On my last trip to Japan, I had in my possession a book ‘Old Japan’ by Diane Durston, which lead me to stay at the homes of traditional merchants and craftspeople, or machiya, as they are named. A love of Japanese tradition and architecture lead Alex Kerr, one of the three partners of Iori, to salvage beautiful old merchant homes in Kyoto and transform them into places to stay.
After staying in one of Iroi’s salvaged mansions last year, we decided to visit another one that overlooked a 75-year-old obi workshop. The workshops are generally located underneath the old homes that include an indigo dyer, a broom maker and a tatami mat weaver alongside incense, lanterns, stationary, umbrellas and everything in-between.
I highly recommend this type of accommodation when visiting Kyoto as the traditional sleeping on tatami matting, shoji screens and noren fabric blinds give you a heightened sense of the local communities living now and in the past. Make sure to request a bicycle upon arrival so as to easily get around this flat city.