Stay in a Historic Home in Kyoto


While visiting Kyoto, the former capital of Japan steeped in rich history, why not enhance your experience by staying in a historic house that is nearly 100 years old? Bairin-an (“Plum Grove”) is one of three units within a large machiya (wooden traditional townhouse) called Kyo Machiya Miyabi that was renovated to include modern facilities for added comfort, and is available for short-term rental.


The design was completed by a renowned Kyoto-based architect, Geoffrey P. Moussas, who specializes in historic preservation of machiya. I really appreciated all of the original wood in the home, scarred by decades of every day use. Typical of a machiya, Bairin-An has an interior private garden and interesting interior features such as sliding windows made of paper between living spaces.


Bairin-An is located in the famous Gion district of Kyoto where you can still see geisha walking in full kimono gear and white make-up, if you are lucky! Its location makes it an ideal home base for travelers, a short walk to Kyoto’s bustling business district, but on a quiet residential street that makes you feel like a local resident. It is within walking distance of many famous temples, including Kiyomizu Temple, a designated World Cultural Heritage site and a first stop for many visiting Kyoto.

I especially enjoyed burrowing in the comfortable futon bed after a long day of sightseeing (if you’ve ever slept on a good futon, you know there’s no sleep quite like it!), then waking up and having a cup of green tea while looking out over the private garden.

Do you seek out places with character and history over a modern hotel?

2 Replies to “Stay in a Historic Home in Kyoto”

  1. My answer to your last question is: not usually. That said, I will totally stay here. I love it so much. Japanese design aesthetics might be my very favorite. LOVE the clean, minimalist (and sometimes asymmetrical) lines and the paper windows. I’m in love.

    1. Stacey, I know what you mean about Japanese design. I love it, too, and find it very soothing. I think one of the main reasons I travel is to chase some fantasy about being / living in another culture or another era, which is why I love to stay places like castles in Europe, and historic houses in Japan. Other people travel to relax, be pampered, enjoy luxury, etc., and often old buildings are quirky without all of the modern comforts. This house in Kyoto was indeed a bit drafty, but the experience far outweighed any inconveniences for me. I hope you do get to stay there someday!

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