Yoshida Sanso: A royal ryokan with a legacy second to none

Kyoto’s Yoshida Sanso is a place travellers can experience authentic tradition without having to forgo luxury. Kyoto’s reign as the cultural capital of Japan is one that cannot be denied. The city epitomizes the moment when the nation’s history and the emerging contemporary tastes, collide, and ryokan Yoshida Sanso embodies the philosophies of Kyoto quite unlike any other accommodation.


A ryokan in legacy, Yoshida Sanso offers something for those who want to escape the modern world, without abandoning modern, luxury, creature comforts.

Kyoto: The legendary location

Kyoto is no great tourist secret. In peak seasons, the city is populated by an ever-expanding tourist population. 


But go a little further, head beyond the beaten track and, be willing to seek one of a kind experiences, and Kyoto will reward you with opportunities, moments of unparalleled beauty. It will gift you insight into a pocket of Japan that will forever be known as one of the world’s greatest cultural cities. 


The location

Yoshida Sanso is situated just outside the central city limits, at the foot of Mt. Yoshida. It’s far enough from the inner-city but offers sweeping views of Kyoto from its second-floor bedrooms. The design of the space was carefully considered to frame the magnificent view of Mt. Daimonji and Kyoto’s eastern mountain range.


Nearby highlights

The historically significant sites of the Ginkaku-Ji temple and Philosopher’s Walk are both under a leisurely 20-minute stroll away. That said, once you set foot on the grounds of the charming inn, you won’t want to leave.


The royal history 

This ryokan was once the residence of Japanese Prince, Higashi-Fushimi, and grandfather of Japanese Emperor Akihito. Built in 1932, it’s clear that the architects and designers responsible for crafting the ryokan had an equal appreciation for the grandiose and an immaculate eye for detail. The building is crafted with Japanese cypress and decorated with flourishes of the Chrysanthemum Seal, also known as the Imperial Seal of Japan. It is one of the very few private spaces allowed to display such decoration.


Japanese ethos in action

As a piece of architecture, Yoshida Sanso is a study of Japanese design, authenticity, and the aesthetics of wabi-sabi, an appreciation of understated beauty. This aesthetic ideology continues through from the facade and communal areas onto the spacious, minimal traditional bedrooms which are complete with tatami-mat flooring, futon bedding, and accessorized simply with sliding doors, flower arrangements, and a wooden table with floor seating.

The layout

The ryokan has three rooms in the main house, one bedroom on the first-floor ‘Nanten,’ and two rooms on the second, ‘Fuku’ and ‘Kotobuki.’ Request the Kotobuki room in spring, as it offers the best views of the private garden’s soft pink cherry blossoms. All of the rooms have access to a communal bath, which is big enough to accommodate two or three people.


There’s also one additional fourth space on the residence, the Hanare Detached Suite nestled in the Japanese garden. The suite is designed in an architectural style known as sukiya and was constructed from the highly prized Kitayama sugi sourced from northern Kyoto.


Family business

Yoshida Sanso prides itself on offering the utmost in hospitality, without ever being overbearing. Upon arrival, all guests are greeted with Japanese tea, and sweets, accompanied by individualized poems handwritten in calligraphy by the hotel’s owner. While, upon departure, you’re gifted with a small hachimaki towel emblazoned with the chrysanthemum crest, so you can have a piece of Yoshida Sanso luxury to treasure long after check out.


The dining experience

Food is an integral element for any ryokan stay, and it’s clear that the cuisine is just another carefully considered element of Yoshida Sanso’s narrative. For dinner, the ryokan offers Kyoto-style kaiseki meals consisting of around 10 elegantly plated seasonal dishes.


Breakfast at Yoshida Sanso is a choose your own adventure style affair with Japanese or Western offerings. The first consists of fish, salad, tofu, soup and more, while the latter is made up of an omelette, sausages, bacon and fresh pastries and jam. If you’re extra peckish, or just don’t want to leave the premises, there’s also an optional kaiseki lunch and a detached European-influenced cafe which opens after breakfast service.


A real taste of Japan

What makes Yoshida Sanso such a magnificent place beyond its superior luxury facilities and royal treatment is that every inch of the space oozes traditional Japanese charm, but space doesn’t feel old. It’s the epitome of true Japanese wellness and luxury reintroduced to a modern market. By building on the natural beauty and incredibly underrated facilities on offer, the ryokan is cultivating an experience unlike any other on the map right now.