20 Best Japanese Ryokan Inns for a Blissful Stay in Kyoto

Kyoto, a city that more than 50 million people visiting yearly, is full of wonderful ryokans (traditional Japanese inns). There are inns where you can taste the seasonal Kyoto cuisine, inns with onsen hot springs in which you can relax, etc. Here are some ryokans where you can fully experience Kyoto's traditional culture.

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1. Hoshinoya Kyoto [Arashiyama]

Hoshinoya is a ryokan (Japanese Inn) on the Oigawa riverbank at the foot of Mt. Arashiyama. You can take a boat from Togetsu Bridge to the ryokan so you can fully experience the noble atmosphere within the splendid scenery. The charming open-air tearoom and the water garden is popular. Forgetting all your troubles in luxury, here at Mt. Arashiyama which was originally a summer resort for nobles.

2. Togetsutei [Arashiyama]

This beloved ryokan in Arashiyama was founded more than a century ago. You can get there from the southern end of the Togetsu Bridge, and it's a surprisingly calm and quiet ryokan. You can enjoy traditional Kyoto cuisine made with tofu or yuba (dried beancurd) while gazing out at the Arashiyama scenery. The onsen baths are filled with natural hot spring water from Arashiyama.

3. Arashiyama Benkei [Arashiyama]

This ryokan sits across from Mt. Arashiyama on the riverbank of the Oigawa. It is blessed with a supreme view of the natural scenery throughout all four seasons. You can enjoy Kyoto cuisine made using local ingredients while gazing out at the beautiful sight. Its onsen is also supplied by the Arashiyama hot springs. It is convenient when going out to various shrines and temples in the Arashiyama area.

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4. Ryotei Rangetsu [Arashiyama]

This is a new ryokan sitting upstream of the Togetsu Bridge. It's very popular for being a hidden inn within the refined scenery of Mt. Arashiyama. Decorated in a luxurious, modern style, it welcomes visitors with a comfortable atmosphere. It offers the only bath in Arashiyama where the water flows straight from the source, in which you can refresh your body and mind entirely.

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5. Hanaikada [Arashiyama]

This is a small ryokan in the vicinity of Togetsu Bridge. The rooms are spacious and very calming. There are also rooms that have open air baths attached. The chef himself goes to the markets every day to get the freshest ingredients available for the daily meals. There are also one-day plans where you can also enjoy the hot springs.

6. Sumiya Ryokan [Kawaramachi]

Sumiya is a well-established ryokan and you can feel Kyoto's history if you stay here.  Tea ceremony masters stay here often, as it is known as Kyoto's only tea ceremony ryokan. Every part of the meal is made expertly, and not only are the flavors rich but the appearance is beautiful.

7. Hiiragiya Ryokan [Kawaramachi]

This wooden two-story refined Japanese-style ryokan was built in 1818. It was made with the idea that visitors should feel like they are coming home. One of its major charms is the Kyoto-style garden that can be seen from the rooms. You can easily access Shin-kyogoku and Gion from here.

8. Tawaraya Ryokan [Kawaramachi]

This ryokan exerts great care towards their patrons, a list that includes Steve Jobs. The expertly-maintained garden, the Japanese-style calming rooms, the seasonal meals, all of it together creates an atmosphere of the highest level. Tawaraya Ryokan's original soap is popular as a souvenir.

9. Ikumatsu [Kawaramachi]

One of the three great nobles that were part of the Meiji Restoration, Takayoshi Kido, lived here with a geisha named Ikumatsu. Afterwards, it was designated as a national tangible cultural property. It is furnished with defense holes and large rocks to attack the enemies during battle and those still remain on the premises today, enabling you to picture the scenes of the past.

10. Seikoro [Gion]

This ryokan with the feeling of romance from the Taisho era (1912-1926) was built on the riverbanks of the Kamogawa. The bath is made of cypress wood delivering a luxurious feeling. Also, one reason why it's so popular is that they offer rooms where guests can stay with their dogs. People who stay here can try on the "junihitoe" style of clothing from the Heian Era (9-12th century), so you can enjoy the feeling of nobility.

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11. Gion Hatanaka [Gion]

This is a secret, quiet refuge in the middle of showy Gion that was created with the concept of a mountains within the city. Not only is there a large public bath available, each room also has its own private bath attached. You can enjoy spending time with maiko (apprentice geisha) through tea or playing games. You can also take a picture with the maikos for a memory of your stay. It is easy to reach Yasaka Shrine and Kodaiji from here.

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12. Kinoe [Gion]

Kinoe is right next to Kenninji and Yasaka Pagoda, situated in a perfect location. When you walk through the doorway, you're greeted with a Japanese-style rock garden. The rooms have refined touches such as staggered shelves and hanging scrolls that help refresh your heart. The meals change according to the seasons and are prepared as though they are works of art.

13. Kikusui [Okazaki]

This ryokan sits before the gate of Nanzenji, and all the rooms are built in the "sukiya" style as a tea-ceremoony arbor. The famous Kyoto gardener, Jihe Ogawa, created the garden here that features a path around a pond. In the spring the highlight of the garden is the weeping cherry blossom tree in full bloom. In the summer you can hear the Japanese orchestra playing at the Gion Matsuri. In the garden, there are two tea rooms for the two styles of tea ceremony, the Yabunouchi style and the Urasenke style. 

14. Lakuyohso [Okazaki]

Lakuyohso was built in the Taisho era, near Nanzanji and Heian Shrine. It was originally a holiday villa for Earl Tokinao Yamashina, and the grounds cover about half an acre. They have a garden where you can enjoy a different scenery throughout the year. The dignified study room is also worth a look.

15. Momijiya Honkan Takao Sansou [Takao]

This ryokan was renovated and reopened in 2014, right in the perfect spot to enjoy the foliage on Mt. Takao. Here, you can really feel the changing seasons right in the middle of it. The elevated open-air bath is called Tenku no Yu (the bath of the sky). During the day you can enjoy the scenery of the mountains and in the evening, you can bathe surrounded by the stars.

16. Kinsuitei [Takao]

Kinsuitei is a ryokan with a perfect view of the lush scenery of the Kiyotaka River running through Mt. Takao. In the summer you can enjoy salmon dishes and the sight of fireflies flitting about over the riverbed. In the fall you can see the entire mountain covered in foliage. The ryokan also uses the harvest from both the mountain and the river to create the freshest Kyoto-style cuisine possible. It's easy to access Jingoji and Kozanji from there.

17. Ugenta [Anba/Kifune]

This ryokan is a hidden refuge upstream of Kamogawa in Kyoto's "inner parlor", Kifune. You can enjoy cuisine from the river during spring and summer, embracing the nature offered in Kyoto. In the fall you can enjoy the foliage and in the winter you can spend your day in the Japanese style rooms with fireplaces. You can pleasantly enjoy each season here. There is a bus that connects the ryokan to Kifuneguchi Station, which is convenient.

18. Yase Kamaburo Onsen Furusato [Ohara/Yase]

 This ryokan was built at the foot of the sacred Mt. Hiei along the Tagano River. It's about 20 minutes away from the center of the city, but the very quiet environment is calm and relaxing. You can also refresh both your mind and your body at the 1300 year old sauna Kamaburo. You can also warm your mind and body with the area's famous botan nabe, or wild boar hotpot.

19. Teradaya [Fushimi]

Teradaya is where Ryoma Sakamoto, an important figure in the Meiji Restoration, was attacked although he was able to make a narrow escape. The baths, stairs and pillars are still covered in cuts by swords from that era so you can really feel the historical background.

20. Machiyado Matsumura [Fushimi]

This ryokan has the feeling of a merchant's family home in a castle town built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. This 200 year old building was restructured and now has been designated as a historical building of Kyoto. The refined garden and the modern rooms are popular. There is also a bar, where you can spend a relaxing evening.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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