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“Staying in a traditional Japanese-style place we felt like at home”

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Guesthouse Kingyoya
Ranked #53 of 322 Specialty lodging in Kyoto
Portlaoise, Ireland
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Staying in a traditional Japanese-style place we felt like at home”
Reviewed June 4, 2011

When the people from the ‘West’ arrived in Japan for the first time, they were shocked by the simplicity of the local rooms compared to their own. Because traditional Japanese-style rooms were built with natural materials only, such as wood, paper, stones, soil, straw, and fabric, their appeal was not only its coziness, but also being able to sense outdoor nature while inside.

Kyoto was one of the places I visited during my around the world trip. Myself and my travel mate, who joined me on the Chinese-Japanese part of the journey, stayed in the Guesthouse Kingyoya for two nights in March 2011.

The shoes were taken off at the entrance hall, and we stepped on tatami mats with bare foot. The furniture in our room were kept to a bare minimum, but the place was very comfortable after all. We slept on the futons laid on the tatami and sat directly either on the tatami or on the zabutons set on the tatami. I was surprised how comfortable the futons occurred to be. The rooms in the Guesthouse were divided with the screens and fusuma - sliding doors, both with a wooden frames and paper pasted on both sides.

Yumiko, the owner of the Guesthouse, took a truly great care of us from the very first moment of our arrival. Staying in a traditional Japanese-style place we felt like at home.

The interiors in Japan are increasingly built in the Western style and the traditional ones are becoming less common. Thank God for the Guesthouse Kingyoya where we still can feel the old-time wooden culture with its smell of the straw and its simplicity, all mixed with the traditional Japanese hospitality.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
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3 Thank MichalCichecki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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54 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Hannover, Germany
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed May 20, 2011

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Kyoto, and during our stay we have tried 3 different traditional "Machiya" stays, all highly receommended to us from Japanese locals. Of course each guest house has its own charm and appeal, but Kingyoya is our favorite, even though it's bit far away from city center (30 minutes by bus).

This wooden house, about 100 years old, is well maintained. It offers all modern amenities without compromising any traditional character. Each guest room is tastefully but not over decorated. The staff are very friendly, helpful, and communicate easy in English, the neighborhood is quiet and homey, and the nearby Funaoka Onsen is absolutely a plus -- we went there almost every evening!

What amazed us the most is that, the guest house was full the whole time we were there, but never once we had to fight for the toilet or shower room. I personally am very noise sensitive, but never once I heard voices or steps from our neighbors, who were just some thin paper doors away.

We recommend Kingyoya to our friends and who ever wants to visit Kyoto for real Kyoto experinces.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Yvonne_Hoschopf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rittman, Ohio
Level Contributor
50 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed April 15, 2011

In Kyoto, one typically visits to get a feel for the authentic, old Japanese experience. At Guesthouse Kingyo-ya, there is no doubt you will be immersed in what it was like to live in a real machiya, which is what this building is.

Upon arriving at Kyoto Station from Oji (Nara Prefecture), we took the Kyoto Bus System (get the $5 per day pass!) to our stop. Just as a warning, you will probably have to wait awhile for your bus to arrive, and once you're on, it takes quite a while to reach any destination in Kyoto that's not right down the street. There are many stops, so make sure you watch the TV at the front of the bus or listen to the loudspeaker, or you may miss your stop!

After exiting the bus, I had a map that I printed out from the website that warned the Guesthouse was difficult to find. We wandered the small, similar looking streets for about a half hour before we finally asked an extremely kind man if he could help us. He dashed off, us following with our rolling luggage, and pointed at a building that hadn't even been 100 feet away! That's how maze-like these streets could be! But that's all of Kyoto!

We arrived a little earlier than check in, but were greeted and told we could leave our bags while we went to get something to eat. We were nervous about finding Kingyo-ya once we left, but we got the hang of the directions. I feel terrible for not remembering her name, but the lady who runs Kingyo-ya is SO incredibly nice. She gave us directions to local places to eat and see along with an indispensable MAP! The man who runs it with her, who goes by the nickname of Jumbo, was so nice and funny! He had a constant smile on his face!

The first review on here of Kingyo-ya is really spot on and includes a lot of photos, I recommend checking those out. You'll be amazed at the architecture and layout of the Guesthouse. My husband and I had a room in the very front of the building, which made things a little noisy. But to be honest, after 10 pm, you could hear someone cough in the room that was farthest from you because of the paper thin (literally!) walls. It was also pretty chilly, but we went in November, so that was on us! They provide you with a heater and of course, a huge comfortable futon that you lay out yourself and put away during the day. The tatami smelled and felt exquisite to walk on in the room, and the wooden floors in the halls felt like feet had been walking on them for many years. So much history!

If you're unsure whether to include breakfast with your stay, definitely do it! First of all, it's a great price. And secondly, you sit in the very cozy breakfast area and are served generous portions of all the traditional Japanese foods. As you start on those dishes, Jumbo arrives and cooks fresh fish for you on a small grill, right in front of you! It was really interesting to watch him cook it, fanning it every so often. I still remember the aroma! I was a little nervous to eat the fish as it is DEFINITELY fresh and sometimes staring right back at you - but it's DELICIOUS! When in Kyoto ... !

The only downside, as I mentioned, is the lack of soundproofing (expected), and that there is minimal privacy, at least on the lower floor. You have to go outside to use the bathroom and creak through the whole building, sliding heavy glass doors along the way. There is a bathroom with attached shower room, and Japanese style toilet, and a Western style toilet. Let me tell you, at 3 a.m., that heated toilet seat sure feels nice!

There are also many places to visit in Kyoto, and fortunately, you are within walking distance to one of the most popular and beautiful - Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion. We made the small mistake of visiting it, along with many other temples in walking distance (Ryoan-ji, Nanzen-ji, etc) on their holiday of Labor Thanksgiving, so it was very busy, but still pleasant! We also went to Arashiyama this day, which features Monkey Mountain, a really neat diversion from typical Japanese tourist destinations! Please check out Japan-Guide.com for more information. We also visited Nijo Castle with it's nightingale floors, Fushimi Inari Shrine with it's thousands of Torii gates, and my personal favorite, Kiyomizu-dera Temple. We went during the fall illuminations, which are absolutely spectacular - spotlights highlighting the fall colors and the beautiful buildings that make up the temple grounds. It's a bit of a festival atmosphere, which made it even more exciting. Please be aware that Kiyomizu-dera is on the opposite side of Kyoto. We made the mistake of trusting our GPS that it would be just over an hour walk - it ended up being over two hours just to get there! But we did walk through Gion, which is very elegant and the Geisha district of old. We also had an adventure walking through the Imperial Palace Park after dusk! That's another story, though!

Please message me with any questions you may have, as we stayed here quite a few months ago and I'm just now getting to the review. Guesthouse Kingyo-ya sits firmly in my mind as an oasis and I can't recommend it enough, especially as a very good value!

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank soyduck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Island City, New York
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2010

Back in May, we had a family trip to Kyoto. It was hubby’s first time in Japan. My six year old son has been there a few times, but we had to find a family-friendly place, as he tends to stomp around and could get really loud.

I was looking for a ryokan (traditional inns) in Kami-gyo-ku (upper / northern Kyoto area), but ryokans are not cheap nor kid friendly. Looking on a Japanese site - Rakuten Travel, I found an affordable Machiya (traditional Kyoto townhouse) guesthouse called Kingyo-ya that has been restored and recently opened in April 2010.

It was just perfect — price was right, and the experience was beyond our expectation… as close to a ryokan experience or even better, more like getting a glimpse of Old Japan without the pricetag associated with it.

The Japanese courtyard garden is beautiful and the details are authentic. There was a nice bamboo faucet where you can wash your hands. The futons, dining tables, tansu (cabinets), even clocks were either antiques or traditional. However, we didn't feel uptight having a kid running around, as these objects were more homey and well-used than "priceless antiques". The proprietors were young (i.e. our age, in their 30's?) so we didn't feel like we had to be formal all the time.

Flickr set showing the beauty of the place:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ovalle/sets/72157624223308700/

We regrettably had to cancel dinner, as we were late and broke, but we still signed up for breakfast — which included grilled flounder, yuba (skimmed soy milk skins), pickles, miso soup made with local specialty miso, and rice from the proprietor’s family farm. The fish was grilled right in front of us on a quaint, old hibachi made from a large tree stump.

Location might be a little hard to find for a foreigner (see Google Map directions), but it’s really great and economical if you are visiting the famous temple and shrines in Kami-gyo-ku, such as Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji which are all within a short bus ride away. Kyoto City Bus offers a one-day all-you-can-ride pass for 500 yen (buy it on the bus), which we used to get to all the temples, as well as to get around town, including our trip back to and from Kyoto JR Train Station.

We didn’t use their shared bath (and bathrooms are also shared with other guests), but instead went to the recommended Funaoka Onsen, a traditional bathhouse which is also a nationally designated landmark.

There was a grocery store next to the bus stop and a laundromat nearby, so backpackers like us could subsist on ramen noodles and minimal clothing. They had one laptop where you can access the internet for free. We would have rented their bikes, if we didn’t have a six-year-old traveling with us, and if the Kyoto streets weren’t so darn narrow with cars squeezing through. The proprietors spoke some English, and they had guide maps and instruction sheets in English. If you insist on visiting Kyoto in the middle of winter or summer, just be prepared for extreme weather conditions – the Machiya houses have no insulation or air conditioning.

I recommend Kingyo-ya highly as the best place to stay in Kyoto to get an authentic experience for 1/3 the price of ryokans, and for awesome, home-grilled cooking.

Read more at:
http://kamitera.com/2010/06/20/kingyo-ya-guest-house-in-kyoto/

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
8 Thank kamitera
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Guesthouse Kingyoya

Property: Guesthouse Kingyoya
Address: 243 Kankicho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8492, Kyoto Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto > Nishijin District
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #53 of 322 Specialty lodging in Kyoto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
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