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Shiraume
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Reviewed December 1, 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 room, hence there isnt need to set up and move furniture through the day like the smaller rooms.
  • 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 December 1, 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
Reviewed November 28, 2011

This was one of the BEST places I've stayed at. I've been to Kyoto more than 5 times now, and until now, have always stayed at hotels, but a friend recommended this place and am I glad she did!! The service was impeccable, and the food was just delicious!! The "Okami-san" who is the hostess/owner, speaks perfect English, and really knows Kyoto, as she should, since she is the 7th generation owner. She suggested we go to see the Temple light up after dinner, and it was beautiful!!
The amenities were also very nice. It was first class in every sense. The greatest part of it, was that the place made you feel very welcome.
Shiraume's location is also very nice. I felt as though I was transported back to the old Edo period. If you are planning to visit Kyoto, check to see if Shiraume is open. You will not regret it!!

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with friends
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5  Thank pineappleprincess92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 26, 2011

This was our splurge but well worth every penny. Shiraume is traditional Japanese inn but has all of the comforts you would expect. We stayed in room with private bath and it was lovely - such a nice treat to relax in a nice deep teak bath after sightseeing and before dinner. Also tried the traditional kaiseke dinner which was an experience in itself. Beautiful presentation and very good food! Location is in gion district which is a great area in which to walk around. Rooms overlook neat little canal and they will make you want never to leave.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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2  Thank DallasPillowTalker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 20, 2011

Hostess/Owner: Tomoko, who speaks excellent English (she was a JAL flight attendant for 6 years before managing Shiraume, which has been owned by her family for over 100 years); full of good suggestions on organizing your day.

Room: Umeichirin, a magnificent two room suite on the second floor (overlooking the stream in front of the ryokan) with private soaking tub. We enjoyed having breakfast served here.

Meals: breakfast only (dinner optional). The Japanese breakfast was fabulously delicious. On the last day when we had to catch an early train, Tomoko arranged for a small continental breakfast with a yummy Japanese egg omelet.

Location: very central by the Gion-Shijo station on Shijo street, near central department stores and markets on the west, and walkable to Heian shrine to the northeast. There are many inexpensive restaurants within a few blocks as well as a 7-11 a half block north. If you plan to use a taxi, bring the ryokan business card with you as some taxi drivers are not familiar with this small (6-rooms) ryokan. It can be reached by rail from Kyoto station with a transfer at Tofukuji station, if you can carry or pull your luggage, take the Karasuma subway line from Kyoto Station and transfer to Hankyu east, or walk ten short blocks along Shijo street eastward to the Gion-Shijo station by the Kamo-gawa (river).

Internet: yes, along with bottles of organic apple juice and sake

Cost: very high, but worth the very unique pleasurable experience.

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank PiedmontWalker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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