Where: Kyoto, Japan
Type of travel: budget, sightseeing
My room: female dormitory
Season: Spring (March)
English language: fluent
Kingyoya (金魚屋) in Japanese means the house (屋) of a goldfish (金-metal 魚-fish). It’s a lovely, small, traditional guesthouse in the Nishijin area, Kyoto, run by a couple of very welcoming and helpful hosts. Both hosts and the staff talks English & Japanese.
„Easy to find when you take the bus and have a map.”
Location: Guesthouse is a little far from the main Kyoto station, but there’s a direct bus (#206) which runs very often and reach the place in 30 minutes. If you are not completely illiterate you will easily read this map, which will guide you directly to the heart of the traditional, calm Japanese district, where Kingyoya is located (only 2 turns from the #206 bus station: one left, after the „Honda” sign and then first right). It’s close to the Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilon), which you’ve probably seen on many postcards from Japan.
Architecture: The guesthouse is built in a traditional Japanese style: outside kitchen, two inner gardens (small and big one), outside bathroom and toilet (accessed through the garden). You need to remember of taking off your shoes and using another pair of slippers for garden and for toilet. Another thing is that traditional Japanese walls separating the rooms (fusuma) are made from thick paper which does not make them sound proof, so just be aware that you are not alone in a guesthouse. I believe it’s not a problem as long as no one is snoring… 😉
„The house is old but well-maintained, and I loved the feeling of being in a traditional Kyoto machiya. Rooms are basic but full of style. it is clean and cozy, the building itself is beautiful.”
Using outside bathroom is a big advantage. When it’s cool outside entering a bathroom may be challenging for common couch potatoes, but if you ever enjoyed Russian banya or the feeling of cooling down after a visit in Finnish sauna, you would love this outdoor passage between the main room and a bathroom. Moreover, the building is old and wooden, so when you start pouring hot water (remember to wash yourself / take shower OUT of the bathtub) you can feel the unique aroma of incensed wood.
During a cold season it may be a little cool inside, so the rooms (and a bathroom) are equipped with small heaters. They wouldn’t make you sweat from the heat, but they will create a decent warmth so all Canadians and Northern European will feel comfortable. The common room is equipped with kotatsu – a heated leg-warming table.
Food: What I enjoyed most were lovely, traditional and truly delicious breakfasts (700 yen). They’re served between 8 – 10 A.M. at the dinning room in front of innner garden. The menu vary on a daily basis. It’s fresh (vegetables come form a farm in the North of Kyoto) and home made. Accordingly to the Japanese rule of traditional washoku cuisine, it’s composed of seasonal food only. Not only it tastes good, but it looks beautiful. The composition and the utensils are carefully chosen and often decorated in a kingyo (goldfish, remember?) motif.
Note, that if you’re traveling with children under 5 y.o., they can get a miso soup and rice for free as an addiction to your breakfast.
„It’s one of the best choice if you are ready to experience some Japanese style: the way you sleep, you talk, shared bathroom, and food.”
Atmosphere: calm, relaxed. I enjoyed blogging in the dinning room in the evenings with a cup of (always hot) green tea and some wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) from 100yen shop nearby. It really feels like home, a Japanese one.
No pressure, no loud teenagers having a party all night. If you consider it „boring”, please don’t stay at Kingyoya and don’t spoil this perfect, intimate atmosphere.
Safety: 100/100 – I couldn’t feel any safer.
District / area: Nishijin is a Kyoto’s district famous from 1200 years long tradition of textile production. Since 794, when Kyoto became a capital of Japan, Nishijin provided the Imperial court and aristocracy with the fine textiles they needed.
Today Nishijin area is much calmer than overcrowded by tourists Gion. It’s a place where you can experience a real atmosphere of Kyoto, a mixture of old times and a post-war era. There’s a post office and a coin laundry nearby the guesthouse, as well as many places to eat and make shopping. I enjoyed wandering around the neighborhood and observing the everyday life of the Kyoto citizens: bonsai master working in his garden just around the corner, busy workers in car-repair workshop, an old lady praying in a tiny Shinto-shrine…
Don’t have a flight reservation to Japan yet? That’s OK, just pin it ↑ for later 🙂