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“A great way to experience traditional Japanese travelling”
Review of Ryokan Tazuru

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Ryokan Tazuru
Ranked #133 of 369 Hotels / Ryokan in Kyoto
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“A great way to experience traditional Japanese travelling”
Reviewed January 30, 2014

We stayed at Tazuru for 2 nights in December 2013, whilst travelling around Japan. It was the last stop before Tokyo, and is in a really cool part of Kyoto. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, and would recommend it for anyone willing to give something a little bit different a go.

The staff are very friendly and welcoming, although most speak little to no English (we expected this to be a common theme through Japan anyway, so it wasn't a problem). The room was quite big and comprised of a small hallway with shoe storage, the main living and sleeping area, a separate, smaller TV/ storage room (behind the Shoji screens), shower room and toilet room. When you arrive, you are shown to your room and are asked to remove your shoes at the door. You then don a pair of room slippers and go into the main living area, which is lovely and is just the way you imagine a traditional Japanese room to be; tatami floor, Shoji screens separating the parts of the room etc. Upon arrival, there is a table and some chair mats on the floor. The bed is actually a futon, which is hidden away in a cupboard.

Once you leave for the evening meal (either in the hotel or out in Kyoto), the staff go into the room, move table out of the way and lay out the futons, which are surprisingly comfortable to sleep on. This was quite unexpected for me. We only ate breakfast in the hotel as the evening meal was extra and quite expensive (be aware of this as many Ryokans offer the evening meal in the price, as it's traditionally a meal served in the room), so can't comment on how it was.

I've read that many Ryokans impose fairly strict curfew times, and although the main doors at Tazuru are closed at midnight and they do prefer guests come back by this time, they are obviously used to tourists who stay out a little longer and will provide a door code for late night entry.

The breakfast was different on both days. You can choose to go down for breakfast in the loose cotton yukata (similar to a kimono) provided, for the full experience. It was very well presented, and seemed to be of good quality. Although it is strictly served at certain times in the morning. We opted for the latest time of 8:30. As you can imagine, fish is not the most appetizing thing to eat early in the morning, and the breakfast comprises lots of fish and seafood-related products (I couldn't even identify half of what I ate), and the pink fishy-smelling "goo" was probably the least appetizing of all. But I found the best thing to do was to just dive right in and try everything. Failing that, there are some standard breakfast items like toast and coffee.

There are public baths at Tazuru, which are gender separated, depending on the time of day (they alternate which of the baths is male and which female). I didn't go in, but my partner did and she loved it.

So, there you have it. I'd definitely recommend a stay in a Ryokan if visiting Japan, and Tazuru is near to the Gion district of Kyoto, which is very close to bars, restaurants (there's a great Korean-style barbecue restaurant just down the street) and shopping areas. Although you can get the full experience from just 1 night, so if you're travelling round and on a budget, you might not need the 2.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank odinel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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74 reviews from our community

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English first
Makati, Philippines
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 17, 2013

We took a side trip to Kyoto from Tokyo via the bullet train (which was so expensive!) to see and experience the old Japan and its traditional Ryokan way. The staff were very courteous and warm, even though we didn't understand half of what they were saying. :) We donned kimonos and slept on the floor. I'm so glad we did this whole cultural adventure and took a respite from the the very cosmopolitan Tokyo.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Gen E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed September 11, 2013

I have to give this hotel a good review for how accommodating they were. My girlfriend doesn't like seafood, something we never considered telling our travel agents when we booked, we kind of thought she'd manage. When we arrived we told the staff, in very limited Japanese, this and they replied in very limited English. After a stuggle to get our message across the staff were more than happy to give my girlfriend a vegetarian option, they pushed back out dinner half an hour to let the chef have a bit more prep time. The food itself was a beautiful exciting adventure (not always delicious though), some of it definitely wasn't for the western pallete, but you don't stay in a Ryokan for that! Breakfast was another traditional Japanese experience, I have never been served what I was served, let alone in the morning, so you might need to power through and pick up a pastry from a local shop. However, warning: there is a huge waste-not-want-not culture in Japan and it's polite to try to eat everything served up in front of you. There is only a sink and toilet in the room, if you want a bath you have to go to the large shared baths, as in most Ryokan. The room was clean and had a lovely aroma of green tea and bamboo. It was an experience, I might do it again, but I don't think my girlfriend would as the food wasnt to her taste and we're not really into bathing naked with others.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tomwninety1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Renfrew, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed May 27, 2013

We recently stayed here for 1 night in order to experience a more traditonal view of Japan. Glad we did this as it was a cultural adventure. The hotel is well situated and backs on to the river. It was easy to find our way about.
The staff were very helpful and keen to ensure a great stay. We didn't expect perfect english and managed to communicate well enough.
The room was as expected - traditional mats/chairs etc. Air conditioning, tv, western style toilet. Staff make up your beds when you are at dinner. Out of 8 nights this was the best night's sleep we both had. You may have difficulty with this type of room if you are unable to easily get up and down from floor level. The traditional bathing was very relaxing however, be prepared to go public!
The traditional meal was a culinary mystery tour that I will always remember. Everything was well presented, tasted great and was enhanced by the excellent service of the staff. Don't expect bacon and eggs for breakfast and enjoy the experience. It would be difficult to criticise as an experience but 1 night was ample.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Mariedoll50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed May 23, 2013 via mobile

We booked our stay through our travel agent who recommended this ryokan. I stayed 2 nights. Overall great stay and very hospitable staff. I had many opportunities to practice my Japanese as the staff speak limited English. There were both many Japanese locals and foreign tourists staying while we were there. Onsen was small but nice and has nice views of the city at night.

Japanese breakfast is excellent!
You can decide to order it upon arrival. It is located downstairs in the main area facing the river. Must select a seating time for breakfast.

Location is excellent with blocks of the Kyoto city bus (see map in lobby), pontocho, Nishiki Market, Gion Corner and Kawaramachi station. Kinkakuji is about a 40 min bus ride. We had a JR pass and arrived at Kyoto Station and it was about a 10 min taxi ride (depending on traffic). A bit far to walk with luggage.

Only downside is that wifi is accessible only in the lobby area and not in the rooms.

Excellent price and location, will recommend to friends!

Tip: Be sure to have the address written down in Japanese for the taxi driver or show a screen shot of the address/map from
TripAdvisor. Also leave a small tip in the room upon check out for their services.

  • Stayed May 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Cindy A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2013

We stayed here for three nights in late December, 2012. The staff has limited English, but works hard to make Americans feel welcome (we had enough Japanese that we had no problems at all). There is a very helpful booklet in the room that explains how everything works in both Engligh and Japanese. While the building may appear older, it is immaculate and spacious, with heat/ac controlled in each room.

The location is great for sightseeing around Kyoto, very close to bus (and subway) lines that will take you to the sights or the train station. Walking distance to Kiyomizu-dera and Gion. Returning back each afternoon or evening we received tea and a traditional sweet delivered to our rooms, a very nice, welcoming touch. Tea and hot water was always available in the room.

We had a very traditional Japanese breakfast each morning, which was beautifully presented and delicious. It was the morning version of a kaiseki dinner; there is nothing western about it, so if you think you'd miss your toast/eggs/coffee/cereal, etc. plan extra time in your morning to find it elsewhere.

Don't pass up the opportunity to experience the two traditional Japanese baths (ofuro) in the ryokan. Double-check with the front desk to make sure you know which one is designated for men and which for women...while we were there it switched around. The 7th floor bath is usually for men only, and the 5th floor for women only, but one night only the 7th floor was being used (occupant would lock the door) and another night the 5th floor was used this way. I believe this was because there were very few occupants at the hotel on these nights.

Regarding "laserkid"'s review: the negatives mentioned seem to indicate a lack of understanding of how ryokan work. The futon will be pulled out into the room at night and put away in the morning...this is the traditional Japanese way since space is at a premium. Bathrooms are often not heated, thus plenty of hot water and heated toilet seats.

Overall, this is an excellent ryokan for expericencing traditional Japanese life. You should decide for yourself how many days/nights of this you are up for...by the end of the third night my family was ready to move on to a more Westernized setting.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank nhoetker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lodz, Poland
Level 6 Contributor
821 reviews
290 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 444 helpful votes
Reviewed May 3, 2011

We spent in Tazuru one night. The Ryokan is conveniently located close to Gion street. In the front of our windows, along the street, we had plenty of cherry trees in blosssom and it was really fantastic.
Our room was not spacious, so the mattress for the night was put in the middle of the traditional room. The bathroom, equipped on the Western style was very small and not heated. The staff was very polite, but speaking only a little English.
The dinner. we have got in the room, was good. You can order also wine to the meal. However, the next morning breakfast, was rather controversial, in spite of the fact, we are very open for the all Asian tastes.
Considering the price, we have paid, we were slightly disappointed. But of course, do not miss to spend minimum one night in the traditional ryokan in Japan.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank laserkid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ryokan Tazuru

Property: Ryokan Tazuru
Address: 179-1 Minoyacho, Matsubaraagaru, Kiyamachidori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8015, Kyoto Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto > Shimogyo-ku
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #133 of 369 Hotels / Ryokan in Kyoto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Ryokan Tazuru 3*
Number of rooms: 15
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