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A Different Side of Kyoto: 8 Lodgings with Unique Activities

2021.02.21

Take a trip outside of Kyoto City to discover authentic Japanese lifestyles. This article introduces eight accommodations that offer firsthand experiences of Japanese culture through activities. These lodgings are located in nature-rich areas by the seaside and mountainside in Kyoto Prefecture.

Nature and Traditional Culture: Discover Another Side of Kyoto

Let’s take a trip outside the bustling metropolis of Kyoto City to other areas of Kyoto Prefecture. We’ll find peaceful, culturally rich lifestyles that developed through communion with nature. These serene lifestyles may coincide with the very image of Japan that brought you here in the first place!

In this article, we introduce accommodations that are worth visiting for the unique activities they provide. From cooking a Japanese home meal to workshops on traditional crafts or staying in a thatched-roof house, these activities will enrich your image of Japan and give you an insider’s view of traditional culture. The following eight lodgings are located on the seaside and mountainside of Kyoto, as well as in regions famous for tea or bamboo production.

1. WATER FRONT INN Yosaso – Feel like a Local with a Boathouse Stay in Ine

The charming town of Ine on Kyoto Prefecture’s coast is best known for the historic funaya boathouses lining the water. However, this picturesque scene isn’t just for viewing from afar–you can actually spend the night here!

WATER FRONT INN Yosaso, a lodging renovated from a boathouse, is an excellent option for anyone wishing to learn about the local lifestyle and unwind.

This charming guest house has just eight rooms and is right on the water, featuring simple, traditional Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats and futons that provide a relaxing stay. The waterfront rooms come with a balcony–be sure to step outside onto the deck in the morning for a refreshing sea breeze, and a fantastic view of the boathouses and residents embarking on their daily fishing trips.

Yosaso also offers breakfast and dinner made using local ingredients, making it a convenient solution as there aren’t numerous options for meals in Ine. Be sure to make an advanced reservation if you’re interested in staying here as the rooms become fully booked quickly. Check here to inquire about bookings.

2. Maruyasu – A Dream Lodging for Foodies in Amanohashidate

Picture courtesy of Maruyasu

For an extraordinarily delicious lodging experience, stay the night at Maruyasu in Amanohashidate, an accommodation facility run by a Japanese sake sommelier on the staff. Maruyasu is a short walk from the famous land strait of Amanohashidate, giving guests the freedom of leisurely exploring this beautiful area, known as one of Japan’s best three scenic sites.

Picture courtesy of Maruyasu

The rooms at Maruyasu are comfortable and have traditional Japanese fixtures, like tatami mats and futons. Guests will feel relaxed resting in the rooms after a day of sightseeing in the area!

Picture courtesy of Maruyasu

Maruyasu specializes in seafood dishes. The owner, a certified sake sommelier, will pair the ideal sake that suits your tastes and the dish it accompanies. The owner and staff will try their best to accommodate your preferences and speak basic English.

A small shopping street with stores and cafes is close by. Amanohashidate Viewland, a theme park overlooking the area, is a short walk away, and crossing the strait will bring visitors to Kasamatsu Park, another great place to experience Amanohashidate.

3. Glamp Dome Kyoto Amanohashidate – Experience Coastal Kyoto’s Outdoors

Picture courtesy of Glamp Dome Kyoto Amanohashidate/Marinetopia

For a comfortable experience outdoors any time of the year, stay a night at Glamp Dome Kyoto Amanohashidate. Ideal for those traveling in groups or with family, the spacious tents here provide the right balance of nature and luxury in a quiet location near Amanohashidate.

Picture courtesy of Glamp Dome Kyoto Amanohashidate/Marinetopia

The lodgings here are not what you’d expect when camping: the spacious glamping domes (dome-shaped tents) are complete with beds and a sofa, and have a big window overlooking the natural surroundings––including a spectacular sunrise. For a meal, you can rent a barbecue to grill up something outdoors, or bring in food and drink to enjoy in your private space.

This relaxing option is ideal for a laidback trip to one of Kyoto’s most famous regions. Each glamping dome comes with modern amenities, and guests can use a private natural hot spring bath on the grounds, too (available on a reservation basis).

4. Satoyama Guest House Couture – Japanese Cooking and Night Safari in Ayabe

If you dream of recharging amid nature by taking forest walks or resting by a clear river, Ayabe is the perfect destination for you. Ayabe Station can be reached in about 70 minutes by limited express train from Kyoto.

Our recommended lodging in Ayabe is Satoyama Guest House Couture, run by a married couple who moved here from Osaka in search of a lifestyle closer to nature.

At Couture, guests can enjoy a dormitory-style room-share stay for 3,000 yen/night per person, or rent the whole house for 5,000 yen/person.

One of the activities that can be enjoyed at Couture is home-cooking with Mrs. Kuchu, your hostess. You can help out with chopping vegetables for dinner or breakfast dishes. All the ingredients are acquired from local farmers.

If you’ve always wanted to learn to cook Japanese cuisine, this is your chance to learn how daily dishes are cooked and served. At Couture, you can experience living in a Japanese household.

Another exciting activity that can only be enjoyed at Couture is the “Night Safari.” Mr. Kuchu, a licensed guide, will take you on a drive through Ayabe at night when the animal inhabitants of the forest come out into the village!

It’s not rare to spot deer even during the day, but at night the fields and streets of the village are filled with deer! During a 30-minute drive, we had several encounters with deer, as well as with foxes and raccoons crossing our way just two or three meters away.

Komyoji Temple, with a gate designated a national treasure, Ayabe Onsen – a resort with excellent hot springs, as well as a cedar forest famous for fringed irises are all located nearby, so it’s worth spending several days at leisure in Ayabe.

5. Staying at a Thatched-Roof House in Miyama

If the rustic atmosphere of the Kayabuki-no-Sato village in Nantan’s Miyama district has stolen your heart, you might want to spend some time here and experience the traditional lifestyle yourself. The locals take pride in preserving their thatched-roof houses. Some of these are century-old, and their residents will be happy to tell you how the thatch roofs are made and maintained.

If you want to stay right in heart of Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato, the area designated a historical building preservation district, we recommend Minshuku Matabe (Japanese). An overnight stay with two meals included starts from 9,000 yen/person. The lodging has three individual Japanese-style tatami rooms and an irori fireplace where guests and the hosts can gather for a chat.

Another beautiful guesthouse in Kayabuki-no-Sato is Minshuku Hisaya (Japanese). The price for an overnight stay with meals depends on the number of guests but is around 14,000 yen per person. If you visit as a family or group, the whole house can be rented. The meals consist of homecooked dishes prepared with flavourful local ingredients.

For those who wish to stay in a thatched-roof house all by themselves, we suggest Miyama Futon & Breakfast. You can choose from four different cottages that have been renovated and provided with all the necessary amenities for a comfortable, stylish stay. The facility offers support in English.

6. Logos Land – Outdoor Activities and Camping Indoors Near Uji and Nara

LOGOS LAND is an outdoor leisure facility in southern Kyoto, located between Uji and Nara. Ideal for those with children or in a group, the spacious, stylish rooms here provide a beginner-friendly camping experience that can be enjoyed regardless of the weather outside.

The guestrooms here contain the necessities for a camping trip, and nothing more. There is no Wi-Fi or television set in the rooms, allowing you to be more present and enjoy the experience.

Guests can choose between the Plum Inn and the Iris Inn, which both have large rooms that fit at least four guests. The Plum Inn has rooms with tents, bunk beds, and a wheelchair-friendly option, too.

The Iris Inn also has several types of rooms also ideal for a camping experience. The rooms on the first floor have a terrace. The campsite-type rooms (above) are charming and may remind you of your childhood if you’ve camped inside your bedroom before. There is even an electric campfire for an evening of fun.

For food, breakfast is provided at the restaurant, and dinner and lunch are also served (separate fee required, those with dietary restrictions should inquire in advance). LOGOS is a Japanese outdoor gear brand that is known for its style and quality. All of the room furnishings and rental gear here are made by this brand, and you can purchase the merchandise at the lodging store if you’d like.

7. Enu to Enu – A Tea-Filled Stay at a Traditional Farmhouse in Wazuka

Farmstay Enu to Enu is a traditional tea farmhouse-turned-guesthouse, surrounded by the picturesque tea fields of Wazuka. The tea-based activities and homemade tea-infused cuisine here are a must for tea lovers and anyone curious to learn about Japanese green tea.

The lodging here is limited to one party per night, meaning your stay will be private and comfortable. The hostess and her family do their best to make you feel at home with their hospitality.

Breakfast of rice porridge with tea leaves, matcha salt, and tea-infused vegetable side dishes

A night’s stay comes with an exquisite homemade dinner and breakfast, using vegetables and ingredients grown from their garden, infused with tea leaves, matcha, and other tea-based ingredients. Everything is delicious and satisfying––ideal for enjoying after and before a full day of sightseeing. If you have dietary restrictions, please inquire when you make a reservation.

Guests can also participate in one-of-a-kind activities at Enu to Enu, from tasting delicious shade-grown gyokuro tea from their fields nearby and whisk their own cup of matcha in the morning. You can add on extra activities, too, like a tour through the family’s extensive tea fields to tea picking (available only during certain seasons).

8. Hotel Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo – Bamboo Crafts and Interacting with Locals

Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo is a stylish hotel located a 30 second walk away from Nagaoka-tenjin Station. The first floor is a dining area connected to the cafe-bar SUBACO, which has become a favorite place to meet and socialize for many locals.

Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo offers several cultural activities, including Japanese calligraphy, tea ceremony, origami, and others. One of their unique activities is the bamboo crafts workshop held by a professional bamboo artisan. You can make either a bamboo basket or a ring out of bamboo.

Nagaokakyo, where the hotel is located, is famous for its bamboo production. The artisan will tell you about the features of bamboo and what makes it an ideal material for crafts. After that, you’ll be making your own bamboo object, which will become a lovely keepsake from your stay in Kyoto.

To apply for this activity, please make a reservation in advance at discover@irodorifactory.com . For more details, please visit the official website of Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo.

Another activity you can sign up for is a free 30-minute English conversation session with locals. Mrs. and Mr. Uchino, who are also hotel owners and have many years of experience introducing Japanese culture to the world, are happy to interact with travelers in English. You ask the locals about the great places to visit and things to do in the area. If you want to make friends in Japan, Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo is a great place to start from!

For a Memorable Stay in Kyoto

If you wish to get a deeper insight into authentic Japanese lifestyles, take a trip outside of Kyoto City to districts like Ine and Miyazu, Ayabe, Nantan, Joyo, Wazuka, and Nagaokakyo. You’ll be amazed to discover that each area has distinct features that form the roots of traditional Japanese culture. Take your time to enjoy the unique ambiance and activities offered by the lodgings introduced above, where a stay becomes an unforgettable life-time experience.