For many foreign visitors, Kyoto encapsulates the essence of Japan, and renting one of the many traditional houses in Kyoto adds an extra touch of authenticity to any holiday in Japan. Traditional houses, or machiya, for rent are scattered throughout the city, and many are located near top Kyoto attractions and things to do. Explore the most traditional machiya for rent in Kyoto, and start planning an itinerary according to where you decide to stay!
Traditional Houses in Kyoto
For hundreds of years, Kyoto‘s center city was dominated by machiya, traditional Japanese townhouses. These multi-story, wooden structures typically housed merchants and craftspeople and often featured a shop in the front of the building. The storefront would have been separated from the living space by a sliding wood and paper door called a shoji. Since taxes were assessed based on a the width of a building’s street frontage, not its overall size, machiya were built to be narrow but long and frequently, tall.
Many of Kyoto‘s machiya have disappeared over the centuries, but a significant number have survived and continue to serve as private residences. Visitors who are interested in an immersive cultural experience will find plenty of these traditional houses in Kyoto to book as vacation rentals. These townhomes feature the classic wooden architecture, authentic tatami floors, and shoji. Many also boast interior open-air courtyards and rock gardens.
Despite their traditional design elements, these holiday rentals are nothing close to antiquated. Visitors can rest assured that they will have access to all the modern amenities they have at home – and then some! Many traditional houses in Kyoto come with complimentary use of a portable Wi-Fi device, which guests are welcome to take with them as they explore the city during their stay.
Nearby Toufuji! Toufukuji sta. walk 9mins only!
This Two Bedroom Home Near Tofukuji Station has sleeping space for up to seven guests and a well-equipped kitchen, making it a family-friendly rental option. Located less than a ten-minute walk from Tofukuji Station, this vacation rental is an ideal home base from which to explore all that Kyoto has to offer. Kyoto Tower is less than two kilometers away, so you may not even need to get on a train to see some of the area’s most popular attractions.
Check In to Nearby Toufuji! Toufukuji sta. walk 9mins only!, Step Out to Kyoto Tower
Toki Kyoto 1a★10min Kyoto sta!New design house!
This updated Two-Story Studio in Central Kyoto beautifully combines traditional aesthetics with modern luxuries. The machiya features two double beds on a traditional sleeping platform, so it can comfortably sleep up to four adults. This gorgeous rental home features high-end finishes including a soaking tub and rain shower. The indoor garden lets in light and adds a sense of serenity to the living space. Located in the center of Kyoto, this elegant vacation rental is a short walk from multiple rail stations and some of the city’s most popular attractions, including Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Check In to Toki Kyoto 1a★10min Kyoto sta!New design house!, Step Out to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Toki Kyoto 2b ★10min Kyoto sta!New design house!
This elegant One Bedroom at Toki Kyoto is the ideal holiday rental for a couple or a solo traveler. Located in the stylish Toki Kyoto building, the apartment is thoughtfully decorated with modern design elements that will appeal to discerning travelers. Windows placed near the top of high ceilings let in plenty of light without sacrificing privacy. The Aeon Mall is right around the corner, so groceries and souvenirs are never far away. When it’s time to sightsee, guests will find themselves a short walk from Kyoto Station, which provides easy access to the whole city and is less than four kilometers from the famed Kiyomizu Temple.
Check In to Toki Kyoto 2b ★10min Kyoto sta!New design house!, Step Out to Kiyomizu Temple
BlackFriday Sale Historic Wooden House! Hasu KT-1
This Historic Wooden Home has one bathroom, a partial kitchen, and can sleep up to seven people. Amenities include air-conditioning, wi-fi, and cable TV as well as toiletries and linens. One of the most charming traditional houses in Kyoto, this holiday rental puts guests in the center of the action: it’s less than a kilometer to To-Ji Temple, the Kyoto Aquarium, and Kyoto Station.
Check In to BlackFriday Sale Historic Wooden House! Hasu KT-1, Step Out to To-Ji Temple
Traditional House for 3 Honmachi Shin 5chome South
Centrually located, this Traditional Home in Kyoto Honmachi South is ideally situated for exploring Kyoto‘s many religious and cultural landmarks, including Sanjusangendo Hall, which is just steps away. The one-bedroom holiday rental features three semi-double beds in the sleeping loft. The kitchen has everything you need to make simple meals. The home’s minimalist aesthetic complements its traditional design and creates a soothing, spa-like atmosphere that makes it the perfect retreat to return to after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto.
Check In to Traditional House for 3 Honmachi Shin 5chome South, Step Out to Sanjusangen-do Temple
Muyusya★Traditional 2 story! Near Kiyomizu Temple!
Larger than many of the traditional houses in Kyoto, the elegant Muyusya Traditional Home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a small private garden. One of the bathrooms features a beautiful soaking tub that sits in front of a large picture window that looks out into the garden. This well-appointed, contemporary rental is centrally located, with many popular attractions less than a kilometer away. Sanjyusangen-do Temple and the Kyoto National Museum are within a 10-minute walk from the home.
Check In to Muyusya★Traditional 2 story! Near Kiyomizu Temple!, Step Out to Kyoto National Museum
Home for 5/Kyoto! Honmachi Shin 5-chome
This Traditional Home with Modern Comforts sleeps five adults, thanks to five semi-double beds in a large sleeping loft. The first floor of the holiday rental features a kitchen as well as a spacious dining and living area. In addition, all of the amenities that travelers expect in a hotel can be found in this vacation rental. Plus, guests will have access to a washing machine. Best of all, this machiya is centrally located, and many of Kyoto‘s most popular attractions, including the impressive Nijo Castle, are within five kilometers.
Check In to Home for 5/Kyoto! Honmachi Shin 5-chome, Step Out to Nijo Castle
(Legal) Moon Machiya near Kiyomizu Temple and Gion
Located near Gion, Kyoto‘s famed geisha district, this Traditional Townhome Near the Gion District is within walking distance of great restaurants and upscale boutiques. The second story features two rooms, one with two single beds, the other with three traditional floor mattresses. Downstairs, guests will find a kitchen and dining area, a spacious living room, and a private courtyard garden.
Check In to (Legal) Moon Machiya near Kiyomizu Temple and Gion, Step Out to Gion District
Things to do in Kyoto
The hardest part of planning an itinerary for a trip to Kyoto is narrowing down the list of things to see. The city is a history lover’s dream, and it wouldn’t be hard to spend a week in the area, especially if you’re staying in one of the many traditional houses in Kyoto!
- Kyoto National Museum is one of Japan’s oldest and most significant art museums. Opened in 1897, the museum is home to a massive collection of archaeological relics, sculptures, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and more, much of it dating back to the Heian period, which began in 794 and ended in 1185. The museum is also prized for its collection of ancient Chinese and Japanese sutras.
- Across the street from the museum is Sanjusangen-do Temple, another Kyoto must-see. Founded in 1164, the temple is widely known because it is home to a staggering 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of Mercy. In Sanjusangendo Hall, visitors will find a large Kannon statue surrounded by 1,000 human-sized Kannon figures arranged in rows of ten. Of these, 124 statues are from the original temple, and the balance were constructed in the 13th century to replace those lost in a fire.
- Nijo Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the early 1600s as a residence for the shogun. It is one of the most well-known castles in all of Japan in part because it is the best surviving example of the royal architecture of the nation’s feudal period. The castle’s gardens and double moats are two of its most intriguing features.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine is a Shinto shrine known for the thousands of bright red torii gates that line the wooded trails that wind through the grounds of the shrine. Visitors with two to three hours to spare can follow the trails to the sacred Summit of Mount Inari, which is also a part of the shrine grounds.
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a Buddhist temple and another of Kyoto‘s 17 World Heritage Sites. Kiyomizu-dera, or Pure Water Temple, is named for the waterfall on the temple grounds. The temple is known for its main hall and wooden stage, which were built without the use of a single nail.
- To-Ji Temple is most famous for being home to the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. The five-story structure is over 57 meters tall and has become a symbol of Kyoto. The temple and hall house a variety of interesting works of art, including several unique Buddha statues. Visitors who find themselves in the vicinity of the temple on the 21st of the month should try to pick up some souvenirs at the monthly flea market.
- Kyoto‘s famed geisha district, Gion, is packed with high-end restaurants, traditional Japanese townhomes, and specialty boutiques. Lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of a modern geisha, highly trained entertainers who have mastered an array of traditional Japanese arts. These elegant women are easily recognized because of their striking white make-up and gorgeous kimonos.
- One of Kyoto‘s most striking natural attractions is the bamboo grove in Arashiyama, which is about 30 minutes from the city center. The towering bamboo plants seem to blot out the sky, casting a strangely beautiful green light over the ground below. There is one main path through the grove, so visitors should aim to arrive early in order to beat the crowd and have a decent chance at a quiet walk through the sprawling bamboo forest.