Momijiya of Takao Kyoto
Situated on the Kiyotakigawa River in a quiet forested area, this traditional Japanese Inn (Ryokan) is more then a hundred years old. Not only is the surrounding area and the inn very beautiful and relaxing, the food was simply amazing.
Before traveling to Kyoto for my first time, I had little knowledge of Kyoto and its complex history. I knew of Kyoto from the Kyoto protocol a major UN gathering to tackle climate change in 1992. However Kyoto is so much more, home to over 1600 temples, immaculate gardens and stunning bamboo forests. Kyoto was the Japanese capital from 794 to 1869, filled with history from many eras.
Despite its deep history, Kyoto also has a modern feel in areas. When arriving by train to the main station, you will be overwhelmed with scores of people and one of the most stunning train stations I’ve ever seen. The design is futuristic with a modern aesthetic, a contrast compared to the ancient Kyoto surrounding it. Its absolutely huge, with 3 shopping malls, a hotel, cinema, restaurants and various other amenities. One could spend an entire day here.
The second largest station building in Japan. Inside there is massive department stores, a cinema and hotel. With almost 255 million passengers a year.
There is so much to do and see in Kyoto, from the vast shopping area to visiting ancient temples and historic roads lined with restaurants, so after a few busy days of exploring we wanted to find a peaceful place outside of the main city. We wanted to choose a traditional Japanese inn, also known a Ryokan. Ryokans are well known for their relaxing atmosphere and quality food. Finding one that would have sufficient vegetarian choices seemed like a daunting task, as very few seemed to have anything. We decided we would first find one and contact them to see if they could accommodate us.
After hours of researching traditional Japanese Inns, we decided on the Momijiya. Located on the Kiyotaki-gawa river situated in a beautiful forest valley, the pictures looked beautiful and it had great reviews. We contacted them and asked about vegetarian meals and a day later they replied saying it would not be an issue and they would prepare something for us. We booked a ground floor with a private outdoor bath.
Ryokans, are known for relaxation, tatami floors, mineral baths and great food. Some have been around for over a thousand years and run by the same families. When visiting Japan, do yourself a favour and stay in one.
When the day finally arrived, they arranged to pick us up at a train station in Kyoto city. The ride to the Inn was stunning, following the winding river in the valley below, situated amongst forested hills with bamboo here and there. The drive itself was worth it. When you arrive, you walk across a neat suspension bridge over the river below.
People of Japan especially in the service industry are always polite and its no difference here. We are greeted and brought inside to old fashion lobby. When staying in Japanese Inns also knows as Ryokans, its custom to take off your shoes and put on some slippers. I find it a bit strange to leave my shoes at the front, but you get used to it. The place is quiet and feels very private, almost as if you are the only guests there.
When entering our room, we noticed there is no beds, just a table on the floor with some floor chairs and cushions. There is a screen door that opens to a beautiful outdoor garden, forest and private open-air bath.
When dinner time came, the chef (a very nice lady) came to our room with a small stove, drinks and lots of food. It felt a bit strange, having the chef come to your room and cook in front of you, but I quickly adapted and appreciated the private intimate dinner. I wasn’t expecting much but was blown away by the meal we got. For a place that doesn’t advertise vegetarian food, they were thoughtful and creative, giving us one of the best meals we ever had. One thing about Japan, and especially Kyoto is the excellent Tofu you will not find anything like this outside of Japan.
I was just happy knowing they would accomade our vegetarian diet. Being away from it all there was no other resturants around. I wasn’t expecting much but was blown away by the meal we got. For a place that doesn’t advertise vegetarian food, they were thoughtful and creative, giving us one of the best meals we ever had.
After dinner they come to take the table away and replace it with thin mattresses on the floor, the rest of the evening we spent exploring and relaxing. At night they light up lanterns and it makes for a beautiful scene. In the summer months I believe they also serve food next to the river. If you are looking for a Ryokan near Kyoto I highly recommend the Momijiya.