Around this time last year, we were looking for accommodations in Kyoto and Tokyo. Since we were on a budget, P and I had accepted the fact that we would be staying in a mixed dormitory or at least be sharing toilet/bath facilities with other travelers in a hostel or inn.
We found IchiEnSou in Hostelworld.com. It was (still is) highly rated, looked like a cozy Japanese home (which it was originally back in 1920), cheaper compared to ryokans and other inns in the area, and supposedly had an “idyllic location, one street off the main street in the most famous Geisha district in Kyoto, called Gion.” All the previous guests that booked through the website had left positive reviews–confirming that it had a great location, that it had a warm and cozy atmosphere, and special mention to the owners who took their guests on walking tours around the neighborhood. That did it. I booked two beds in the mixed dorm.
IchiEnSou lived up to its homey reputation. It’s a small wooden guesthouse that I think was able to retain the atmosphere of an old Japanese home, while providing its guests comfort. And the fact that it can only accommodate 11 guests–seven in a mixed dormitory room (with double deck beds) and four in a girls-only traditional Japanese room–it remained cozy and afforded some semblance of privacy.
The common room-slash-dining area is also lovely, with a few wooden tables and chairs, a little corner with two small cushioned chairs, and a sitting room with a tatami mat.
A problem for some might be the fact that there is only one shower room (very spacious and charming though) and only two toilets (one for females on the second floor, and one for males on the ground floor). But during our stay, even with the guesthouse fully booked, it didn’t become a problem. They were also kept very clean–as the rest of the house was.
What I loved most about this little guesthouse–aside from the very gracious owners –was its location. Yes, it has an idyllic location as promised–a short walking distance from the scenic Kamo River and Shirakawa Canal, Nishiki Market, Pontocho, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, the Gion district, and the main thoroughfare of Shijo-dori if you need to head downtown. If you’re on a budget and should find yourself in Kyoto, book a bed at IchiEnSou.
Address: 4-2 Komatsu-Chou Sijousagaru 4 Choume YamatoOojiDouri Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto, Japan
Cost: PHP1,698 per bed (Y3,000, around US$38)