This is the view from the balcony of the Kyoto apartment we stayed in during both of our trips to Japan. My husband and I are both vegetarians, so we wanted to be able to cook for ourselves as well as experience a little bit of what it is like to live like a local in Japan. We found the apartment through Kyoto Stay Club. The apartment is located just off Karasuma-dori, one of the main streets running north to south between the Imperial Palace and Kyoto station. It was within walking distance of the Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle, as well as round the corner from a Co-op supermarket, a Family Mart and the subway. Across the road from the apartment block was a Shinto shrine, complete with stone kitsune guarding the sacred rice.
Yokoso Kyoto! Our attempt to live like locals in the ancient capital of Japan.
The apartment was spacious for Japanese living accommodation, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and toilet and a good sized kitchen. We liked the informative strip across the toilet seat that greeted us on arrival.
It wasn’t one of the Japanese super loos that we encountered in superstores and train stations, unfortunately, but the toilet did have an interesting cistern design – you could use the water that flowed into the cistern to refill it after a flush to wash your hands. Inventive!
A short stroll from the apartment was Nishiki Market, a riot of colour, flavours and smells. We spent lots of time strolling along this covered market, sometimes tasting the wares on offer, sometimes buying. It was a good location for buying souvenirs and presents, too. Thanks to the wonderful Happy Cow website, we also found an amazing vegan restaurant called Hale, tucked away among the shops. When we visited in the autumn on our second visit, we liked the carved gourds that one of the greengrocers had on display.
If you are planning a trip to Japan, and want somewhere low rent to stay, where you can cook for yourself and explore a residential part of town, I can recommend the apartments leased out by Kyoto Stay Club. We worked out that, for the two of us, the rent worked out at around £60 a night, we had lots of space, free broadband, and the freedom to come and go as we pleased. It was also great to stay in an area where Japanese people lived, and to do our shopping at the local shops. If you are vegetarian, there were great restaurants in the area, including Obanzai and Vegenote.