. Ochaya are located in “hanamachi” districts.
These are districts where geisha entertain. The Shimogyo neighborhood where Yuurukuan is located is one of these districts. Yuurakuan is on a quiet and peaceful street. Having been to Kyoto many times over the past few years, I can tell you that this house is a real Kyoto experience. Kyoto is actually a big city. I think that many people expect an ancient capital to be quiet and peaceful and are surprised to find that Kyoto is a big, busy city. Another thing that might surprise people is that Kyoto doesn’t have a lot of affordable hotels. There are many high end hotels. If you make a reservation in advance, you can experience a resort in Kyoto. But the rooms fill up fast. Last minute reservations aren’t usually possible. There are also traditional Japanese style hotels and houses to stay in. Known as Ryokan (pronounced more like “yokan”) These places provide a traditional Japanese experience. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn and the floors are covered in tatami.
The Yuurakuan property that I visited in Kyoto is laid out as a traditional Ryokan. The first thing that I noticed when we arrived at the one hundred year old house is that the neighborhood is full of charm and is off the busy streets of Kyoto. There was a woman walking around and clapping hyoshigi together. This simple wooden percussion instrument is used by night watchmen when patrolling a neighborhood. It made me feel as if I had been transported back in time.
Stepping in the door and removing my shoes, I noticed the beautiful noren that was hung in the doorway. It had a moon motif that was relaxing and impressive. All of the decorations in the home are traditional and stylish. There is neo Japanese feeling in this property. A combination of new and old blend together. Just past the entry way is a kitchen with the latest appliances.
The kitchen is large and is a perfect place to cook a meal at home. Eating a home cooked Japanese meal is a special experience. The kitchen and dining area here is the perfect place to do it. Right in the heart of Japan’s cultural capital.
Going past the kitchen, one arrives at the living room. The living room was also decorated with traditional Japanese items. There’s a high definition television in the living room. The lay out is very inviting and looks out into the garden in the back yard that features bamboo. The Japanese garden is serene and is an important feature for the house. To be able to come home and look at your outdoor space in the back with bamboo is unique.
Another feature downstairs is the wood bathtub made from cypress. Soaking in a hot bath is a traditional secret of Japan. It has health benefits for sore feet and back pain. A soak in the wooden bathtub is perfect for people walking around the crowded streets of Kyoto.
Upstairs are the living quarters. The bedroom is laid out for two, but there are plenty of futons for up to 8 guests. The house has a quiet and relaxing feeling. It’s perfect for guests wanting to stay in Kyoto and see the the local sights.
There are so many famous places to see in Kyoto. To list everything worth visiting would take some time. I will say that within walking distance to this property is the Kyoto Aquarium and the Kyoto Railway museum. Both are worth visiting. There are restaurants, markets, temples and so much more.
Kyoto station and Kyoto Tower are only a few minutes away by taxi. Shijo street (or Fourth Street in Japanese) is a major shopping area of Kyoto. In addition to major malls like Takashimaya, there is also Nishiki Market. This market is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” and many locally sourced items can be purchased here.
When planning a trip to the Kansai region and Kyoto, It’s important to get a centrally located place to stay. Yuurakuan is a traditional Japanese house that will make your trip memorable.
See the Airbnb link here to book Yuurakuan
Here’s a Facebook video from the local area of Yuurakuan