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“Amazing experience”
Review of Shiraume

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Shiraume
Ranked #1 of 379 Hotels / Ryokan in Kyoto
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 February 2012

We stayed in the Umesono room for 2 nights in January. Getting to the ryokan was pretty swift in a cab from the station; perhaps a 20 minute ride (approx. ¥1200). The location is a peaceful corner of Gion, next to the Shirakawa canal – the Umesono room overlooks the canal. It felt well placed for walks around the older quarters of the city.

We decided to have one [Japanese] breakfast and one kaiseki meal at the ryokan, leaving a bit of an opportunity to explore the restaurants of Kyoto. Both meals at the ryokan were an amazing experience on several levels (the food, the performance, and the presentation); Tomoko the Okami-san guided us through each course of the meal and it’s relevance to the season (their umeshu is home-made and definitely worth trying, and the black sesame ice-cream was easily the best home-made ice-cream we’ve ever had!).

The Umesono room was more of a suite; heated tatami floors, distinct separation of sleeping and dining rooms/areas, it’s own cedar bath (though it’s a little easier just to request that one of the two baths on the ground floor be prepared for you).

There are only 6 guest rooms at the ryokan, and each room varies in size and shape. They were fully booked during our stay, but the level of service was such that we never noticed any other guests and always felt we had the fullest attention.

The hospitality, Tomoko’s cultural insight, her knowledge of the city, the heritage of the tea-house and the dedication towards its tradition and operation, made the stay an amazing and unique experience.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank GilbertoAndJorge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 17 January 2012

From speaking with Tomoko via email to make our booking through to the day we left every single thing about Shiraume is outstanding. Its everything a westerner could ever hope for in experiencing traditional Japanese hospitality. Our room was fabulous - we spent the first hour after checking in just walking around our living space, beautiful private onsen and cosy bedroom in awe of the attention to detail, traditional design all somehow combined with total modern luxury. We ate two breakfasts there, one Japanese and one Western - both of which were outstanding. We would have loved to eat an evening meal but with only 2 days in Kyoto we decided to explore instead. Walking back to the Ryokan in the evenings was also an experience - the little alleyways all around are so interesting and we even saw two real Geisha rushing along with their umbrellas in a huge thunderstorm... We stayed in the Umesono room which is really actually a suite and I never wanted to leave. Its not cheap - but if you can afford it don't miss it!!

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Tess145
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 January 2012

We stayed at Shiraume for 2 nights during late December. It was INCREDIBLE. Words cannot describe the attention to detail at this ryokan - it surpasses any luxury hotel.

Tomoko, our host, was welcoming and knowledgable. She saw to our every need - even before we realised we needed it! This is the best way to experience real Japanese culture and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would go so far as to say you are missing out if you don't experience something like this.

I would highly recommend having dinners (keiseki) at the ryokan, because it was the best food we have ever tasted, and Tomoko explained each and every dish to us, the ingredients, how it was prepared, and the history of the food or its cultural significance. The brief selection of a menu which Tomoko emailed to us when arranging the booking simply did not do the meal justice. This is a dining experience, not just a dinner! The Japanese breakfasts were similarly amazing. We would also recommend using the jacuzzis if they are available, as bathing in the traditional Japanese way is an experience in itself.

If you stay multiple nights, they redecorate your room each day - so we had the pleasure of enjoying different paintings, fans, vases etc over the days we were there. Fresh willow and pine branches were placed in our room in preparation for the New Year celebrations. We were given gifts as we left the ryokan, and we were able to take fabric toiletries bags with us, tabi socks, as well as the shiraume (plum blossom)-themed serviettes!

This ryokan was worth every penny and I would place it as my number 1 Japan experience.

Room Tip: Umegae room - there were 4 of us staying here (2 couples) which allowed us ample luggage space, plus...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
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3  Thank cksydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2011

Dont look any further!

This ryokan experience has been my dream literally for 8 years. I knew i wanted to immerse myself in the traditional culture of Japan, and to experience the true sense of Japanese heritage, and this place sure will exceed all expectations! After stalking many reviews here to get an accurate idea of what to expect, nothing will prepare you for the mystical feel and amazing sense of awe that will take over you when you arrive at Shirakawa stream (the canal outside the ryokan). Nothing beats the feel of looking out your balcony, and to see tourists take photos with envy!

My partner and I stayed in the Umeichirin suite, on the 2nd level, overlooking the canal. With it’s own bathroom and toilet, and for the scenery of the stream by which LonelyPlanet’s Japan guide has stated as arguably one of the most beautiful streets in all of Asia (yeah, thats right), for the high price you pay, it beats many of the other competition surrounding Gion and Higashiyama. I researched heavily for the perfect ryokan, and other accommodations just don’t cut it! The 2 most famous ones, Tawaraya and Hiiragiya are seriously overpriced, and aren’t even in the best locations! With the other ryokans, It’s either they aren’t located conveniently, or they don’t have private toilet/bathroom use, or the ryokan itself doesn’t look authentic. I changed my entire japan itinerary to book 1 night at this amazing hotel (i had to cancel other hotel bookings etc, because the week and a half that i was in Japan, only 1 day was available with vacancies, and even then i had booked 4 months in advanced – travellers be warned, i travelled during the autumn foliage season).
The experience itself, is out of this world. You literally step into a whole different time. You feel an instant appreciation – well, i did – for nature, life, beauty, etc. We were taken to our room by an elderly lady, who spoke enough English to give us a tour of the ryokan’s facilities. And she then took us to our room, booked our Jacuzzi time slot, and served us our delicious afternoon tea. Tomoko, the owner, had kindly hand written a welcome letter and apologised for her absence – which in turn only made our encounter that much more honourable when she served us our dinner.

Our suite was impeccably decorated with the obvious Japanese intention of minimalistic beauty and simplicity. Every room was like a museum display, every room made me stop in awe. The room was extremely spacious, and i loved having the futon bedding set out for our arrival, as my partner and I are nappers. One of the most amazing things about this ryokan (and many restaurants in japan in general), is that, you can SMOKE INDOORS. Tomoko said that my partner can smoke inside the ryokan. I was shocked, as i thought that the materials indoors were sensitive/fragile especially the tatami and shoji screens. The room doesn’t carry the smoke smell, as Tomoko explained the ventilation is very good.

There is nothing more that is positive that i can add about this ryokan that hasn’t been covered by previous reviews. The only criticisms i have is the fact that the rooms don’t have locks. Obviously, they wont enter unannounced, but it would feel secure if we did have an entrance lock. You can lock it from the outside but thats it. Also, the futons are very comfy as other reviewers have said, but im the type to roll around and lay on my side, and being a woman with hips, it wasn’t too comfy lying on my side. Another odd criticism is that our room has two balconies, one facing the canal, and one on the opposite side of the suite that seems to be private, but if you look down, you can see into a room or the ryokan’s walkway, i wasn’t sure. This was a little concerning, being a couple, we had to be conscious of dressing sensibly while walking from the bedroom to the bathroom through our room’s foyer as it had a large blindless window.

This has definitely been the most amazing experience of my Japanese holiday and my entire life! I highly recommend it to all who travel to Japan.

Room Tip: our umeichirin suite is definitely the better choice, as the bedroom is separate from the dining roo...
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  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank jum253
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2011

We decided to stay here after reading excellent review after review on Trip Advisor. It was a great experience, very different from staying at a hotel. It really felt like you were staying in the real Kyoto, rather than just a bland hotel. The Ryokan is on such a pretty street in the Gion district, with a little river in front. We got there on the Shinkansen from Tokyo and from Kyoto took the local train to Gion-Shijo station, and walked with no problems with our cases, as not that far.

We were greeted by Tomoko and after removing our shoes and putting on our slippers were shown to our lovely little Umemi room. After removing our slippers we sat down on the floor and were served tea and cake which was lovely, and Tomoko explained about what to see in the local area, which was very helpful. Our room had a very pretty little garden. The Umemi room doesn't have its own bath only a wash basin and toilet but we could use either of the shared baths, you just need let them know when you wish to use them. It was very hot bath indeed! We slept well on the futons, and I used the pyjamas supplied which is a very nice extra. We didn't have dinner, but had breakfast the next morning in our room, which was fully explained to us, and was superb. We are very glad we stayed here, and would whole heartily recommend it if you wish to immerse yourself in the real Kyoto.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Mrs-Moondog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Shiraume

Address: Shirakawa-hotori, Shinbashi-dori, Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Region: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto > Gion
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Kyoto
Number of rooms: 8
Also Known As:
Shiraume Hotel Kyoto

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