Hotel Ninja Black ~ Kyoto Gosho West

(EXPERIENCE MAGAZINE) — KYOTO, JAPAN — The Experience Magazine was invited to stay at the chic Hotel Ninja Black  in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is world famous for its temples, shrines, palaces and architechture. Hotel Ninja Black  is an exceptionally stylish boutique hotel that has a playful ninja theme. Created by owners Toshikazu and Chiaki Aoki. They have created a VIP destination hotel in the heart of Kyoto. When you arrive at the iconic hotel, you can tell from its design that there’s a combination of modern and traditional styles.  Ninja Black displays traditional Japanese art with a sense of humor. First of all, as you enter the hotel, there is a punji trap! You must keep as calm as a ninja when you walk over the glass that lies over the steaks of the punji pit! In the hallway near the lobby, if you look closely, you’ll see the shadow of a ninja projected onto the wall. You can also see these shadows from the dining room. You might think there’s a ninja there out of the corner of your eye.

The Dining Room with th two Andy Warhol silk screens in view. Photo by Dustin Brown
Chiaki Aoki at Hotel Ninja Black. Photo by Dustin Brown

There are sleek furnishings and original artwork throughout the hotel. The Hotel Ninja Black is a unique experience. Kyoto is known for its busy city and giant train station that has a Shinkansen stop. But near the Kyoto Imperial Palace, there’s a quite residential neighborhood that is the home to Ninja Black. It’s recommended that you keep quite while in this neighborhood.

Dustin Brown from the Experience Magazine (L) with co-owner Chiaki Aoki (R) doing an interview in the dining room. Photo by Kumiko Masuda

After all, ninja could be hiding around the corner! The neighborhood is special. There is a standing izakaya bar around the corner. This izakaya is in a tiny lumbar yard. It must be seen to be believed. There’s also a local sake bar nearby that serves an affordable and delicious four course dinner for about $30.00. Each location for dining is a unique and local experience. The four course meal that I had was delicious. It was special. There is also a subway station nearby and all of Kyoto can be accessed by the train system.

Kumiko checks out the Punji pit. Photo by Dustin Brown

When I arrived at the  Hotel Ninja Black, I was greeted by the staff that were attired in ninja costumes. as soon as you enter the lobby and see the punji pit, you know that you’re in for a unique experience that will be fun. Mr. Aoki is an art aficionados. He has an extensive art collection and he has picked a few beautiful pieces from his collection that are on display. There’s a collection of antique tea pots displayed. Seiko Kitamura mastered a metal forging technique called hitokatamri. Hitokatamari uses several kinds of anvils and hammers. Mr. Kitamura would take a single piece of silver or copper and make a kettle or a display bowl. Mr. Aoki has selected some amazing pieces of Mr. Kitamura’s collection.


Mr. Kitamura’s teapots
The Kiminu in the lobby

In the lobby there is also a collection of shunga books that are masterfully displayed. Shunga is a form of ukiyo-e or woodblock printing. The word shunga means “picture of spring.” Spring is common euphemism for sex in Japanese. Shunga books are erotic Japanese art from the Edo period. The colors and images are from another era and interesting to look at. Another art object that is prominent in the lobby is the kominu dog. Kominu are mythical lion/dog figures that are usually at an entrance to a temple or a shrine. The kominu statues at  Ninja Black are about 400 years old from Kyushu and are from the early Edo period.

One of the Shunga books on display. Photo by Dustin Brown

The hotel is brand new. It had only been open for about 11 days when I checked in. Everything is state of the art. It’s sleek, hip and oozing with coolness. The celebrity VIP crowd will feel right at home when they are relaxing in the back courtyard. Along the corridor are kimono prints. These beautiful art prints show a kosode kimono which is a short sleeved kimono. The styles and colors of each print show the tradition of kimono design.

A kosode kimono. Photo by Dustin Brown

The room I stayed on was on the second floor. It’s a brand new western style room with premier furnishings. Visiting luminaries and celebrities will experience a level of five star luxury that they are accustomed to in International travel. Everything is of the finest quality and brand new.

There’s an outline of a ninja in my room!
There are single rooms, doubles and rooms that sleep three. Each room is creative and carefully designed

A unique feature in each room is an art print that features textiles. Fabrics like kinran which is gold brocade and rinzu damask, which is a woven fabric, were brought to Japan from other countries. These items were highly valued in the Edo period and sought after. It’s nice to have an art print that recalls Japan’s history.

A few of the fun things to do at  Ninja Black are; dress up as a ninja or in one of the other cool costumes that are in the lobby. The staff will help you find a fun costume. You can also rent a bicycle for around $10.00 a day. This is recommended as Kyoto is so big and there’s so much to see.
Located near the Inner Garden is the Cafe. The Inner Garden is laid out like a traditional Japanese inner garden. There’s a stepping stone just past the deck. It’s surrounded by moss that can’t be walked on. The Inner Garden is a place for contemplation or to look at while enjoying a meal. Visible from the cafe, you can see a stone lantern, an ornamental rock, a Japanese ash tree, an andromeda bush. It’s like a scene from a painting.

A view of the Cafe in the morning. Photo by Dustin Brown
The Kyoto Imperial Palace is just a few minutes walk away. Photo by Dustin Brown
The garden and pond at the Imperial Palace. Photo by Dustin Brown

The cafe is great place to unwind after a day of exploring Kyoto and also a great place for the complimentary breakfast. The breakfast menu is seasonal. There’s really good hot coffee and fresh juice. Local foods like dashimaki are served. The dashiki rolls are cooked with eggs from the local Nishiki Market. The tasty Japanese bacon comes from the Matsuda Farm in Miyama. Matsuda Farm is known for really delicious and gourmet meat. There’s also a collection of books on many aspects of Japan. I was reading a book on Japanese architecture that was filled with beautiful Japanese houses. There are two silk screen prints of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol in the cafe. This makes the space pop with a cool artistic vibe. Another unique feature of the breakfast is the Ninja Toast. First of all, bread and toast is a big deal in Japan. They have stores that just sell bread. The toast at the cafe is made by buttering one side of a ninja throwing star and placing it on the bread before it gets toasted. The end result is a relief image of the throwing star on your morning toast!

The breakfast was delicious
Ninja throwing star toast. Photo by Dustin Brown

If you’re fortunate enough to stay at  Hotel Ninja Black, you should really take a trip to Mr and Mrs Aoki’s kimono fashion store in Kyoto. Its called Kyoto Ichika. This is an upscale kimono brand that offers classy and refined modern kimono. The stylish and elegant kimono that are sold here are wearable pieces of art.

At Kimono Ichika. Photo by Dustin Brown
A customer pics up her kimono at Kimono Ichika
A beautiful Obi at Kimono Ichika

Kimono Ichika also sells obijime, obiage, bags, sandals and everything you need for just a stunning and beautiful kimono. The obijime is the thin rope that’s attached to an obi. The obi is the colorful sash thats worn around the waist of Japanese kimono. The obi at Kimono Ichika are each stunning works of art. I was mesmerized. Many western people buy the obi and use them as a scarf. Stop by and have a look.

Mr Aoki (R) with Mrs Aoki (L) at Kimono Ichika

The staff is very friendly. When I stopped by, a local lady was buying a new kimono to wear at a gala with her husband in Kyoto. Kimono is serious business in Kyoto, but this store is a rare place to see. The neighborhood where Kimono Ichika is located is special. I recommend that you stop by.

Mr Aoki (L) with Dustin Brown (R) from the Experience Magazine

I slept so soundly on my brand new bed at Ninja Black. The neighborhood is quiet at night. Most people don’t know that Kyoto is a busy city with a limited number of hotel rooms. Black Ninja is special for its location and high end accommodations. The Experience Magazine highly recommends the Black Ninja Hotel in Kyoto!


About Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown is a writer and editor for the Experience at

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