Ryokan Arashiyama – The historical capital of Kyoto is home to the district of Arashiyama, an absolutely thriving tourist destination that’s predominantly associated with Zen, nature, ancient traditions and customs, and hundreds of cultural and religious sites.
For Japan aficionados, ‘Arashiyama’ will immediately conjure up images of the gorgeous bamboo forest, one of the most iconic destinations in Kyoto.
Alongside a short stroll in spring or autumn along the Katsura river, an adrenalin pumping hike up the Arashiyama mountains to feed and play with monkeys, a visit to Tenryuji Temple to pay respects and admire their gardens, and riding the romantic Sagano Scenic Railway, the bamboo forest is only one of the aspects that makes a visit to Arashiyama so special and unique.
As expected of a district within Kyoto, Arashiyama is not at all about high-rise buildings, neon signboards and loud noises; in fact, it’s kind of where people would go to seek the opposite – preserved historic structures, walking trails deep in the mountains, and peace and quiet amongst nature.
One of the defining features of Arashiyama is that it is home to some incredibly stunning and thoroughly authentic ryokans that often get booked way in advance (for good reason).
Best Ryokan in Arashiyama
If you’re looking for the cream of the crop ryokan accommodation in this popular district, look no further, as we’ve put together a list of the 4 most amazing Japanese traditional inns that you should stay at in Arashiyama.
- Arashiyama Benkei
- Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku
Everything about this ryokan is 5-star quality, from the eye-catching entrance reminiscent of a historical structure, to the timber used to construct the spacious guest and common rooms, to the soft and fluffy futon mattresses, to the delicate traditional kaiseki meals prepared by seasoned professionals, to the succinct layout of the private onsen baths which allow, and even encourage, you to relax without a care in the world and just soak in the hot water from dawn ‘til dusk.
Arashiyama Benkei leads the market in truly authentic Japanese inn aesthetics. You’ll find the timber and luscious natural greenery evident throughout ryokan, boasted by the purposeful ambient lighting, minimal decor, and use of gorgeous wicker furniture.
The kaiseki dinner is an incredible experience, served in the comfort of your own guest room with your very own Nakai (personal attendant) to explain the process and cater to your needs.
Arashiyama Benkei truly is a classy affair.
Guest Tips: This is a great option for those who want to enjoy exploring the surrounding area on foot.
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Imagine waking up to the chirping of birds amongst the gentle gush of water as it flows through the nearby river, and then heading outside for a beautiful welcoming of the sunrise against the backdrop of magnificent mountains and bamboo forests.
That is reality at Hanaikada.
This gorgeously constructed, perfectly located (on the outskirts of the main strip, closer to nature and yet also close to many attractions), beautifully staffed ryokan offers one of the most genuine traditional Japanese experiences you will ever come across. It’s rated as a 3-star accommodation, but it will absolutely deliver on all aspects. Most notable, its onsite onsen baths are pure magic. Whether you book a room which has its own private bath, visit the public onsen bath, or book one of the private baths, you will be taken back by how delicately styled and constructed each are. They’re truly works of art.
With a free parking lot for guests, a gorgeous Japanese garden to stroll through whenever you’d like, comfy bedding and beautiful furnishings in all rooms, an onsite hot spring, and delicious kaiseki meals for dinner on offer, Hanaikada is the best option for the most well-rounded experience.
Guest Tips: There is a bus stop in front if anyone’s wondering. The rooms are smaller than what you’d expect, but manageable. Remember to book some private time in the onsen if it’s available.
Book It Now: Hanaikada >>
The beautiful Rangetsu ryokan is exactly what you would expect of a traditional Japanese inn located right on the river bank. Not the largest accommodation in town, it makes up for its size in atmospheric ambience alone. One of the most resounding aspects of this gorgeous inn is its peaceful Japanese garden. Carefully curated and consistently maintained to the highest standard, it’s where you can take a stroll and simply get lost in the sheer beauty of it all.
You will notice that there is a general theme throughout the ryokan the moment you step in – minimalism. It takes all the greatest aspects of Japan’s renowned basic living cultural theme and manages to incorporate it into a wonderfully aesthetic wooden inn surrounded by natural greenery.
However, don’t be fooled, as minimal does not mean lacking in any way. In fact, with the free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TV in all rooms, Japanese yukata robes for all guests, and a location that’s walking distance to a variety of amenities and attractions, that just means that you really do get the best of both worlds!
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Aptly described by many guests as the perfect blend between traditional and modern, Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku is a place for the ones who want to experience living like the Japanese in ancient times without having to give up on modern day creature comforts. It’s located next to the stunning Katsura River in Arashiyama, with the bamboo grove being an easy walkable distance away.
For those who end up booking the rooms with a view, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic sights of the mountains, but all guests at this ryokan will be astonished by the sheer size of all the rooms – they’re much bigger than the average size room in Japan! There are big windows and sliding doors opening to balconies, meaning the natural light that you experience is just incredible. You’ll step in and never want to leave.
To up the comfort factor, they have decided to opt out of using futon bedding and opt in to providing western beds instead; however, many aspects of a traditional Japanese inn have been retained (if you choose to stay in the Japanese rooms), such as tatami mat flooring, lowered traditional Japanese furniture, and sliding doors.
This ryokan is the perfect choice for those who place heavy value on comfort, convenience, and impressive Japanese interior design.
Book It Now: Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku >>
Whilst there are many places that claim they embody the magic of traditional Japan, not all of them live up to it. The four ryokans listed above are perfect examples of how a couple of very different styles of inns can still provide the same authentic and memorable experience for all guests at their properties through beautiful styling, great adaption of historical structures, wonderful knowledgeable staff, and simply understanding their customers needs.
And if you are looking for more Ryokan options in Kyoto, make sure to check out this blog post: Luxury Ryokan Kyoto.