This year in Kyoto, we stayed in a wonderful apartment called Blue Tengu Sanjusangendo. I found it on the Home Away site, where there are lots of pictures of its interior. I only took one photograph of my own (above), because we were just too busy sight-seeing or relaxing in this lovely home-from-home.
The house belongs to Michi, who was very helpful when I was booking our stay. She sent through excellent directions a couple of days before we were due to fly out to Japan, and answered my questions really quickly.
From previous experience of renting a property in Japan, I was expecting to have to copy our passports and complete a rental agreement form in advance, but this wasn’t the case with Blue Tengu. On arrival, we found a form in the comprehensive house manual, which we completed with our details and handed to Michi’s husband Keith when he called in the next day, on his way to work.
I thought the rental price for a week’s stay was very reasonable – much cheaper than a hotel stay and really good value for money considering the quality of the accommodation. Everything was just as we wanted it to be – plenty of storage space, a comfortable bed, a well-equipped kitchen, a washer-dryer and a sparkling clean shower unit. There were even adapters and cables for charging all manner of electronic devices, and if we’d wanted to, we could have hooked our tablets up to the tv. It has been recently refurbished and previous guests have clearly treated the place with the respect it deserves, because everything still looked new to us.
The larder was well stocked, with eggs and margarine in the fridge, and tea and coffee in the cupboard. There were plenty of condiments for cooking with, too, including soy sauce, spices and cooking oils. It was lovely to arrive and see that we didn’t need to go out shopping immediately. We could use what was there and then restock later.
The location was great as well. Next door to Sanjusangendo, which is a place we hadn’t visited and was top of my list of places to see in Kyoto this trip, and across the street from the Kyoto National Museum, which had an exhibition on while we were there that I really wanted to see. The house is down a pedestrian alleyway off Shichijo-dori and is really quiet. You wouldn’t know you were metres away from a busy main road. It’s walkable from Kyoto’s JR station, too. We did it in half an hour with our cases, and 20 minutes most other days. Also nearby is a Keihan Railway station which will take you south to the main Kyoto station area or north to Demachiyanagi and the university district. Buses up to Gion are a short walk away on Gojozaka-dori. We even walked from the house to Kiyomizudera one day. All in all a really well connected pied-à-terre.
The house manual had a brilliant array of restaurant recommendations. Michi and Keith know this area of Kyoto really well, and the recommendations were based on their own experience. We tried a couple of places and weren’t disappointed. On our first evening, we went a couple of doors down from the house to Okumura, which serves obanzai home-style cooking. We had a great time there, quickly becoming favourites with the restaurant owner who was thrilled that we could speak a little Japanese. She took our photograph and gave us a couple of tea cups as souvenirs. The food was delicious, so fresh and flavoursome. We tried all kinds of vegetable stews, some of which had fish stock in, but you can’t win them all.
Up the street towards Sanjusangendo was a little noodle restaurant, where we ate lunch on a couple of days. They also sell inarizusshi to take out through a cute little sliding window.
Blue Tengu was such a great place to stay that we’ll definitely be contacting Michi again next time we’re heading to Kyoto.