We spent our second night in Kyoto with the O’Keefes at a machiya, an old style merchant home. Think of a long narrow apartment complex that is built vertical to the street. You go into the alley and there are about five or six units one after another. Our unit was not big but had two rooms so there was enough space for four people. I envisioned a much more of an antique ambiance, but there was a modern kitchen and bathroom attached.
It’s not luxurious, but it’s reasonable at 15,000 yen a room for up to 3 people and 4,500 yen for each additional person. That’s not too different than the temple, but the nice thing is this place is more centrally located and there’s no curfew. Plus they provide towels which the temple doesn’t.
The company that owns the complex is a rice company called Shindoshokuryo. As part of its service, they present women with a small bag of natural exfoliant scrub made from ground rice. They also provide a bag of rice in the kitchenette for use.
The friendly woman that showed us to our unit said they had many guests from overseas, and when we were there, there was an Italian couple that was staying as well. The woman herself spoke a little bit of English and said she had spent several years in Maryland.
The machiya has been covered on Japanese television shows and can fill up, so I would suggest making reservations early. I definately recommend it though as a way to experience Kyoto a little bit differently than if you stay at a hotel.