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“Enjoyed every part of the stay” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Motonago

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Motonago
3.5 of 5 Ryokan   |   511 Washio-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0072, Japan (Gion Higashiyama / Kita Shirakawa / Kurama / Yase / Ohara)   |  
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Hotel amenities
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Ranked #3 of 192 Kyoto B&B and Inns
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Enjoyed every part of the stay”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

Stayed there for Christmas eve 2012 with my wife and 2 teenagers. we were in Japan for 1 week and this was one of the most memorable experience of the trip. Wish we had stayed more than 1 night. Extremely well located in Gion in a very quiet street. Very authentic Ryokan. Staff is very attentive to make every aspect of the stay perfect. Limited english is spoken but it is fine. The authentic bath experience is fantastic. Highly recommend taking both Japanese dinners and breakfasts: unusual but delicious if you care for Japanese food. The four of us slept on Japanese style tatamis and futons: very comfortable. Toilets are rustic but very clean. Not every room has toilets. The entire place is very clean. Try to get a room with inside garden view: very beautiful and peaceful. Room for 4 are very comfortable (everyone sleeps side by side). It is not inexpensive but in my opinion well worth it. I had compared many other options and read many comments before choosing this one and I did not regret a bit of my choice. Enjoy it !

Room Tip: Ask for room with garden view
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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171 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
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English first
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2013

A friend found this when looking for traditional accommodation close to the Shrines and markets of Kyoto and this fits the bill perfectly. Probably the most traditional place I've stayed in Japan - with that does come some protocol - so keep that in mind (friends struggled with it a bit). The place is spotless and the staff very helpful (very formal too). Shared a family room (which was vey large) with friends which kept costs down.

If coming from Kyoto station with luggage a taxi is probably the easiest way to get to the Ryokan (about 1200 yen)

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

Awesome location, awesome food & hospitality. Great experience!

Why 4 stars and not 5 - I guess mainly because of the cost. And the fact that we stayed in other traditional inns as well in japan which were cheaper & offered larger rooms than this one. Tho they were in remote places & not the very popular Kyoto. So the higher cost here is understandable. Another reason can be that you get too much attention, while that can be a plus for some people, I do get little uncomfortable.
But yes - it was still very very nice and I would do it again when I can justify to spend $$$ again.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Singapore, Singapore
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2012

The first few things I had in consideration when choosing a ryokan to stay at in Kyoto was the location, atmosphere and price. Situated in the Gion district of Kyoto, Motonago is a few minutes away from Yasaka Shrine, a colorful Shinto shrine located at the end of the Gion shopping street. If you're taking the Keihan Line, get off at Gion-Shijo Station and haul your bags past the shops selling everything from local sweets to the ornate hairpins worn by maikos. Remember to head away from the bridge connecting Gion to Shijou. Once you see Yasaka Shrine, cross over and, if like me you brought along an extra large piece of luggage this is going to be a bit difficult, you need to walk up the steps of the shrine and into the courtyard. Head for the gate on your right. Once through the gate, watch out for a small alley on your left to head up through. Motonago's entrance is at the end . Now, if you weren't distracted by the shops along the way, you should be able to reach Motonago in about 15 minutes. Get acquainted with the surroundings while there's light, once it's dark the architecture that gives the area its quintessential Japanese atmosphere may turn into a maze if you're not paying attention.

Slide open the doors and you'll be greeted, literally and figuratively, by the innkeepers and a dry yet sweet fragrance given off by the burning of scented incense. Very sublime. I knew I was in for a treat. It was raining when I came early in the morning to deposit my bag before the 1600hr check-in timing and before I could muddy the floor with my luggage, a female member of staff was at hand to wipe the wheels of my luggage before allowing me to proceed further.

While I was filling up my particulars, the very ladylike staff member knelt beside my luggage, which had been silently rolled to some corner where it would not block the main door. I was then informed of the inn's close proximity to Kiyomizu Temple, with the staff drawing a route to the World Heritage Site on a map. If you don't mind taking a short walk and exploring the shops along the way, the walking route is probably a good idea. If not, head to a bus stop in the Gion area where you're bound to find a bus to bring you there. As I was leaving Motonago, I caught a peek into their cloakroom. Each guest is allocated a pigeon hole for their footwear and umbrella as was my case since it was raining.

As expected, I was followed to the door and pointed in the right direction to head to my next destination.

Wet and cold after a day out, I was looking forward to soaking in the inn's ofuro or public bath. Before I was ushered to my room, I was given a tour of the inn. The common computer with internet access, the restrooms and baths are located on the first floor. At each step and low doorway reminded by the innkeeper to watch my step and mind my head. Simply decorated, you won't find painted screen doors or garish posters of the local sights. It is exactly because of this that Motonago exudes a rustic charm which doesn't overwhelm you yet draws you in. The eight tatami mat room which was mine for the night came with a private toilet, a very pleasant and welcome surprise, since I wasn't looking forward to having to climb the stairs each time I had to use the loo. The innkeeper graciously offered to hang my jacket when she saw me take it off. While I settled myself in, she excused herself and was back a short while later with a plate of mochi and a pot of green tea. Although I won't consider myself a tea connoiseur, I was happy to note that the tea wasn't made with a bag. I suppose at SGD$300 a night, even the smallest of details like tea leaves aren't forgotten. My bath and meal timings were taken before I was left to unpack and get ready for my bath.

Dinner was a typical kaiseki meal, with each course being served separately. It took approximately an hour to get from the appertiser to dessert. Each course was served in beautiful crockery, perfectly complementing the what must have been painstaking food plating process. To be honest, I was expecting more variety in the food. I had sent in a special request for a seafood only meal and sea bream was the main ingredient in a few of the dishes.

After dinner I went for a short walk through Gion and came back to a nicely set out futon with an origami crane set on the pillow. Despite the expected creaking front he wooden floor boards, I had a very restful sleep!

Breakfast was very filling and I recommend that you go for that instead of the continental breakfast. It will definitely power you up for the day ahead.

For the price tag and level of service, a stay at Motonago is an experience in Japanese hospitality that is not to be missed!

Room Tip: Try asking for a room with a private toilet. You'll have to use the common toilet on the ground...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

We were a bit apprehensive about the cost of staying in a Ryokan in general, but this was by far the highlight of our visit to Japan.
On arrival our taxi driver was clearly in a bit of a rush and wasn't interested in taking us the whole way, so he dropped us at the end of the laneway. The front entrance has the name in Kanji but not Romaji, so we got a little lost. However there was a sign around the corner of the building which said Motonago, and we eventually worked our way back to the entrance.

We stayed for 2 nights, with both breakfast and dinner (according to their website meals are optional, unlike most ryokans). Each was beautifully presented, and although some traditional Japanese food takes getting used to, the meals were nonetheless extraordinary.
There are 2 baths which can be booked for private use. We didn't have any trouble getting in at the times we wanted.

At all times the staff were attentive and pleasant. Variable levels of English were spoken, but as in most of Japan, hand signals seem to fill in the gaps quite well and communication was rarely a problem.

The cost of a ryokan can be off-putting, but Motonago isn't just a hotel, it's a cultural experience. Would absolutely recommend coming back here again.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
rochester, ny
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2012

We stayed in this ryokan for 3 nights. It elevated our Kyoto experience from excellent to magical. Highly recommend it for a full japanese experience. Breakfast is traditional japanese - fish, rice, tofu. It is very filling and worth a try. We have not had dinner at the ryokan, but a lot of places around us serve excellent food. the location is absolutely superb for sightseeing - nice opportunities to start a long excursion, or for a short morning or evening stroll. japanese bath is another surreal experience. sleeping on futon beds could be challenge, but we slept well after long days of sightseeing and a relaxing bath.

Room Tip: try to book a room with a garden view. without it is not really worse the price.
See more room tips
  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
singapore
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

I read many reviews before deciding on the motonago cos it does looked quite nice compared to the photos of other ryokan i have seen on trip advisor. Motonago is super well located, next to the Kodaji temple and minutes walk to rows of restaurants and shops in Gion. There is also an excellent patisserie 10metres from which I highly recommend, to die for elcairs. It is 15 minutes (1200 yen by taxi) away from the main Kyoto train station. It costs only 540yen and 30mins journey to take the JR train from Osaka station (or Umeda subway, linked to the osaka station). There is no need to take the shinkaisen which costs alot more for 15 mins journey.

The room given to us was large but we just couldn't sleep as the light weight doors are made of paper and wood frame, you hear everything. Each time a guest passes the room, you cld hear their footsteps and voices (no matter how soft they speak..some guests do not know how to keep their voice low in the ryokan). So for US$450, you get the room and breakfast included. It's typical japanese breakfast with rice, tofu in clear soup on hot pot, grill fish (salmon or mackeral I think) and some pickles and egg roll. You cld ask for western option but if this is your first time in japan, I think it wld be interesting to try the Japanese breakfast. Oh, you have do not have private bath and toilet. So, you have to book your bath in advance which is easy to do as the lady in charge will take down your time preference when you are shown to your room...right down to what time you want breakfast. And everything will be in order and perfectly on time. The bath experience is truly amazing...soaking yr body and aches away after a day of walking and exploring! As for the toilet, should nature calls in the middle of the nite, you just have to leave yr room to use the common toilet which is super clean as you can expect the high japanese standard of hygiene. The staffs are super super helpful and nice.

Finally, nearby Motonago, there is the Yasaka shrine which is also worth visiting. But the Kodaji temple is best visited in the nite. Pls note that last entry is at 2130 as park closes at 2200. The view is spectacular and magical. For those of you who do not have time to venture far to the bamboo mountain, Kodaji is the answer for a quick feel of magical bamboos. Have fun in the gion area. If you are lucky, you might spot geishas leaving the tea houses discretly... fleeting images...they float away as quickly as you see them. Explore the side walkways in gion. It is beautiful. We love Kyoto. There are also plenty of Michelin star restaurants to choose from.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Motonago

Address: 511 Washio-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0072, Japan
Location: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto > Gion Higashiyama / Kita Shirakawa / Kurama / Yase / Ohara
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 192 B&Bs / Inns in Kyoto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Motonago 3.5*
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Also Known As:
Motonago Hotel Kyoto

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