9 keyword to know about Kyoto Machiya Cottage karigane

1. Chanoyu 茶の湯

This machiya was built in 1934 by skilled carpenter specialized in temple (Miya Daiku宮大工). Since this house was facing to the one of the biggest shopping streets in Kyoto at that time, the owner of the house wanted this house to be well-made. It had existed as a tea master’s home and classroom for many decades, with a recent history of a cafe operating on the first floor until Shimo & Rika, the owner of karigane found the notification of café closing on the front door of the machiya by chance. With machiya history in our mind, we started to restore the house keeping the beauty and air of this tea master’s machiya, but make it comfortable to live in for guests from all around the world. All the guests will be welcomed with tea ceremony performed by Shimo & Rika. (picture)


2. Handmade 手作り

We restored this machiya inviting 2 carpenters and 1 plasterer. Unlike the normal owner of the guesthouse, Shimo & Rika worked together with carpenters for whole 9 month of restoration period mainly doing painting, tiling and cleaning. Restoring our machiya was like a jazz session. It never goes as it initially designed. Not only us, but also the carpenters gave us an idea to make the machiya better. The idea of bathroom with tile painting of Kyoto scenery came out as a joke from one of the carpenters at first, ended up making it as it sounds fun (we never thought it will take so long…!). The secret door on the second floor was idea from our plasterer, so as the decoration of the stair hall. A lot of our guest mentioned that they can feel the handmade vibe and the love of craft from our machiya, which is probably because each carpenter created freely and enjoyably. (Pic : Rika doing tiling of the bathroom)

3. Earth wall 土壁

Japanese architecture cannot be completed without earth wall. We were so fortunate to have a friend, professional plasterer who are willing to teach us from the basic of Japanese plastering and having amazing technique to create a beautiful wall. Kyoto abounds in colorful sand and uniquely developed Kyoto way of plastering. It’s sad that less and less people choose to have real earth wall for Japanese room of their house mainly because of economic reason. Instead, they choose wall paper which looks like earth wall or chemical earth wall with glue in it. The real earth wall has breathability, adjust humidity therefore suitable for Japan’s hot and humid climate. A slight unevenness of the earth wall reflects the light beautifully and make us feel relaxed as if we are surrounded by nature. (picture: On the first floor, we used Asagi sand (Asagi tsuchi 浅葱土) from Fushimi, Kyoto.)

4. Sustainability 持続可能な建築

We believe sustainability is the key word of future architecture. We tried our best to use 2nd hand material, source from material inside Kyoto or Japan. The door of the kitchen, toilet and bathroom is second hand from Igawa tategu井川建具店, the second hand door shop in Kyoto.(picture) On the second floor, we used Juraku sand from Kyoto. Did you know that the sand of the wall can be reused? We used the sand of the former wall of this machiya. After peeling the former wall, we mixed it with water then put it back to the wall. The wooden washbowl stand was made from the left over of other construction site. The small crack of the wood in the front side made it difficult to use in the other construction site as most people wants the perfect piece when they are making a new house.

5. Natural Painting 自然由来の塗料

Traditional and natural painting is used throughout karigane. We used Persimmon tannin (Kakishibu柿渋) to paint the floor of kitchen and washroom. It has water repellency and effective against termites and it’s 100% natural. To paint pillars and walls, we used the mixture of persimmon tannin, burned pine (Shoen松煙), red oxide (Bengalaべんがら).




6. In Praise of Shadows 陰翳礼賛

Revered novelist, Tanizaki Junichiro wrote an essay telling that modern architecture seems to be built to create as few shadows as possible and to expose the interior to as much light as possible. Japanese traditional buildings are, on the other hand, built to create more shadows and try not to expose the interior to direct sun light. A sunlight goes through lattice, washi paper of shoji screen and delicately shine the room which create a gentle and tasteful shades of colors. Kakejiku, chabana, Japanese sweets and all sorts of Japanese arts looks so much different with this limited light. During your stay, we would like you to turn off all the light and enjoy the moment to feel the Japanese way of aesthetics.


7. Chanoyu 茶の湯

Kyoto Machiya Cottage karigane is located at Murasakino紫野, central north of Kyoto city.

The area name Murasakino means “purple field” as it used to be the place where noble ladies pick up purple medicinal herbs in 8th century. Lady Murasaki, the author of “The tale of Genji” also born in this area in 10th century. Daitokuji played an important role as a social meeting place of warlord who are into tea ceremony practicing around 16th century. Since then, Daitokuji is known as a center of the tea ceremony in Japan and become one of the best places in Japan to see wide variety of Zen gardens and tea rooms.

Now this area is recognized as a location of famous café & teahouse among locals. “Aburimochi” 1000year old teahouse in the West, “Sarasa Nishijin” public bath renovated cafe in the south, “wife & husband”café with antique shop in the east. “stardust”(picture), vegan café in the north. There are quite a few long running shops but at the same time, this relaxed atmosphere and cheaper land cost attracted quite a few young small business owners to open their small shops, giving new cultural scenes to this area. Mitate (flower arrangement), Totousha (tea master’s share house), Kissaco(café), Hoco(café), LIFETIME(garden  shop),  Utsuwakan(pottery gallery), Kanegae(art gallery), Heiando (kintsugi), Kamisoe (Karakami craftman), Umezonosabou(teahouse) and more….

8. The meaning of karigane 

There is two meaning for “Karigane”. One is Japanese name of bird goose. Another is name of tea.

We wanted to name this machiya related to “traveling” and “tea” considering the history and purpose of the house. Goose is a traveling bird who comes to Japan on September, appeared in the oldest poetry book Manyoshu.

karigane tea is a stem part of Gyokuro tea. Although it has a full of sweet and umami taste in it just like a Gyokuro tea, but price is reasonable so it was loved by people who knows tea well. We are hoping our machiya will be loved by travelers who appreciate the difference and uniqueness this machiya has.


9. About Us わたしたちについて

We met each other in 2005 through volunteer work at local festival in Nara, married in 2012. After worked as a office worker for 6-7 years, we decided to leave our job and make our two wishes come true. Go around the world trip and start our own business. We traveled 44 counties including South America, central America, Africa, Europe, middle East and Asia. (You can check out our blog for our around the world trip.)

Through the experience of staying a number of guesthouses around the world, what we loved the most was family running small guest house using the traditional building unique to the area. So we decided to make one in Kyoto using machiya.

We went sight seeing for many places during the trip and saw historical places, museums and great nature, but what we remember the most was a conversation with locals we met on the street or salsa bar, a small family running restaurant and hikers we met in the mountain. They made us feel connected to the area and made our trip different from others. This is the reason why we made our cottage a bit out of the town so that our guest probably have better chance to talk with locals and make their trip different from others.

Both of us loves trekking, cycling, yoga, reading and drawing. Also we are now practicing tea ceremony in Daitokuji temple, often visit antique markets to find tea tools. Shimo loves cooking and Rika loves collecting old textiles.

We are looking forward to welcoming guests and introduce the culture, beauty this city has to offer.

Both of us loves trekking, cycling, yoga, reading and drawing. Also we are now practicing tea ceremony in Daitokuji temple, often visit antique markets to find tea tools. Shimo loves cooking and Rika loves collecting old textiles.

We are looking forward to welcoming guests and introduce the culture and beauty this city has to offer.