A machiya is a traditional Japanese home. There used to be many machiya in old downtown Kyoto, but time and urban development have wrought the demise of many of them. Luckily, a recent push to preserve these traditional buildings before they disappear altogether has breathed new life into machiya converted into restaurants, shops, and tourist accommodations. Iori Machiya Stay offers nine traditional homes in central Kyoto, most built about a century ago and giving visitors the rare chance to experience staying in one. Decorated with folding screens, andon floor lamps, tansu chests, hanging scrolls, ceramics, baths made of cypress, cedar, or stone, and other Japanese details, they also offer such modern conveniences as a fridge, microwave, and organic coffee and tea but do not have a TV, phone, or full kitchen (because of fire hazards).They vary in size, with the smallest good for two people and the largest accommodating up to 10 people. Ishifudono-cho, the smallest house, is located on a quiet alleyway and overlooks a tiny garden, but because the bedroom is up a steep flight of stairs (and the bathroom is downstairs), it's best for nimble travelers. Especially nice is Izumiya-cho sleeping six persons, as it's located on Kiyamachi Dori and has a view of the Kamo River from rooms and its own deck, as does the larger Minoya-cho, which sleeps eight. Check in is at the company's office, after which staff will escort you to your abode to show you around and how things work. This is a great choice for travelers who do not need the constant services of an on-site concierge (though staff here is always available if you need them) and want more privacy than that afforded by a ryokan. It's also good for family reunions or couples traveling together. And for those interested in cultural enrichment, the company offers an Origin Arts Program that provides a hands-on workshop in tea ceremony, Noh, calligraphy, flower arranging, and other activities; check the website for more information and prices. Note: The office is a bit difficult to find, so it's best to print out the website's map and show it to the taxi driver.