Translated by Allie
Stay in a Traditional Thatched Cottage in Miyama, Kyoto
Would you like to take a break from the modern world and spend some time surrounded by nature? Come to Miyama in Kyoto prefecture, where you can stay in a gorgeous thatched cottage.
Written by Anna Namikawa
Traveling by both trains and buses for about one and a half hour from KyotoStation, will bring you to a small rural town located in the middle of Kyotoprefecture, called Miyama (美山).
The Japanese characters that make up the name Miyama mean "beautiful (美) mountain (山)", which couldn't be a better fit for this area. Today we would like to introduce to you this town of beautiful mountains and a unique accommodation that you can experience here.
Let's discover the life of a thatched village here in Miyama.
Live with Nature
There are kayabuki-yane (*1) houses at the foot of these mountains.
There are no skyscrapers, no neon lights, no billboards, nothing; there is nothing to destroy the charming rural atmosphere of Miyama. Its simply stunning nature - fields, buckwheat flowers, cosmos and susuki (Japanese pampas grass) - spreads as far as the eye can see.
It is said that Miyama, where it feels like time is slowing down, is the most beautiful village in Japan.
*1 Kayabuki-yane: a type of roof structure using kaya (pampas grass) as a material for thatching. This way of building a roof was traditionally used in villages.
If you visit Miyama, you should try their Miyama Milk and hiragai tamago (free-range eggs). It will be really fun to buy these local products and cook them yourself in the kitchens of the cottages we will introduce later.
If you want to buy food produced in Miyama, here is the place you should go, Flat Miyama (ふらっと美山).
Local fresh vegetables, rice, eggs, milk, as well as local processed meat products such as ham and sausages are sold here.
Let's move on to the accommodation.
From Miyama Futon & Breakfast or Miyama F&B for short, you can rent Hanabusa, a thatched cottage that has been standing for 150 years.
There are several dining options available to you here; you can bring your own food to prepare for yourself in their kitchens, or you may order different dinner services such as beef sukiyaki and Japanese hot pot served by the sunken hearths (irori).
The picture above is of the irori, which was historically used for both preparing meals and heating the home in cool weather. Just looking at it is exciting, but having the chance to actually use one is amazing.
Doesn't that sound relaxing, sitting about and chatting near the irori?
The attic room is furnished with a desk and chairs. Here you can do whatever you like; read books, listen to music, or simply rest. It is the ideal spot to just kick back and enjoy yourself here at Hanabusa thatched cottage.
In this area, you will find the suikinkutsu (水琴窟), a common feature of Japanese gardens, which is a buried earthen jar that makes beautiful sounds when water drips into it; yet another way to relax while staying in this cottage.
This feature is placed in the storehouse close to the main building, making it a spot that all guests can try.
Though this is a traditional Japanese cottage, the kitchen, bath and bathroom facilities have all been fully modernized.
Furthermore, there are many optional activities available, such as bike rentals, a walking tour and cooking classes on making maki-zushi (sushi rolls), mochi-tsuki (making pounded rice cakes) and others on bamboo handicrafts.
From the right, Mr. Nishio, a manager of Miyama F&B and a thatched roofer, Ms. Tome (85) and Ms. Tsukie (78) who are cleaners.
When I met the staff members here in Miyama, my very first impression was that Miyama F&B really helps to build a sense of community in this area.
Miyama is an underpopulated area in Japan, so it is very necessary for people to work together and to provide help for others in need. Miyama F&B is a place of mutual assistance where everybody helps each other out.
Mr. Nishio, a manager of Miyama F&B, told us that he believes he "could not manage his business without the help of the locals in the area", a point which really helps him to be accepted by the locals. Mr. Nishio is not originally from Miyama though; after graduating from university, he moved to Miyama where he trained as a kayabuki-shokunin (thatched roofer).
He started Miyama F&B after he completed his training as he wanted to tell others about the superb landscape and historical buildings found in Miyama.
A Specialist in Thatched Roofs Around the World
We asked Mr. Nishio about the attractiveness of kayabuki:
"It looks different every morning."
He informed us that these roofs look different depending on the weather, which made us really interested in getting a closer look at the roofs to find out exactly what he meant. So we asked Mr. Nishio to let us take part in building a thatched roof.
Miyama F&B guests may also have this experience.
This is his original kayabuki cottage; the picture above is the modern style of kayabuki cottage called Miyama Kaya Villa. Mr. Nishio would like to keep this place as a refuge, so if you would like to know more about this cottage, you will just have to stay there.
The view from the terrace is stunning. There are no particular rules as to how you should stay at these two cottages. So why don't you come to Miyama Futon & Breakfast and have your own unique experience living in a thatched cottage amid beautiful mountains?
You can make a reservation here from all over the world. It is also possible to email or call them for reservations.
Miyama Futon & Breakfast
Address: Kyoto, Nantan, Miyamachō Jyoshi, Hanabusa 29
Closed: Open all year around
Credit Cards: VISA, Master, American Express, Diners, JCB
Other Languages: Japanese and English
Menu in other languages: English
Nearest Station: JR Sonobe Station (園部駅)
Access: Pick up service from JR Sonobe Station is offered
Price Range: Stay at Hanabusa (10 people) starts from 10,990 yen per person (subject to change); Kaya Villa (5 people) starts from 6,880 yen per person (subject to change)
Phone number: +81-771-75-5125
Official Website: Miyama Futon & Breakfast
Miyama Official Website: Miyama Navi