Translated by Ken
A Zen And Matcha-Themed Stay! Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo
Written by Miho Moriya
Just ten minutes from Kyoto Station, the Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo incorporates traditions into every corner of the lodging. The minimalist rooms are inspired by Zen philosophy and tea ceremonies. It is the ideal place to stay for an immersive experience in the cultural capital of Japan.
Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo - Cultural Immersion in the Ancient Capital
Kyoto is a popular travel destination known internationally. With a rich history of politics and tradition, the city is considered the birthplace of Japanese culture to many.
Wouldn't it be great if you could experience this rich culture at your lodging? Opened in November 2019, the Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo is inspired by the philosophy of Zen Buddhism. The hotel has English-speaking staff members, as well.
The interior design incorporates elements of tea rooms and tea gardens. For example, lights modeled after chochin lanterns show the thoughtful detail contained throughout the hotel. Gardens are both inside and outside the building. The boundary between indoor and outdoor is blurred, creating a uniquely Japanese space.
But what truly sets this hotel apart is the Zen amenities, which help immerse guests in Japanese culture.
Experience Culture through Amenities?
Toothbrushes, shampoo, razors--a set of amenities are essential for a comfortable stay. In addition to the traditional amenities, the Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo has prepared cultural amenities that can help enrich your stay.
Center Your Mind with Candy
Japanese tea culture has its roots in the teachings of Zen Buddhist priest Eisai. An element of Zen discipline is the practice of zazen. Zazen is meditation done while sitting as you straighten your posture and focus on your breath. Comparable to practices of mindfulness, zazen is gaining popularity around the world.
After checking in at the front desk, you will be given candy and a pamphlet. These are for one drop Zen, a practice of zazen by focusing on the candy in your mouth.
In zazen meditation, you typically sit for 30-40 minutes. As such, beginners can find it challenging to stay focused. By contrast, it takes on average 7 minutes to finish a candy. One drop Zen is an excellent introduction to meditation.
You can also install the ON THE TRIP app on your smartphone for a sound meditation experience.
The area in which the hotel is located has a natural water spring. ON THE TRIP's sound meditation makes use of the spring's sounds. Follow the instructions on your pamphlet and step into the world of Zen.
Visit Zen Temples with an Audio Guide
If you want to learn more about Zen, we recommend visiting the various Zen temples around Kyoto. The ON THE TRIP app offers audio guides for a more informative experience.
The app has guides for seven temples. They include Kennin-ji Temple, the city's oldest temple founded by Eisai; Taizoin Temple, where an ink wash painting designated as a National Treasure is displayed; and Shunkoin Temple, where you can experience zazen meditation and tea ceremony with an English instructor.
The significance behind the history and architecture of these temples can be difficult to grasp without guidance. With this app, you can enjoy the atmosphere and stories of the temples.
Matcha Made from Spring Water
Sample image of a tea ceremony. Normally, matcha will be served by the hotel staff.
Every day from 15:00 - 18:00, the hotel serves matcha to the guests. As we mentioned, the hotel is located in an area with spring water. The water used to make the matcha is the same water used at the local bathhouse Hakusan-yu.
Some people even bottle the soft natural water to use for cooking at home.
Peaceful and Minimalist Guest Rooms
The guest rooms are a quiet, minimalist spaces adorned with only what is essential for your stay.
A hair dryer, charging cable, kettle, and cups are stored in the toolbox next to the couch. It can be used as a table, too, and the wheels make it easy for you move it around. The simplicity of the rooms reflect Japanese aesthetic preferences.
For beds, you can choose from double, twin, or triple. Beside each bed is an alarm clock, a chochin lamp, and USB ports and a wall outlet. You can choose from two room types: Japanese rooms that require you to take off your shoes or Western-style rooms that allow you to keep your shoes on.
You can also reserve a accessible room for guests with physical disabilities or adjoining rooms for a large group. The suite includes a view of Kyoto Tower.
Tea leaf extract is used for the shampoo, conditioner, and body soap. The refreshing scent of tea leaves will make taking a bath extra relaxing.
A Cafe Lounge that Turns into a Bar
Picture courtesy of Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo
While the guest rooms can help you unwind, the spacious cafe lounge is another great place to relax. Between 12:00 and 18:00, guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, tea, and sweets.
The counter seats are spaced out and have their own outlets. You can plan out your visits with a beautiful view of the garden outside.
After 18:00, the cafe becomes a bar that is open to the public. Here, visitors can savor locally-inspired sake alongside appetizers and sweets with local ingredients.
Their original menu is the special matcha zenzai (a sweet red bean dessert). Uji matcha is mixed into the red bean paste. The matcha sauce adds a subtle sweetness to the dessert.
The seven kinds of kanoko beans, made from red beans, add color to the dish. We recommend ordering Kyoto sake or whiskey to go along.
Savor Kyoto Breakfast
The breakfast buffet is the perfect opportunity to eat traditional Kyoto flavors. From twelve different kinds of pickles to appetizers and hot tofu, the buffet serves dishes every visitor should try when in the city.
Locally-grown rice is prepared in a large earthen pot. Just ask and the kitchen staff will serve you a bowl.
The miso soup is an original recipe made with the utmost care; taro root is cooked for a day before becoming a paste, and local white miso is used to complete the soup base. Finally, shiitake mushrooms, deep-fried tofu, and other ingredients are added. The soup is light and easy on the stomach, even for people who don't usually eat breakfast.
If you are vegan or have other dietary restrictions, please contact the hotel staff upon reservation. If you are in the mood for a Western-style breakfast, the buffet serves that, as well.
Like the bar lounge, the breakfast buffet is open to the public.
Experience the Roots of Japanese Culture in Kyoto
The hotel is ten minutes by public transit from Kyoto Station, or fifteen minutes on foot. The closest station is Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line's Gojo Station. The hotel is a nine-minute walk from Exit 4.
A one-night stay at Oriental Hotel Kyoto Rokujo costs around 10,000 yen on weekdays (*). Through tea and Zen, this minimalist, Zen hotel is sure to enrich your cultural experience in Kyoto.
*Prices vary by season.
In cooperation with Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, ON THE TRIP