Atmosphere: If you appreciate the Japanese philosophies of Zen and wabi-sabi, then the four apartments of Komatsu Residences will certainly please aesthetically. Built on the site, and taking on the visage of a former Machiya (wooden, two-story Japanese townhouse that originated in the Heian period and developed through to the Edo and the Meiji periods), the new building has interiors that are bright, cosy, and thoroughly contemporary, but with aspects that pay homage to the past. Here, everything that’s magical about Kyoto comes together in a streamlined, modern, and elegant space that proves less is certainly more.
Space: Within the building are four individual apartment units spread across two floors, with a beautiful, open-air, roof deck on the third level that looks out to tranquil views of the city roofline.
On the ground floor there are two types of units – a two-bedroom unit with a living room that looks out to a small rock garden, a dining and kitchen, bathroom, a western-style bedroom, and a tatami style bedroom; and a compact studio unit with a tatami sleeping space, small dining and kitchenette, and a bathroom with a small window by the tub that looks out to another interior rock garden.
These two room types are repeated on the second level.
In the middle of the building is a courtyard garden with a tall tree in the middle that opens up to the sky. Both the two-bedroom and studio units have windows that look out to this central courtyard.
A sleek, lightweight, modern metal staircase spirals up from the ground level to the roof deck.
Light-coloured, unvarnished hinoki wood and tatami floors give the studio a warm, cocooning effect, imbuing the interiors with the poetic equanimity of Japanese minimalism.
Not a single nail was used in the joinery, which were all custom-built by Kyotoan carpenters. All of the hinoki wood furniture was designed handcrafted by the local carpenters too.
I stayed in the studio unit on the second floor, and slept deep and well every night on the mattress on the tatami sleeping area.
Discreet, shoji screen wall dividers can be slide to separate the sleeping area and dining/work area and kitchen area. There are three screens that you can use either all together to fully separate the dining and “bedroom” or singularly to create some privacy while still leaving allowing the two zones to remain connected visually.
This space immediately puts you in a relaxed and meditative mood, and is ideal if you’re looking for a retreat in the middle of vibrant Kyoto city, where you can unclutter your thoughts, recharge, and re-centre.
Amenities: The joy and ease of technically advanced Japanese gadgetry can be found throughout the apartments, which give them a really cool “The Jetsons” like vibe. The kitchen is equipped with a smart microwave that can head your milk or sake to just the right temperature, a water filter attached to the faucet, a fridge, cooktop and hood, flash for boiling and storing heated water, and an espresso machine. Cutlery, cooking utensils, espresso and milk capsules, and Japanese tea are provided.
In the bathroom, is a deep bathtub that can be set to stay warm at your desired temperature, and a spacious shower area complete with a tall mirror. There is a separate WC with a sink and a toilet with heated seat and bidet functions. Towels, a hairdryer, and toiletries are provided.
Upon arriving at the top of the stairs, one enters a dark, and quiet meditation/waiting room that leads out to the roof deck garden. For additional charge, Komatsu South can arrange for Japanese tea ceremonies on this rooftop garden, when a Japanese tea master will take you through the local tea making and drinking rituals as you enjoy the sunset or the moonlight in the evenings.
No keys are needed, as the front door and the door to your room are fitted with smart locking systems, so all you’ll need to do is save the codes that you’ve been given. Wi-Fi, house slippers and umbrellas are also provided.
Location: Tucked away on a side street just off the main thoroughfare of Higashioji Dori, Komatsu South is conveniently location for easy city explorations. From here, you can walk to the famous Kiyomizu-dera shrine and Kodaji Temple, and the charming, cobbled streets of Higashiyama. The apartment is also not far from Kawaramachi and Gion-Shiji subway stations, just a 10-minute walk to Gion, about a 20-minute walk to Nishi Market. There is a 24-hour Fresco supermarket, convenience stores, cafes and restaurants that’s just a few minutes walk from the property. If you’re worried about getting lost along Kyoto’s meandering alleys (this is have the fun though!) just stay on Higashioji Dori, which is an easy, straight road that leads to Gion and across the bridge to the downtown area.
Service: A cleaner comes every day while you’re out to freshen the apartment, wash your dishes and replace your towels, so your home away from home is always neat and clean.
Address: Komatsu Residences. 11-29 Komatsucho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Japan 605-0822. Tel: (81) 75 203 4284, firstname.lastname@example.org