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A Memorable Place to Stay in Kyoto: A Historic Textile Factory Newly Open as a Guest House

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A Memorable Place to Stay in Kyoto: A Historic Textile Factory Newly Open as a Guest House

March 17, 2023

Annie Le’s Kyoto guest house collection is named A Day in Khaki, inspired, she says, for the beguilingly tranquil colors of the city. Her focus is on giving visitors a chance to immerse in the history of Kyoto by staying in century-plus-old structures. The first “Khaki” location is in a restored machiya, an antique wooden townhouse near Nijo Castle: we recently spotlighted it in our Design Travel Tour of Artful Hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Today, we’re dropping in on Annie’s new location, A Day in Khaki Muromachi,, within walking distance of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace. Set in a storied old silk factory with courtyards and the original owner’s dwelling in front, the compound was given a thoughtful remodel by Takato Yochida and his team at Ikken architecture. His mandate was to celebrate the original setting while making it a wonderful year-round place to hang your hat. Let’s take a look.

Photography by Kevin Ho, courtesy of A Day in Khaki, unless noted.

to find a day in khaki muromachi, look for the pine tree rising from the front  17
Above: To find A Day in Khaki Muromachi, look for the pine tree rising from the front courtyard. The historic compound is sandwiched between modern apartments buildings and its pine is what Annie says first stopped her in her tracks: “the tree stands tall amid its neighbors. In Japan, pine trees symbolize longevity and endurance.”
the front and back buildings are divided by a courtyard brought back to life by 18
Above: The front and back buildings are divided by a courtyard brought back to life by gardener Daisuke Narui of Kyouniwa Narui. It has another pine as its centerpiece and, Annie, says, draws on the Japanese concept of shichūnosankyo, urban mountain living. Guests can rent the whole complex—it sleeps 10—or its two halves.

Front Building: Formerly a Family Home

one of the three bedrooms in the restored dwelling opens to the front courtyard 19
Above: One of the three bedrooms in the restored dwelling opens to the front courtyard, the room’s private moss garden. The bedside leather hanging light is by Taiwanese artist group Temperature Studio.
the dining area overlooks the central courtyard. reed shades help keep the room 20
Above: The dining area overlooks the central courtyard. Reed shades help keep the rooms cool in summer.
the compact kitchen. 21
Above: The compact kitchen.
there are two more bedrooms upstairs—all three rooms in this half of the 22
Above: There are two more bedrooms upstairs—all three rooms in this half of the compound have “Western-style” setups with mattresses and boxsprings on wooden floors. The space under the stairs is put to use as a closet. Note the original beams and wall: “The design was carried out while considering how to weave the new into the old. As much as we could, we retained and repaired the old, such as the decaying mud walls,” says Annie.
the shady terrace overlooks the central courtyard. 23
Above: The shady terrace overlooks the central courtyard.

Back Building: A Converted Textile Factory

the factory in the rear of the property made nishijin ori, the woven patterned  24
Above: The factory in the rear of the property made Nishijin-ori, the woven patterned silk that the Nishijin district of Kyoto is known for. The architects preserved the main floor of the workroom as a living area (that’s one of the original wooden looms against the wall).

Most of the  furnishings came from designer Katsuyoshi Kameda’s company Django, which sells a mix of new and vintage pieces, and his own artful mashups. The glass pendant lights throughout are from Aruse, which also makes new designs from old parts. Photograph by Tsujii Shotaro, courtesy of Ikken.

the factory building&#8\2\17;s small kitchen is neatly tucked under and alo 25
Above: The factory building’s small kitchen is neatly tucked under and alongside the stair.
a django table: &#8\2\20;katsuyoshi kameda collects scrap materials and imm 26
Above: A Django table: “Katsuyoshi Kameda collects scrap materials and immerses himself in picking up and putting pieces together,” says Annie.
the existing stairs had such narrow treads and high risers that they were diffi 27
Above: The existing stairs had such narrow treads and high risers that they were difficult to climb—so for livability, each of the quarters has a new set of stairs. Photograph by Tsujii Shotaro, courtesy of Ikken.
the two bedrooms upstairs in the factory are japanese style, with tatami mats,  28
Above: The two bedrooms upstairs in the factory are Japanese-style, with tatami mats, futons, and shoji screens. The wallpaper—in a custom khaki—is traditional washi paper by artist Wataru Hatano.

“Washi paper is known to be extremely durable; it can last for centuries without decaying,” says Annie. “Like Nishijin-ori, it’s an increasingly rare art form; at A Day in Khaki, we think it’s important to carry on these traditional crafts into the future.” Photograph by Tsujii Shotaro, courtesy of Ikken.

each half of the compound has its own soaking tub. 29
Above: Each half of the compound has its own soaking tub.
the upstairs hall ends with a courtyard view and a light from aruse. 30
Above: The upstairs hall ends with a courtyard view and a light from Aruse.

The compound rents for approximately $450 to $650 a night—rates fluctuate depending on the season and number of people. See more at A Day in Khaki.

Two more Japanese guest houses in historic settings—to visit or admire from afar:

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