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Shiraume 3.5

Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Kinki

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Review Summary

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  • Authentic 140-year-old ryokan with traditional decor
  • Beautiful setting next to a stream and century-old trees
  • Less than a five-minute walk to train station and riverfront restaurants
  • Traditional rooms with sliding doors and tatami mats
  • Modern in-room features like Nespresso machines and minibars
  • Private bathrooms with cypress wood tubs
  • Tasty kaiseki dinners and Japanese breakfasts included in rate
  • Common bathroom with whirlpool bath
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout


  • Outside Kyoto city center
  • Rooms pick up outside noise
  • No on-site parking 

Bottom Line

Located in the Gion Geisha District, in a former ochaya (where apprentice geiko -- women trained in a variety of arts -- lived while they studied), Shiraume is one of the best ryokan (traditional inns) in Kyoto. This upper-middle-range property offers a beautiful setting, and eight rooms with traditional features like sliding doors, tatami mats, and futons spread out on the floors. The cuisine served at Shiraume focuses on seasonal ingredients, and the traditional multi-course kaiseki dinners and Japanese breakfasts are guest favorites. Travelers looking for a traditional ryokan closer to the city center might want to compare rates with Ohanabo, a mid-range property adjacent to Higashi Honganji temple.

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Gorgeous traditional ryokan in former ochaya

Shiraume is a 140-year-old traditional ryokan that formerly served as an ochaya, the place where apprentice women lived while they studied a variety of arts. Today, guests walk on a bridge that traverses a babbling stream to reach the entrance of the inn. A number of trees, including two 100-year-old red and white plum trees, add to the tranquil outdoor setting. Inside, slippers are spread out on the floor for guests to switch into. Wooden floors and bamboo features create a natural, minimalist ambience throughout the building. In the dining room, multi-course kaiseki dinners are served in a traditional space with tatami mats, floor cushions, and low wooden tables. Most guests here are couples, and all should expect a different style and comfort than what are offered in Western-style hotels. 


In beautiful Gion Geisha District, a five-minute walk from the train

Map of Shiraume

Shiraume is in Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, and an area popular with tourists for its beautiful traditional buildings. From the inn it’s only a five-minute walk to the Kamo River with its riverfront restaurants. The Sanjokeihan train station is a five-minute walk from the hotel, and Kyoto station, in the city center, can be reached in less than 20 minutes. The city is most famous for its temples, and Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion) takes about 20 minutes to reach by road. The stunning Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is just 15 minutes away by train. It’s a little more than an hour's ride on public transportation to Osaka International Airport, a trip that takes about 45 minutes by taxi.


Traditional Japanese rooms, some with stream views

Shiraume has beautiful, traditional rooms with sliding doors, tatami mats, and futon mattresses on the floors. Woven bamboo ceilings and vases with fresh flowers add to the natural feel of the space. Rooms are spacious, and some have large windows overlooking a stream, while others face a small garden. All rooms have Nespresso machines, electric kettles with tea, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges stocked with tea, water, juice, and beer. Rooms have low wooden tables with floor cushions, and some offer wooden chairs. Bathrooms are especially attractive, with beautiful carved wooden sinks and fragrant tubs made from cypress wood. Some rooms do pick up noise from neighboring guests.


Restaurant and bar serving tasty seasonal food

Guests rave about the traditional dinners that focus on seasonal ingredients, along with the Japanese breakfast that's included in the room rate. During dinner, the hostess explains each dish, and the ingredients used for each course before guests experience the Japanese flavors for themselves. A common bath with showers and a whirlpool tub is available for guests to reserve, and there is a library with area guidebooks and one computer. Small souvenirs are available for purchase. Wi-Fi is free throughout.

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Shirakawa-hotori, Shinbashi-dori, Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

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