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Arashiyama's Hoshinoya Kyoto - A Complete Guide to an Incredible Inn

Arashiyama's Hoshinoya Kyoto - A Complete Guide to an Incredible Inn

Date published: 1 August 2019
Last updated: 2 August 2019

Arashiyama is one of the most notable scenic spots in Kyoto. Many international tourists visit hoping to view the seasonal scenery, and the area is lively with visitors year-round. Hoshinoya Kyoto is an inn located away from the crowds in an area surrounded by peace and quiet that continues to fascinate travelers.

Located within view just up the river from the symbol of Arashiyama, Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Hoshinoya Kyoto provides a Japanese resort experience that will make you forget all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

A 100-year Old Building, Now a "Waterfront Residence"

A 100-year Old Building, Now a "Waterfront Residence"

Hoshinoya Kyoto, managed by Japan's premiere resort operation company, opened for business in 2009. The wooden building from over 100 years ago was renovated in the style of a "waterfront residence" and reborn with a new, more polished atmosphere. The reason the inn receives such approval from international visitors is for its natural environment, quietness, out-of-the-ordinary setting, and its sense of unique Kyoto and Japanese culture.

The staff also approaches customer service with a spirit of "omotenashi" hospitality, and since most employees speak English, stayers should experience no inconveniences. Staff proficient in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish are also available.

A 15-Minute Boat Ride to Enjoy Seasonal Scenery

A 15-Minute Boat Ride to Enjoy Seasonal Scenery

A boat will transport you to the other-worldly environment that is Hoshinoya Kyoto. Board the boat at the foot of Togetsu-kyo Bridge and take an approximately 15-minute ride up Ooigawa River. During the leisurely cruise, the sights of cherry blossoms in the spring, fresh greenery in the summer, colorful leaves in fall, and snowfall in winter will delight your eyes. Getting to see the scenery that you can only view from aboard a boat is yet another part of the other-worldly experience. The hospitality of Hoshinoya Kyoto has already begun. Excitement and expectation for your stay at the inn will grow by the minute.

Scents, Lights, and Unique Japanese Hospitality

Guests receive an explanation of how to check in before boarding the boat, so once you reach the inn, you can continue straight to your room, a nice perk for tired travelers who wish to relax right away. All of Hoshinoya Kyoto's guest rooms have views of the river, and the 25 rooms come in 5 types. Guest rooms are dispersed around the premises, and you will pass through a garden to get there. As one example, room number 120 is equipped with both a Japanese-style room and a Western-style room.

When you open the sliding door and go inside, you will be greeted by the scent of a sachet of incense, a tradition continued in Kyoto since the Edo period. You may also notice that the lights in the room are kept low. Minimum illumination is used at the inn in order to allow guests to be surrounded by the beauty of natural light. The lights and shadows of the room may bring to mind Japanese author Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's essay "In Praise of Shadows" for some guests.

The Luxury of a Simply Gazing Out the Window

The Luxury of a Simply Gazing Out the Window

When you walk into guest room 120's Japanese-style room, the first thing you will see is the large window constructed to face the river. The window frame borders the scenery just like a picture frame. Set in front of the window is a low, tatami room sofa, calculated to be at the same height as if you were kneeling. Prepare to be fascinated by the scenery you can see at the unique low eye level of a Japanese room as you simply relax and gaze out the window. Many travelers reportedly take this very opportunity.

Also be sure to notice the Japanese room's fusuma, the fixture used to partition the room. Kyoto karakami, high-quality printing paper, is used on the fusuma and it glitters delicately when the light hits is, making the pattern stand out in 3-D. This karakami is also used on the bed headboard in the bedroom, so you can begin and end each day with a piece of profound Kyoto culture.

Two Different Styles of Garden

Two Different Styles of Garden

Let's delve into yet another of Hoshinoya Kyoto's attractions - the "Water Garden". The Water Garden consists of two waterfalls and a lake, and you will pass through it on your way to the guest rooms. Here you can sit and enjoy your favorite coffee, herbal tea, or alcoholic beverage. Use the space however you like, whether it's to listen to the sound of the waterfalls or mingle with the inn employees. Every day beginning at 3:00 PM, there is a musical performance played on original derivatives of traditional Buddhist instruments.

The "Inner Garden" is a garden which depicts a flowing river using roofing tiles and white gravel. The garden, modeled after a traditional Japanese rock garden, is greatly popular with international guests, who remark on the garden's feeling of "zen". In the fall, there are nodate, or outdoor tea ceremonies, performed underneath the 300-400 year old maple trees. Guests will surely be able to sense the charm and elegance of Japanese culture in the inn's gardens.

"Welcome Wagashi" in a Renovated Storehouse

"Welcome Wagashi" in a Renovated Storehouse

The "Salon & Bar Kura", located in what once used to be a warehouse and utilizing the warehouse's original crossbeams and windows, is a space in which you can feel a unique Japanese aura. Here you can enjoy a free welcome drink and dessert. Among the desserts are some sweets made by Kyoto's old, traditional sweet shops especially for Hoshinoya Kyoto. You can get a sense of the traditional cooking arts utilizing seasonal ingredients. At night, the space operates as a bar where you can enjoy Japanese whiskey.

Be Fulfilled by the Scenery from the "Aerial Tearoom"

Be Fulfilled by the Scenery from the "Aerial Tearoom"

In the "Library Lounge", adjacent to the inn's front desk, there are books about Kyoto, so it may be nice to do some research while you enjoy your free snack and drink. One other recommended spot to visit is the "Aerial Tea Room", built on the deck adjoining the lounge. It's easy to lose track of time as a pleasant breeze blows by while you gaze down at the Ooigawa River below, the majestic mountains before you, and the train running through the center of the mountains.

A Course Meal by a Head Chef Who Received Michelin Stars at "Umu"

A Course Meal by a Head Chef Who Received Michelin Stars at "Umu"

One of the best parts of traveling is the food. The dinner served in the inn's dining hall is a traditional Japanese course meal that is a fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine. The head chef is Ichiro Kubota, who was born into a family running a kappo Japanese traditional cooking style restaurant in Gion, Kyoto. After culinary training in Japan and France, he worked as the executive chef of London's "Umu" restaurant, where his talents in cooking earned him a Michelin star rating in just 4 months. You'll experience the profoundness of Japanese cuisine by tasting Kubota's cooking.

Breakfast is eaten in your room, and if you choose the Japanese-style breakfast, you can enjoy a popular vegetable hot pot meal. Experiencing the deliciousness of Kyoto's seasonal vegetables while enjoying the seasonal landscape will most certainly be a fulfilling part of your trip.

Enjoy a Japanese "Wa" (harmony) experience with the “Introduction to Incense” and “Zen Meditation” programs!

Enjoy a Japanese "Wa" (harmony) experience with the “Introduction to Incense” and “Zen Meditation” programs!

There are also many programs available to help you make your stay at the inn meaningful and valuable. Some programs, like the "Introduction to Incense Smelling" and the early morning "Zen Meditation" at a Zen temple allow you to casually connect with Japanese culture, so why not try participating in one that matches your interests?

Your time at Hoshinoya Kyoto will conclude with a boat ride back to the original boarding area. In the lounge area there you can purchase items from the inn such as incense, sweets, and pajamas as souvenirs. Bring back a memory of Hoshinoya Kyoto and look forward to the day you can experience the charm of the inn once again.

  • HOSHINOYA Kyoto
    星のや 京都
    • Address 11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 〒616-0007

    Telephone: 0570-073-066 (Hoshinoya integrated reservations center for national calls) / +81-50-3786-1144 (Hoshinoya integrated reservations center for international calls)

Text by:word

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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