Kyoto is the capital of ‘bespoke’. We love visiting, not only because of our long affiliation with Japan, but also because it is easy to get lost in its many alleys and find a business or craft still practised the same as the 1600’s. For instance, on a visit a couple of years ago wandering around Higashinotoin Matsubara we stumbled across a traditional shopfront with banners reading Ueba Esou. We asked to have a look, and were shown through a maze of rooms where artisans were grinding minerals and precious stones to make the pigments for traditional Japanese painting, sitting at their station as they had been doing since the business was established around 1600. Our host informed us that she was the 14th generation of this family business. So when creating our bespoke accommodation, we had to celebrate Kyoto, which we do in our Kyoto terrace that resembles a spacious ‘machiya’.
Kyoto is the ancient Japanese capital, modelled on the ancient Chinese capital of Xian. At one time it was known as Heian-kyo, the tranquillity and peace capital. Being the home of not only the Emperor, but also the military and samurai, this peace and tranquillity did not last long. It was extensively destroyed in the 15th century as samurai factions, court nobility and even religious factions battled for the spoils of power. Fortunately, Kyoto was spared the destruction of the Second World War when the US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, personally intervened to remove it from the atomic bomb target list because he knew of it’s significance having spent his honeymoon there.
The unique aesthetic of Kyoto, it’s simple refined elegance, is essentially the byproduct of the Imperial families and their religious dedication. The many world heritage temples were built over a thousand years as successive Imperial generations sought to create buildings and gardens of timeless beauty. The work of the temple and palace carpenters was complimented by the kimono weavers, the metal workers, ceramicists and sake makers. When in Kyoto we like to stay at Shunkoin a hermitage in the grounds of Myoshinji, the largest of the Rinzai Zen temples. The grounds were originally the palace of Emperor Hanazono and became a temple when he abdicated in 1318 and became a monk.
We were introduced to the art of hospitality in Kyoto with each visit being a special experience. Like at Shunkoin, we also provide complimentary bikes so you can explore our neighbourhood. We have been inspired by the simple, elegant and sparse design and decoration that we found in Kyoto and believe that you will also find ‘one of a kind apartments’ an experience of ‘peace and tranquillity’.