Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Feb-ulous Kyoto: A Short Getaway

We didn't confirm our Kyoto vacation until 2 weeks before the departure date so we were a bit tight in putting all the travel arrangements in order. Luckily with such a short trip and having no particular plan in mind it's not that big of a problem. After having the flight confirmed (flying with Peach this time, as we always do since I love their flight schedules between HKG and KIX), we then tried to sort out the accommodation part, and at the end went for something different this time by taking the option of short-term house rental instead of hotel.

I followed the recommendation of Yilan Yeh (葉怡蘭), one of my favorite travel writers from Taiwan, and made a booking with K's Villa at one of their properties in Kyoto's Gojo district. K's Villa belongs to a group which operates a few hostels around Japan (including one in Kyoto) popular with backpackers and also has a few townhouses for rent in Kyoto. Takasegawa-tei (高瀬川邸) is the smallest of the three properties available - a old-fashioned row house right by the Takase Stream, a small canal running parallel to the Kamo River - with one bedroom upstairs and the living area on the ground floor which comfortably sleeps two, and possibly a small family with kids.

Location-wise it was very nice. The JR Kyoto station was a quick 15-minute taxi ride away (or only a few stops away by bus) and a 10-minute walk across the magnificent Gojo bridge was another train station. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood but with a few shops and cafes worth visiting just round the corner. The house wasn’t huge, but you definitely got more space than you would with a regular hotel room. Right outside was the Takase Stream, which we could also get a good view from the bedroom upstairs. The stream was narrow so it's not exactly those guidebook river view, but it's quite pleasant looking outside in the morning with the clear sky up high and water running right by.

Booking process was easy - the house availability is posted online with full details of the house and facilities. Advance payment is required and can be made via Paypal, then once booking is confirmed, instructions were given on how to retrieve the key from the lock box by the entrance at the designated time. The house has 2 levels connected by a rather steep staircase, so it may not be suitable if you have difficulties climbing stairs, or people with huge suitcase that need to be carried up, but other than that (we traveled light anyway), we enjoyed our stay very much.

And what I loved most about the place was the well-equipped kitchen. Kyoto is known for its fresh produce and local market scene, and in the past every time I strolled across the famous Nishiki Market (which wasn't far away, by the way), I lamented not able to do more grocery shopping and actually took advantage of all the wonderful ingredients I came across there, so the prospect of having a proper kitchen so we could stay in and prepare a meal at "home" was what got me most excited about the trip. And more on that later, I am sure...

K's Villa Takasegawa-tei:

(Feb-ulous Kyoto Part 1 - check out the whole series here!)

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