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Iori Machiya Rental, Kyoto 

Sujiya-cho 144-6
Japan 600-8061
Tel: 81 075 352 0211
view web site ›'s insider take:

Though Kyoto's famous temples and shrines are under government protection, the city's traditional houses, or machiya, are rapidly being destroyed. Enter Iori. The company, which also runs cultural programs in the city, has been restoring machiya and adding modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and Western-style bathrooms. As a result, guests get many of the traditional benefits of a ryokan—fragrant wood soaking tubs, tatami mat rooms, sliding bamboo doors—along with Western comforts that make the experience more accessible. Whereas staying at a ryokan requires rising at a set hour and leaving the room for much of the day, renting an entire machiya allows you to come and go as you please. And instead of being tied to a prescribed dining schedule, you can dine out or have Iori's concierge service arrange for a chef to prepare a meal in your residence. There are ten different houses on offer, from a rambling mansion near the palace grounds that sleeps 14 to a cozy two-bedroom Gion town house that was once a florist's shop. The staff can help you determine the best fit for your needs, but our favorites are the riverfront properties—Minoya-cho, Izumiya-cho, and Zaimoku-cho, once home to a geisha—whose bamboo screens open to reveal the gurgling waters of the Kamo below.—Colleen Clark

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