Kyoto offers a wide range of accommodations – from chic capsule hostels to fancy hotels. I looked at a lot of options. Finally I decided that we would splurge a little and book a traditional townhouse! Staying in a rustic townhouse turned out to be a wonderful touch that made our trip complete.
You experience the charm of traditional Kyoto by walking around ancient temples during the day, and that experience doesn’t need to end when you head back to the hotel. Sleeping on Japanese futon on tatami floors in a traditional townhouse in a residential area is a unique experience you don’t want to miss. The fusion of old and new is fascinating. You would likely stay in a townhouse built a century ago while the fanciest gadget in the house is an overachieving toilet with a control panel as complicated as one for a space shuttle.
Machiya (町家) are traditional Japanese wooden townhouses. During 17th-19th centuries, these were houses for merchants and craftsmen to run a storefront and live in the back.
These historic townhouses had been demolished at a scary rate. To preserve this culture, the Machiya Machizukuri Fund was created in 2005 to help fund renovation and preservation of ancient townhouses. Then these minimalist houses with modern and upscale facilities became popular accommodation choices.
We stayed in the Kohaku-an (月輪こはく庵) in the Higashiyama District of Kyoto. It is one of the many properties of the Machiya Residence Inn. I chose this place because of its moderate cost, convenient location to bus stops and a major train line, and short walking distance to some of the most beautiful temples for fall colors.
我們住的月輪在東山地區，是Machiya Residence Inn的其中一棟房子，都是包棟町家住宿，之所以選這家是因為價格實惠、地點離公車和地鐵都很近、又可以走路到著名的楓紅景點。
This house can sleep up to six people. There are two western-style single beds in a bedroom on the second floor. Another bedroom on the second floor sleeps one to two people on Japanese futons. Two people can sleep on futons on the tatami floors in the living and dining room. Futons are neatly folded and put away during the day. You will need to make your own beds and put them away in a closet or cupboard just like the way you see in Japanese anime or movies.
There is one shower and a guest bathroom. If you haven’t experienced the paradise that a Japanese toilet takes you to, this is your chance to find out what you have been missing.
These toilets come with heated seats. When you’re done with your business, you can hit a button to wash your front or back — sometimes you are even able to control the temperature, pressure, and spray pattern of the water streams. Once you’re done washing, hit a button for warm air that dries. Worrying you may have stunk up the bathroom? There is a button for deodorizer. Sometimes these toilets even talk or sing to you while you do your thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out comedian Craig Ferguson’s piece on Netflix. (You can skip ahead to minute 42.)
Most of the doors are sliding paper or glass doors.
The center of the house is a lovely living room. There are tea sets, green tea, coffee, and a coffee machine.
It also has a full kitchen with basic kitchenware and a fridge plus a rice cooker and a tabletop hotpot cooker. We were able to make hot breakfast in the morning and enjoy dinner and drinks around the table as a family.
Even the bowls were so pretty.
Around the corner there is a decent supermarket, Daikokuya (大國屋).
Plastic bags are not free. People are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to shop. I love that there is a self bagging area after checking out.
One evening, we came back soon after dark, bought groceries at Daikokuya, and made a big hot pot for dinner.
This frozen fried rice we found was very convenient and good!
Machiya Residence Inn makes your stay very convenient. The staff speaks English. Their office is walkable from the Kyoto train station. You can check in at the office, get your combination to the number lock of the townhouse, store your luggage there, and have your luggage delivered to the townhouse you are staying in. On the day of departure, you can request delivery service for them to pick up your bags and keep them at the main office. (Luggage delivery service rate in 2017 was 750 yen per bag.)
住在Machiya Residence Inn出租的包棟町家很方便，講英文可以通，他們的辦公室離京都車站不會太遠，到京都可以先來check-in，拿町家密碼鎖的密碼，可以把行李寄在這裡，一天玩完再回來拿，或者可以請他們送到你住的地方，離開那天也是可以把行李留在町家，打電話check out，請他們把行李送到辦公室，要去京都車站坐車前再來拿行李。(行李運送一件日幣750)
Compared to other machiya hotels that I researched, Kohaku-an is a moderate-priced place. Although it’s not as big and fancy as some of the townhouse rentals, and there’s no beautiful hallway and Japanese garden, I love the moderate and compact living space. It was amazing to have a traditional Japanese townhouse all to ourselves.
Kohaku-an is in a very convenient residential area. There are two supermarkets and couple of convenience stores in the vicinity. The Tofukuji station of Keihan Main Line is about five minutes of a walk. It’s less than five minutes in walking distance from bus stops.
The house is within walking distance to some of the most beautiful temples in Kyoto.
Kyoto’s number one fall color destination Tofukuji is about a 15 minute walk. When the leaves turn, Tofukuji gets extremely busy. It is a place you want to go early in the morning. We took advantage of this location and visited the very busy Tofukuji soon after it opened in the morning.
A much less visited temple, Chishaku-in, is within 10 minutes of walking distance. We strolled through the Chishaku-in also early in the morning when there were barely any visitors.
3-8 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Sennyūji Suzumegamorichō 〒605-0975
Starting at 46,000 yen a night; rates vary depending on season, date, and number of guests.