For the past few years, my wife and I have made it a point to take our son to Kyoto for an annual family holiday. Two years ago, we stayed in a gorgeous, 2-story, one bedroom machiya in Gion. Last year, we decided (since our little boy is growing up) to go for a two bedroom house. After much Internet searching, we settled on a cute 2-story, two bedroom machiya just south of Gojo Dori, right by the Kamo River. More specifically, it was on a tiny lane, one street away from the river. Running through the lane was a lovely canal, along which you could take nice walks.
The location meant we could easily walk across the river (by bridge of course) and into Gion in just a few minutes. Plus we could walk north along Teramachi Dori, which at the intersection of Shijo Dori turns into a pedestrian-only shopping street, into the main touristy parts of Kawaramachi as well as Nishiki Market. The Kiyomizu Gojo train station was just across the river and the Gojo station was a few minutes walk west. The neighborhood itself was very quiet and very charming. It was also very local.
Admittedly, in terms of aesthetics this house didn’t compare with the uber-designer one we stayed in the previous year. It was homier, but it was more comfortable. (And cheaper.) And it had a larger kitchen, which meant we could enjoy eating in. In fact, on most days, we decided to have breakfast in, which we all really enjoyed. Our son and my wife enjoyed not being rushed (by me) to leave the house to get to a specific cafe I’d earmarked before it got too crowded (which is often what I make my family do on holidays); while I enjoyed cooking with the wonderful ingredients available in Japan.
I also liked that the house was equipped with smart gear. I was especially happy to see a Nespresso machine in the kitchen — always a good sign. The laundry machines were easy to use. The two bedrooms were very spacious. The futons were comfy. And the neighbourhood was quiet. My only gripe, but this is universal for machiyas in Kyoto, was that the staircase was really narrow. I kept worrying that the little guy would tumble down the stairs but I think in the end he was steadier on his feet than either my wife or me.
The Kyomizu House, as the owner has called it, is a great alternative to a hotel for a family looking for a more local experience. We always like staying in private homes in Kyoto because it makes us feel like we’re really experiencing living in the city.
You can check out the details here. Kiyomizu House. Oh, and the owner, as of late last year, has launched a larger rental home, which he’s called Kiyomizu Villa. This property is a tiny bit larger and is just south of the heart of Gion. So now you have choices on either side of the Kamo river to consider.