'You just have to go there!! Its building and atmosphere is absolutely cool!!'
Having strongly pushed by a friend, I arrived at <Kinse Ryokan Inn>. A hostel taking only one groups per night, and are opened as a cafe & bar in the evening.
Very limited information on their website made me all the more interested, then I had the perfect chance to meet these people...
Mr. Adachi and his wife who is the owner of Kinse Ryokan Inn, with their relatives. (The Japanese guy second from left is Mr. Adachi, the lady in the center is his wife, Ms. Senacey) I was so glad I had the guts to start talking to them at Sakura Bar.
With a pounding heart from this coincidence, I finally arrived at Kinsei Ryokan.
Kinsei Ryokan locates in an area with deep history, Shimabara.
There used to be a legal Kagai (Geisha district), with prosperous culture of Japanese poetry supported by the Bakumatsu (end of the Edo period) patriots. (Meaning VERY flourished!)
Kinse Ryokan has a cafe, Iwashi Coffee in its premises.
There is awesome set of roaster and coffee beans at the lobby. I'm getting dizzy already with fascination.
Another door leads me to a whole different world. An antique speaker is producing heavy sound filling up the air. The vibration was just amazing that at first I couldn't figure out where the speaker was. Retro and rare looking lights. Brilliant stained glass.
This place was built about 250 years ago in the late Edo period (1603-1868), and had undergone renovation to add a western touch in the first floor around late Taisho to early Showa period (1912-26, 1926-89). The second floor is left as Japanese style.
I started off by asking how could anyone create such an amazing building, and what led him to operate a hostel here.
This had been a hostel for a long time until Mr. Adachi's grandmother, but had stopped business at her generation about 20 years ago.
He had grown up in Tokyo, but in his late 20's, he moved in to this 'granny's home' not thinking of resuming hostel or shops here at all.
After working for a few years at a record shop, he went to United States with an encouragement from a friend and worked there for 2 years at an university.
He meets Ms. Senacey there, by the way.
After coming back to Kyoto, his friends insisted of doing a live event in this place. That was the start. He started to clean and fix the former hostel, all by himself for 5 years.
Fixed the torn seats, organized a counter and kitchen... Most of the things like lights and furniture is from the previous time.
Then he finally started a shop 2 years ago.
One of his laborious artwork is this tile on the lobby floor.
Taizan Tile created by Ikeda Taizan, Japan's pioneer in tile making which is not produced any more. Ever since I stepped into Kinsei Ryokan, its details had reminded my of a phrase 'future is in 100 years ago' that I read in a book on signpainter. The tile, the atmosphere... they were all calling out to me.
These were all first created 100 years ago, but I cannot express it right with just retro and antique. It has some kind of a dignity that is way beyond me.
Yet, I had a wonderful time. Mr. Adachi, Ms. Senacey, photographer Mr. Ushikubo, Owner of Iwashi Coffee Mr. Mashita were all super kind and friendly. The coffee was of course excellent that I had literally forgotten time talking with them.
Their customers are not only tourists, but also the locals. Weekends are usually busy but weekdays are more relaxed.
I would love to be back for coffee, beer or even to their music events someday.
For details on the Inn, check out their WEBsite or Airbnb
*This place is designated as one of the Buildings Contributing to Historical Landscape by the Kyoto City. Wow!
<Kinse Ryokan Inn>
Address: 79 Tayucho, Nishishinyashiki, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Closed: Tuesday, other irregular holidays