What kind of small ryokan is Yasaka Yutone Kyokoyado?
In mid-April, when the cherry blossoms in Kyoto were at the end of season, I went on a business trip from Tokyo to Nagoya and then to Kyoto. I left work around 16:00, passed through the crowded Kyoto Station, and took a cab from a cab stand at the Karasuma Exit. I told a taxi driver, “Please go to Maeda Coffee Shop on Kodaiji Minami Gate Street.” The ryokan I stayed at that day was a small inn next to the coffee shop. Taxi drivers can’t stop in front of the ryokan’s entrance facing a narrow alley, so I got off in front of the coffee shop.
To get straight to the point, this ryokan is a small machiya townhouse building with a total of 7 rooms, so it does not have a swimming pool, gym, spa treatment store, or other extensive amenities like a 5-star hotel, but the cozy space, great location, quality bath amenities and bedding, sophisticated kaiseki cuisine, and warm hospitality are what I really like about it. I stay here especially when I travel alone or on business trips.
Entering a narrow stone-paved alley lined with traditional machiya townhouses, I found the entrance to the ryokan on the immediate right. The gate was small and cozy, but I loved the tasteful sukiya-style architecture of the ryokan. Sliding the lattice door to the side, I entered the ryokan and found an alcove called tokonoma decorated with cherry blossoms and soft indirect lighting. I felt the calm ambience of a traditional townhouse building. When I was warmly greeted by the staff at the entrance, my tiredness from the day’s work was quickly wiped away.
Kyoto’s machiya is a symbolic architectural style that has developed over Kyoto’s long history through the ingenuity and wisdom of people living in small lots and spaces. This ryokan has created a comfortable and pleasant space by skillfully incorporating modern functionality and convenience into a traditional machiya townhouse.
I was immediately shown to a room on the first floor called Byakugun. Upon entering, I found a small Japanese-style room with a ceiling made of bamboo and shoji doors on the window side, but the high ceiling made it feel less oppressive. The room had a bed with bedding made of high quality fabrics, a basket with a bathrope and towels made of comfortable Egyptian cotton on the bed, comfortable bamboo and wood chairs and vermilion table in front of the window, a light made of Japanese paper and bamboo next to the bed, a closet with a modern pattern made of high quality cotton, the carpet had an elegant tatami mat pattern, and every detail of the room had a high-class feel. The shoji doors of the room were opened, and looking out the window, one could see a traditional sukiya-style architecture next door. Then, as I entered a bathroom, I could smell the scent of hinoki cypress. It was not a onsen, but there was a hinoki bath.
I took out a bottle of beer from a mini-bar for a while, sat down on the chair by the window, sipped my beer, and relaxed. By the way, the beer, juice, water, etc. in the mini-bar were free of charge.
I looked at my watch and it was already past 17:00. Dinner was served at 18:00, so I had some time to kill. So I decided to take a walk around the ryokan. As I exited the gate at the entrance to the ryokan into a narrow cobblestone alley, a rickshaw carrying tourists crossed the street. The rickshaw was a picturesque sight in the narrow alley lined with rows of machiya townhouses. It was like stepping back in time to the Edo period and becoming a samurai. Just walking around the ryokan for a few minutes, I was completely enchanted by the wonderful traditional streetscape of Kyoto.
After leaving the ryokan, I turned right, walked down a narrow alley for about 50 meters, and at the end of the alley was my favorite place, Yasaka Koshindo. It was decorated with numerous brightly colored balls called kukuri monkeys. Turning left in front of Yasaka Kōshin-dō Temple, I came to a powerful Yasaka Pagoda. The view from here was also spectacular. It was just after dusk, so the area was getting darker and the town houses was faintly lit. I walked along the stone pavement on the right side of Yasaka Pagoda and walked up a gentle slope for about 200 meters until I saw the stairs of Ninenzaka Slope on my left. At this point, the area was lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes, and was bustling with tourists. Several times I saw students on a school excursion enjoying eating green tea soft serve ice cream and Japanese sweet buns that they had bought at the souvenir shops.
While gazing at such a scene, I continued straight up the gentle slope called Sanneizaka Slope, and when I reached the top of the stairs where I could see beautiful weeping cherry trees, I reached Kiyomizuzaka Slope. I turned left and walked up the gentle slope again until I saw the red gate of Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Unfortunately, the spring lighting of Kiyomizu-dera Temple had already ended on the day I visited. So I decided to turn around here and return to the ryokan. If I had been able to visit Kyoto a week earlier, I would have been able to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom from the stage of Kiyomizu. The best time to see the fleeting but beautiful cherry blossoms is usually about a week from March 25, depending on the weather, so the cherry blossoms fall in a flash.
When I returned to the inn after 18:00, I was getting hungry. I headed downstairs to a small dining restaurant in the basement. The staff showed me to a seat at the counter. Yasaka Yutone Kyokoyado is a wonderful auberge ryokan in Kyoto, so I was really looking forward to it. The appetizer was hairy crab and jelly, the soup was scallops, sea bream and tuna sashimi, grilled fish, cherry shrimp with starchy sauce, and the wagyu beef steak with salt or miso was amazing. I ordered an extra beef steak. I think it was about JPY3,000. Each dish was very carefully prepared and I was satisfied with the elegant taste and the perfect combination.
After dinner, it was past 19:30 when I returned to my room. Afterwards, I decided to visit Kodai-ji Temple, a few minutes’ walk from the ryokan. In mid-April when I visited, the temple was hosting a nighttime lighting display, but the famous weeping cherry trees in the Japanese garden of the temple had already fallen. However, the Japanese garden, a dry landscape garden made of white sand and moss, was enveloped in an ethereal world.
After visiting Kodai-ji Temple, I passed by Yasaka Shrine, then strolled through the souvenir shops and restaurants that line Gion’s arcades to Shirakawa Minamidori. I love this area and often stop by when I visit Kyoto. Even today, maiko and geiko can still be seen walking to their teahouses and places of practice, and the scenery is just as it was in the past. The cobblestone streets along the Shirakawa River, which continue for about 200 meters, are lined with vermilion-colored cobblestone walls and lanterns, and willows sway in the gentle breeze. Unfortunately, most of the cherry blossoms along the Shirakawa River had already fallen, but the petals that fell on the stone pavement looked like a light pink carpet. I walked back to the ryokan, walking on the stone pavement covered with cherry petals.
It was already past 21:00 when I returned to the ryokan. I filled the hinoki bath with hot water and decided to take a relaxing soak. The scent of the hinoki cypress and L’Occitane shampoo was relaxing. I changed into a yukata and lay down on the bed.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of footsteps of guests staying on the second floor. I looked at my watch and saw that it was past 6:30 am. I looked out the window of my room and saw that it was raining lightly. Yesterday it had been spring-like, but today was a chilly morning. I made coffee in a coffee machine in my room and sipped it while looking out the window at the traditional sukiya-style building next door, which was drenched in the rain. As I finished my coffee, my body gradually warmed up. I decided to take a walk and admire wonderful rain-soaked traditional townhouses. I borrowed an umbrella from the reception desk and walked out the front door to find that the sky was covered with gray clouds.
Leaving the ryokan, I turned right and walked straight ahead until I saw Yasaka Kōshin-dō Temple and Yasaka Pagoda. I could feel the dignified air as I walked through the quiet, traditional Kyoto town, listening to the sound of the rain. At this time of the day, the bustle of the town during the day was completely replaced by the quietness of the streets, except for the occasional local people walking around. I walked up the Sannenzaka slope toward Kiyomizu-dera Temple. However, it began to rain heavily at this point, so I decided to return to the ryokan.
Back at the ryokan, my body was getting cold, so I decided to warm up in the hinoki bath. I then headed to the same dining restaurant where I had dinner last night and decided to have breakfast. I sat at the counter seat and had Japanese food. It was a delicious and healthy breakfast with fresh Kyoto ingredients such as grilled salmon, fluffy dashimaki egg, sweet vinegared sea bream, steamed egg custard with tofu, simmered hijiki mushrooms, dressed vegetables, seaweed tsukudani, and dried young sardines.
After breakfast, I decided to work in the small library lounge in the basement until check-out. It was a cozy library lounge with free coffee, green tea, black tea, snacks, etc. There were also traditional toys such as Othello, playing cards, beanbags, and kendamas. I checked out before 10:00 and left the ryokan. It was still raining and I had a lot of luggage, so I asked the staff to arrange for luggage delivery service to Kyoto Station. *Request service at front desk by 10:00AM.
If I were to venture to raise a drawback, since the ryokan is a renovated traditional townhouse building, I could sometimes hear the sounds of life from guests staying in rooms on the second floor. The windows are soundproofed pair glass, so I did not notice any outside noise. If you are a light sleeper, you might want to stay in a room on the second floor.
Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda or Trip.com
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Is the location easy to access?
Walking from the nearest stations, Kiyomizu-Gojo Station, Gion-Shijo Station, or Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station, takes around 20-25 minutes, so it would be recommended that you take a cab from Kyoto Station. Tell a cab driver, “Please go to Maeda Coffee Shop on Kodaiji Minami Gate Street”. Some drivers do not know this ryokan, but they do know Maeda Coffee Shop. Alternatively show them the following Japanese. The ryokan is located next to Maeda Coffee Shop.
Please go to Maeda Coffee Shop on Kodaiji Minami Gate Street.
Rooms I would recommend?
If you are staying here as a couple, I would recommend a room called KURUMI on the first floor, which has a small traditional box garden and twin beds. It is really tasteful.
Also, as mentioned above, when we stayed in a room on the first floor, we sometimes heard footsteps from the second floor. It seems that the traditional wooden building is not equipped with the latest soundproofing measures. If you are a light sleeper, you might want to request a room on the 2nd floor.
How about toiletries & in-room amenities?
All of the amenities are taken care of including toiletries, yukatas, pajamas, bathrobes, a Japanese tea set, a coffee machine with capsules, and a complimentary mini-bar, etc. There are L’Occitane bath amenities and POLA skincare products in the bathroom. There are two kinds of pillows available. On the bed, there was a bath set with a bathrobe and towel wrapped in traditional Japanese wrapping paper. It’s unique Japanese hospitality. Also, a humidifier is placed in each room. Room service is not available. The free WiFi reception was good on-site. There is a convenience store nearby.
How about In-house Facilities?
This is not a universal design. If you bring someone with weak legs, you may want to request a room on 1F. There is no lift.
How about meals?
The kaiseki food would be equivalent to Michelin 1 or 2 stars. The dishes are beautiful to the eye and delicious to the taste buds, served in dishes that reflect the four seasons of Kyoto.
All meals are served in a restaurant. *Please note that inform the staff when you book a room with meals if you have any food allergies or dietary needs. They probably wouldn’t be able to prepare alternative food if you request it on that day.
There are many restaurants if you go to the nearby Gion area, but if you stay here, you may want to try dinner and breakfast. It’s truly worth it.
*If you have dinner at the property, you need to check in by 20:00.
**Dinner is not offered on Wednesdays only.
Have a nice trip! Welcome to receive any questions about the property from the below space. Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda or Trip.com
Info about Yasaka Yutone Kyokoyado
|Check-in and out times
|Estimated Price||45,000 JPY for 2 adults per room|
|Contact to the ryokan||Fill the form in|
|Internet Connection||Free wifi in the ryokan|
|Facility Information||Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The parking lot is not available
|Location||Yasaka Yutone Kyokoyado’s MAP|
|Access||10min by TAXI from JR Kyoto Sation|
|Address and TEL||Kodaiji Sagaru Minami-machi 413,
Kyoto 605-0824 Tel +81 75-533-6226
|Official Homepage||Yasaka Yutone Kyokoyado’s HP|
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
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