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Take a walk around Kyoto’s Ishibe Alley and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another time. You can peek into Kyoto’s private life and history in this unassuming little street. Exquisite traditional wooden homes and establishments open up onto the cobblestone alley. Hostesses in opulent kimono gowns can be seen serving tea as they did when Kyoto was the Imperial Capital of Japan.
It’s easy to walk right by the turnoff to the narrow, winding pathway of Ishibe Alley. Enter the alley nearby Kodai-ji Temple and you’ll find the quaint street that is lined with historic wooden architecture, almost unchanged since the Taisho Period. Stroll along the stone-paved street and check out the houses along the way. You’ll see traditional wood-paneled buildings with understated entrances, marked only by sliding rice-paper doors and pretty “noren” flag curtains, swinging lanterns and bamboo fences. Strolling around Ishibe Alley, you may see women dressed in geisha-style kimono gowns who will pose for photographs.
Find a teahouse and take a seat on the “tatami” mats, after removing your shoes. If the teahouse is especially traditional, a server wearing a kimono gown will greet you and take you through the tea ceremony. Often, the tea ceremony is conducted with matcha, a type of powdered green tea. The server uses a special tea bowl, spoon and whisk to carefully prepare the tea, and it may be served to you with a “mochi,” a rice cake, often filled with adzuki (sweet red bean) paste.
Ishibe Alley is open daily for free and is located nearby Higayashiyama-Yasui, as well as Hankyu Kawaramachi and Keihan Shijo stations. Explore the alley during the day for tea and candy and return at night to see lanterns illuminating the different venues. Combine your visit to Ishibe Alley with a trip to Kodaiji Temple and the Yasaka Pagoda. You can also reach Ishibe Alley if you take a pleasant 20-minute walk from Yasaka Shrine to Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
If you are wondering where to stay in Ishibe Alley, browse our Ishibe Alley lodging options. There are 344 different hotels to choose from in this highly popular destination.
The Hiiragiya Ryokan, at Nakahakusancho, and the Ryokan Yoshida-sanso, at 59-1 Yoshida Shimo-ooji-cho, Sakyo-ku are two of the higher-ranking accommodation options in Ishibe Alley. Stay at either and you'll be bound to have some of the best guest amenities and hotel features in town. The Oyama Guest House Kyoto, at 31-7 Miyanogo-cho, and the Station Ryokan Sparkling Dolphins Kyoto, at 56 Kamigoryo-cho, Higashikujo are two cheaper listings that may be worth checking out if you're traveling on a tight budget.
One of the most popular aspects of any vacation in Ishibe Alley is Kiyomizu Temple. If you'd prefer to stay within walking distance of the must-see attraction, the Ishibekoji Ryugin and the Gion Hatanaka are both recommended options.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Aquarium. Kyoto Railway Museum and Kawaramachi are also within 2 mi (3 km). Kyoto Station is 9 minutes by foot and Toji Station is 12 minutes.
Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Nishiki Market and Chion-in Temple. Heian Shrine and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also within 2 mi (3 km). Sanjo Keihan Station and Sanjo Station are within a 2-minute walk.
Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hokanji Temple and Kodaiji Temple. Kiyomizu Temple and Gion Corner are also within 15 minutes. Higashiyama Station is 19 minutes by foot and Gion-shijo Station is 16 minutes.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Nishiki Market, Kawaramachi and Pontocho. Kyoto MINAMIZA Theatre and Shijo Omiya are also within 15 minutes. Kiyomizu-gojo Station is 9 minutes by foot and Shijo Station is 9 minutes.
Located in Gion, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Gion Corner, Kiyomizu Temple and Heian Shrine. Sanjusangendo Temple and Kyoto Tower are also within 2 mi (3 km). Gion-shijo Station is only a 5-minute walk and Kawaramachi Station is 8 minutes.
Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is steps away from Kyoto National Museum and Sanjusangendo Temple. Kyoto Tower and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 1 mile (2 km). Shichijo Station is 6 minutes by foot and Kiyomizu-gojo Station is 14 minutes.
Located in Higashiyama, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Gion Corner. Kawaramachi and Nishiki Market are also within 1 mile (2 km). Kiyomizu-gojo Station is 16 minutes by foot and Gion-shijo Station is 17 minutes.
Located in Higashiyama, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Kiyomizu Temple and Kawaramachi. Nishiki Market and Kyoto University are also within 2 mi (3 km). Higashiyama Station is 14 minutes by foot and Gion-shijo Station is 11 minutes.
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