Translated by Tomoka Aono
Renovated 118-Year Old Machiya - Guesthouse Shiro, Kanazawa
Written by Osawa Kumi
Guesthouse Shiro is located just a stone’s throw away from Kanazawa Castle. This 118-year-old machiya was fully renovated into a guesthouse, which opened in 2014.
There are many different ways to enjoy a vacation in Japan: sightseeing, enjoying local delicacies, relaxing in hot springs and even playing sports. But for some people, meeting the locals is an important part of their overall travel experience.
"I want to talk with the locals and hear their unique stories."
If that sounds like you, then you should consider staying in a Japanese guesthouse.
And if you are one of many tourists visiting Kanazawa by the newly opened Hokuriku Shinkansen, then Guesthouse Shiro is the place for you.
Guesthouse Shiro is located just a stone’s throw away from Kanazawa Castle. A 118-year-old machiya, Guesthouse Shiro was renovated and transformed into its current form in 2014. Let’s go inside the house through noren at the entrance. You will feel as if you were time-travelling back to 100 years ago.
When you slide the door at the entrance, you will see this tōshi-doma. Traditional Japanese houses have a space where you can keep your shoes on just inside the doors, which is called the doma, while the space to keep your shoes is known as the tataki. Walls of this style are called nurikabe or traditional plastered walls, and are another common feature of traditional Japanese architecture.
If you look up in doma area, you can see the open-timbered vaulted ceiling.
This is the view from the second floor.
Relaxing Common Space
There is a common area at the end of doma. The light design of the interior really shows the owners' good taste.
“I’d like to read, but all I have is a guidebook…”
No worries! There is a small library with a public computer at Guesthouse Shiro.
In the common kitchen you will find all the standard kitchen equipment such as a fridge, microwave, pots, rice cooker, frying pan, and other dishes. Why not try buying some local ingredients and cooking for yourself here? Or if you're not much of a cooking fan, at the very least, you can make yourself a cup or tea or coffee here.
This traditional-style room is another place where you can chill out. The kotatsu (a table with a heating system) is something you often find in traditional Japanese living rooms. Here you can chat and play games with other travelers, and maybe even make some lifelong friends too.
Garden Rest Space
Most machiya have a small naka-niwa (an inner garden) or ura-niwa (a backyard garden) instead of having a garden in the front.
Here you can see a few cherry blossom petals that have floated into the garden.
Though the guesthouse itself is non-smoking, they have set aside this space for smokers. Please keep quiet inside or outside of the guesthouse at night.
Here are the different types of rooms available at Guesthouse Shiro.
Tsuchi-no-heya is a room that can accommodate one to three people.
The Male Dormitory can accommodate up to 6 people. There are outlets and a small lamp are available by your bed with some luggage space.
This is the view from Kumo-no-heya, which can accommodate one to two people.
"Omotenashi" - The Japanese Hospitality
In Guesthouse Shiro, almost every sign is written in both Japanese and English and they even have these cute illustrations. Mr. Kawasaki, the owner of the guesthouse, speaks English well, so you can ask him if you have any questions.
This is a map for places to eat breakfast.
You can borrow umbrellas for free. Rental bikes (500 yen/day), rental towels (100 yen) and washer/dryers (500 yen) are available for your convenience.
The public shower has shampoo, conditioner, and body soap. A hair dryer is also available. There are three bathrooms in this facility.
Access from JR Kanazawa Station
There are three ways to get to Guesthouse Shiro from JR Kanazawa station.
1. On foot: About 20 minutes. If you have some luggage, it may take longer.
2. By taxi: About 10 minutes. The fare is approximately 1000 yen. If you have a lot of luggage or if you are with your friends, a taxi is the best option.
3. By bus: About 10 minutes. Take a bus bound for Kōrinbō or Kenroku-shita via Musashigatsuji and get off at Musashigatsuji bus stop.
These are the owners of this guesthouse, Mr. and Mrs. Kawasaki. Their wish is that their guests can enjoy some quality time in this clean and comfortable space while soaking up the historical air of this renovated building.
The charms of Kanazawa are not just the tourist spots but also about warm hospitality and slow-paced atmosphere. If you are not in a rush and want to immerse yourself in the town’s itself, Guesthouse Shiro is the best accommodation for you. It is such a wonderful guesthouse that by the end of your trip, you will feel as if you were at home and will definitely want to book a room there again.
Address: Ishikawa, Kanazawa, Ōtemachi 1-2
Hours: Check-in 15:00-20:00 (check-in closed from 11:00-15:00)
Check-out before 10:30
Closed: Occasionally (see website)
Credit Card: Cash only
Other Languages: English
Nearest Station: JR Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)
Access: 20 minute walk from east exit of Kanazawa station
Price range: 3500 yen - 10,500 yen
Phone Number: 070-5062-0030 (9:30-21:30)
Website: Guesthouse Shiro (Reservations)