Yuzuya Ryokan

Yuzuya Ryokan

What kind of accommodation is Yuzuya Ryokan?

Every year, during the cherry blossom season, I feel like visiting Kyoto. The cherry blossoms in the streets and temples of Kyoto are spectacular, ephemeral, beautiful, and inspiring beyond words. This year, Kyoto was quieter than expected because of the coronavirus pandemic of 2021.

On a weekend in early April, with a fresh blue spring-like sky, my husband and I took the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station around 10:00 and arrived at Kyoto Station a little after 12:00. Normally, Kyoto is crowded during the cherry blossom season, but this year there were fewer tourists and the atmosphere was more tranquil.

To get straight to the point, we loved the ambiance of this ryokan very much. There is no excessive service, and it is a great ryokan for those who want to relax quietly in Kyoto, enjoy the famous yuzu-kaiseki cuisine, and fully enjoy the cherry blossom sites in the Gion area. We would like to stay here again during the cherry blossom season.

After having lunch at ISETAN in Kyoto Station, at around 14:00, we took the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station, got off at the next station, Tofukuji Station, transferred to the Keihan Main Line, and got off at Gion-Shijo Station. From there, it was a 15-minute walk to Yuzuya Ryokan, where we were staying.

As we came out of Exit 6 at Gion-Shijo Station, we found a traditional Kabuki theater built in the traditional Japanese architectural style. After a 10-minute walk along the arcade lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and traditional craft stores in the direction of Yasaka Shrine, the dynamic red gate called torii of Yasaka Shrine came into view.

Then we looked a little to the right of the torii gate of Yasaka Shrine and found a small entrance made of black wooden lattice doors next to the coffee shop. On the gate of the entrance was written in white letters the name Yuzuya Ryokan. The entrance was so small that a first-time visitor could easily miss it.

We opened the black sliding lattice door and were greeted by the aroma of Japanese citron called yuzu. It was as if we were stepping back in time. The bustle of the Gion area seemed to be a lie, and the air was dignified and serene. We went inside and climbed up stone stairs. We opened the sliding black lattice door and walked in to see a large stone bowl decorated with many yellow yuzu citrons. To the right were four big, traditional kamado, or potsherds’ doors. Next to them was a small tatami room dynamically decorated with cherry blossoms. In the past, this used to be the kitchen. It was a dimly lit space with a hint of indirect lighting, but the ambience was almost the same as it was more than 100 years ago.

Then, to the left was the reception desk, and behind it was a tasteful courtyard. Yuzu and maple trees were planted. The old wooden plank doors and storehouse doors used in places give a deep sense of taste. It was as if this place was an authentic old house in the countryside of Kyoto, which made us feel nostalgic.

After a brief check-in procedure at the reception counter, we took steep stairs by the courtyard to the second floor. This is a small ryokan with only eight rooms, all of which are located on the second floor. Walking down the hallway decorated with tasteful lanterns and hanging scrolls, and looking out over the courtyard, we moved to the room where we would be staying for the night. It is a corner room facing the main street adjacent to Yasaka Shrine.

As we opened the door to the room and entered, the aroma of yuzu (Japanese citron) wafted through the air again. Then, in the Japanese-style living room, a veranda called engawa was built, with a chair and a table. Through the window covered with bamboo screens, one could see cars and buses passing in front of the red torii gate of Yasaka Shrine. Then, next to the engawa, there was a hinoki bath with yuzus on it. There was also a washbasin room next to the Japanese-style living room. Across from the washbasin room was another Japanese-style room with Japanese-style futons laid out on the tatami floor. This room had an unusual layout and was a cozy, traditional Japanese room, although the decoration was modest.

We and three other groups were the only guests that day, and the landlady who came to greet us in our room seemed somewhat forlorn. If it were not for the coronavirus pandemic, we would be very busy every year during the cherry blossom season, with full rooms every day,” she said.

For a while we ordered yuzu sake from room service and relaxed in our room while drinking it. Being in the room filled with the fragrance of yuzu made us want to drink yuzu sake.

After that, we decided to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple, famous for its cherry blossoms. It is about a 20-minute walk from the ryokan. Walk along the main street in front of the ryokan for about 10 minutes toward Kyoto Station, and when you reach a slope called Kiyomizu-zaka, turn left and follow the crowd up the stone pavement until you reach Kiyomizu Temple. On this day, the temple area was crowded with local people.

Kiyomizu Temple is an ancient World Heritage site with approximately 1,500 cherry trees in full bloom, and the view from the stage of Kiyomizu was truly spectacular and the Yasaka Pagoda and Sanmon Gate, which blend beautifully with the cherry blossoms, are a sight to behold again and again. The spacious precincts of the temple were covered in cherry blossoms everywhere. During this season, the temple is also illuminated at night.

After this, we returned to the ryokan and went to a dining restaurant on the first floor for dinner. We were looking forward to dinner here, as it has a good reputation, especially the yuzu kaiseki course, which makes extensive use of yuzu and Kyoto vegetables. We were shown by the staff to our table with a view of a small waterfall. The large, shiny, single pane of glass offered an ethereal view of the waterfall, which was gently illuminated. We enjoyed aromatic dishes using yuzu, rare Kyoto beef sushi, and rice cooked in a traditional cooking stove.

After dinner, we decided to visit Kodaiji Temple in the neighborhood to see the temple illuminated. Kodaiji Temple was built by the wife of the famous warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She have had a tumultuous and eventful life, but every spring, she would often gaze at the beautiful cherry blossoms and silently reflect on her life. The large weeping cherry trees blooming in the white sand Japanese garden are well worth a visit.

After enjoying the illumination of Kodaiji Temple, we decided to take a walk in Maruyama Park, one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto, and then back to our ryokan, passing through the grounds of Yasaka Shrine. It was a slightly breezy night, so the cherry petals were dancing like snow. We also wanted to visit the illuminated Chion-in nearby, with its impressive huge gate, but we were too tired that day and would like to enjoy it next year.

We returned to the ryokan after 21:00 and decided to go to communal baths on 1F. The communal baths are small, but we did not see any other guests at that time. There were many yuzu citrons floating in the hinoki baths, and their distinctive aroma was pervasive. Soaking in the yuzu floating bathtub, I felt as if not only my mind and body, but even my internal cells were being reborn. Then it seems that many guests squeeze the floating yuzus in the bathtubs, so there was a sign in the changing room that said, “Do not squeeze the yuzus in the bathtubs.

Then the next day we woke up a little after 6:00. The corner bedroom we stayed in was probably next door to the boiler room, and the noise was a bit disturbing.

It was very quiet in Gion in the early morning. We decided to take a walk along Shirakawa River that runs through Gion. It is only a few minutes away from the ryokan. Shirakawa Minamidori, a 220-meter stretch along the river, is a special place with its characteristic Kyoto atmosphere and sophisticated traditional Japanese restaurants called ryotei and teahouses. The stone-paved pathway along the river and the rows of cherry blossom trees add a lustrous color to the spring in Gion, and the area is tinged with the color of cherry blossoms. The area around Tatsumi-bashi Bridge and Tatsumi Jinja, with its stone-paved streets lined with rows of machiya-townhouses with red latticework, were also in perfect harmony with the cherry blossoms, creating a scene so beautiful that it is hard to put into words. This area is wonderful during the daytime, but at night it has a different and bewitching atmosphere than during the daytime.

Having enjoyed our morning walk, we decided to return to the ryokan and have breakfast in the dining restaurant on the first floor. We were shown to the same table as for dinner last night. Breakfast was a healthy breakfast of eight of the finest obanzai dishes served in brightly colored vermilion cups, broiled miso-marinated black cod, yuba, yuzu porridge, rice cooked in a kettle, and yuzu juice. The yuzu and sea bream porridge was especially excellent. On this particular day, there were only Japanese dishes available due to the small number of guests, but it seems that Western breakfast is usually available as well.

After breakfast we relaxed in the hinoki bath in our room with yuzus floating in it. Then we checked out before 10:00 and went to Chion-in Temple, which we could not visit last night.

If I were to raise a disadvantage, it would be that the traditional wooden structure of the building makes the sounds of daily life a bit annoying. If you are a nervous person like me, you might want to get some earplugs. I could sometimes hear people talking and footsteps in the hallway. In addition, children under the age of 13 are not allowed to stay at the ryokan, so it is not suitable for small children.

Check Availability and Pricing for the property on Agoda 

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Is the location easy to access?

It is easy to take a cab. It takes 10 minutes from Kyoto Station and costs about 1,500 yen. It is also only a 15-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station and Kyoto-kawaramachi Station. Although transportation is not convenient, there are many attractive spots within walking distance. There is no need to take a train or bus.

Most cab drivers know this ryokan, but just to be sure, you can give them the address and TEL number in Japanese below so they can enter the number into their car navigation systems and confirm your destination.


〒605-0074 京都府京都市東山区祇園町南側545
電話番号 075 533 6369

There is no parking lot, so if you are driving, you need to use a coin-operated parking lot about 5 minutes walk away.

How about toiletries & in-room amenities?

All of the amenities are taken care of including minimum toiletries, yukatas, and a Japanese tea set, etc. Room service is available.  There is a yuzu soap in the bathroom. There are some convenience stores nearby. Free wifi reception was good in our room.

How about In-house Facilities?

The ryokan has a tasteful courtyard garden, each with its own seasonal charm. In particular, the best season is May, when the pretty white yuzu flowers bloom, and June and July, when the green yuzu trees grow.

Then this is not a universal design. There are steep stairs and no elevators. It is not recommended if you are taking someone with weak legs. Also, the entrance to the ryokan is narrow stone steps, which may be a bit difficult for the elderly.

There are also communal yuzu baths. They are not large, but the effect of the yuzu floating in the cypress bathtubs will make you feel warm to the core, just like a hot spring. Open from 15:00 to 24:00. *If you have tattoos, you may not be permitted to use the public bathing area.

How about meals?

It is a well-known auberge-type ryokan in Kyoto. The yuzu kaiseki cuisine was impeccable. The abundant use of seasonal ingredients and yuzu, as well as the presentation and seasoning, kept us going until the very end. We were impressed by the passion and spirit of the chef who used yuzu to create such Kyoto cuisine.

Then there was the breakfast, which also had a wide variety of side dishes, all of which were delicious. The rice cooked in a kettle at mealtime was so delicious that we couldn’t resist having another helping.

All meals are served in the dining area. Dinner starts between 17:00 and 19:00. Breakfast starts between 7:00 and 8:30.

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 on that day.

Then there are many restaurants nearby, so you can go out to eat, but if you prefer Japanese food, you may want to book a room with meals. It is well worth it. Many guests stay here because they want to enjoy the food here.

Check Availability and Pricing for the property on Agoda 

Info about Yuzuya Ryokan

Style Traditional Ryokan
Check-in and out times 15:00/11:00
Estimated Price 52,634 JPY for 2 adults per room 
 Contact E-mail
 Fill the form in or yuzuya@yuzuyaryokan.com
Internet Connection  Free wifi in the ryokan
Facility Information Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The parking lot is not available
Location Yuzuya Ryokan’s MAP
Access approx.15min TAXI  from Kyoto Station
Address and TEL 545 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-Ku,
Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0074  Tel +81 75-533-6369
Official Homepage Yuzuya Ryokan’s HP

*All information is as of the date that I posted on my blog.

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