advertisement

For me, Hiiragiya represents the quintessential traditional Japanese inn. Built in 1818 and nestled in the heart of old Kyoto, it has all the design characteristics of a fine old inn, with simple yet elegant tatami rooms decorated with art and antiques. Many have garden views and cypress baths. Even modern conveniences are cleverly hidden, like the remote controls for the lights and curtains, stored in gourd-shaped lacquered boxes designed by the present owner's great-grandfather. A 2006 annex added seven rooms, elegantly simple in that Zen-like Japanese sensibility of style. Dinners, served in your room in true ryokan fashion, are multi-course kaiseki feasts; Western-style breakfasts are available on request. No wonder Hiiragiya has played host to writers, artists, politicians and even members of the imperial family over the decades. Its level of service and hospitality is intuitive and about as perfect as it gets, honed over the years and now under the watchful and caring eye of Ms. Nishimura, the inn's sixth-generation innkeeper.