This typically linear machiya house has a narrow riverside frontage opening onto a leafy water-view terrace


Stay like a local Kyotoite

Aoi Kamogawa-tei House

Among the most photogenic spots in Kyoto are the banks of the Kamo River, where locals like to take a daily stroll and the sight of diners on terrace eateries is a lively summer feature of the old capital. You can have the luxury of your own river-view house and private terrace at the Kamogawa-tei. Housed in a remodeled machiya townhouse, it is one of six such villas in the city run by Aoi Kyoto Stay. Each has a distinct style offering a unique Kyoto experience.

Here, past and present merge in a refined setting. An aged pillar transferred from a temple dating back a millennium decorates the Japanese-style main room, as does a roofing slate found in excavations at the site of the eighth-century Heijo-kyo capital. Yet the furnishings, such as Italian Cassina sofas, provide contemporary comfort. Within the refinement of the century-old machiya architecture, all the amenities including the bathroom are thoroughly modern, geared to meet the needs of today’s traveler.

Discreetly featured in the living room’s traditional tokonoma alcove is an earthenware flower vase from the Yayoi period (c. fourth century BC–AD third century), part of Aoi’s antique furnishings collection

Aoi Kamogawa-tei House

Le Machiya Mibu

The softly lit dining room combines Scandinavian-modern furnishings and the burnished woodwork of the original house

Hearing the two-car tram, endearingly called the Randen by locals, rattle by outside, you’ll feel as if you’ve been a Kyotoite for quite some time. Inside Le Machiya Mibu, a mid-century house with Japanese-style rooms renovated for a comfortable stay, Scandinavian-style furniture enlivens the decor, which retains original doors, windows, and screens. The bedrooms have futon mattresses laid out on tatami mats. With a fully modernized bathroom and kitchenette, the house is a good base for a long stay. The tram’s Nishioji-Sanjo Station is only steps away, making it easy to reach such popular stops as the Shijo downtown area; several UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Ninnaji temple; the Toei Uzumasa movie studios; and the Arashiyama district. For a deeper experience of Kyoto, a concierge is on hand to arrange for you to attend workshops at a venerable wagashi confectioner or Kyoto-style pickle shop. Mibu is one of four accommodation properties handled by the Le Machiya consortium (see website).

The façade of Le Machiya Mibu is typical of old Japanese townhouses. The leaves of Japanese maples by the entrance turn crimson in autumn, giving a little taste of the Kyoto seasons

Le Machiya Mibu

Jam Jar Lounge & Inn

Enjoy an Australian wine or a well-made cup of latte at the café’s bar

With mellow jazz wafting in the background, take a break from sightseeing to sip an espresso and enjoy a chat with jovial Australian owner Danny Matheson at the Jam Jar Lounge & Inn guesthouse, located in a converted 110-year-old machiya in Kyoto’s Nishijin weaving district. The café lounge on the first floor is cozy and charming, with the original earthen walls and lattice windows seamlessly blending with a tasteful selection of vintage Australian furniture and Art Deco lights and stained glass.

The guest rooms, one on the first floor and another on the second, have a serene style, thoughtfully achieved with details such as lacquered washi paper in contrasting colors on the fusuma sliding doors. The guests-only entrance at the back of the building helps ensure total privacy. The second-floor guest room comes equipped with a kitchenette, great for a carefree extended stay, just as if you were a real machiya resident.

This guest room offers a private view of the courtyard garden

Jam Jar Lounge & Inn


2020 Spring / Summer

Delectable Japan