(Nov 27, 2013)
Our first group destination in Japan was to Kyoto. My Jap friend was adamant that we go to Kyoto as this is the best place to view the autumn colors of Japan.
The only problem with that is, we had to contend with a lot of tourists and locals who also want to do the same thing!
As early as April, my friend was telling us to start booking accommodations already.. I thought “eh, too early” and thought she’s being too paranoid.. and I only started looking at options around June…..
I should have listened to my friend!
I panicked as I realized that the top rated & affordable accommodations mentioned in trip advisor were full for the dates we wanted!! So I was doing major googling of different types of accoms, from ryokans, hostels, hotels.. I was just mass emailing/inquiring any of those places I saw that:
1. was well reviewed
2. ideally could fit all of us
3. accessible to public transportation
4. was within a budget of 3k-5k yen per night.
5. flexible cancellation policy (with a group of 10 ppl involved, I needed to make sure we were flexible in case other people’s plans change, especially since the trip was more than 5 months away!)
And on top of ALL of that, I REALLY wanted to stay in a traditional Japanese accommodation.
But everything we were finding at this point that is available was reaching up to 7k++ yen per night! Plus some only had a few rooms available and couldn’t fit all of us, which means splitting up as a group. I was then thinking that we might have to sacrifice the hope of staying in a traditional Japanese place, or we have to pay more for the experience 😦
Then I thought.. here in AU, its common to be able to rent a house or apartment type place for a holiday, especially for a big group of people.. Maybe there’s something similar in Kyoto? So from hotels and ryokans I then shifted to searching for Machiya, which are traditional wooden townhouses found in Japan (especially in Kyoto) through this website… There were a lot more options popping up that could accommodate our group, and was actually AVAILABLE!!
After heaps of inquiries, I finally found this place 😀 😀
It initially said 6, but I asked them and they agreed that we could fit 10 people in. We had to spend a bit more than the original budget though, so each person ended up paying 6k yen per night. But for me this was still worth it as (1) we didn’t have to split up anymore, (2) we get to stay in a traditional Japanese house.. all to ourselves! (3) it had the flexible cancellation policy I wanted and (4) it’s still more affordable compared to the other places we were looking at.
But super happy with it! It’s exactly what I imagined living in a traditional Japanese house would look like!! Every little detail there was so different from a western style accom that I just kept taking photos of each spot in the house. And my friends were just as happy as they all went off looking at the different spots of the house 😀
There’s a nearby convenience store here as well.. So after a full day of exploring in Kyoto, we bought some sake and ended the day with a bonding session over drinks.. A wonderful start to our first day in Kyoto!