We arranged to stay four nights at the Tenseian as part of a two-week trip to Japan. It was definitely the highlight of our stay. Kyoto does not require us to sing its praises as it is simply one of the most beautiful places in the world. But it should be said that the Tenseian is a particularly well placed spot from which to explore the city, placed as it is near many of the finest temples and close to Gion which is the district foreign tourists are likely to find most captivating in the evenings.
The owner of the Tenseian, Mr Haraguchi, made every imaginable effort to have me and my partner feel at home in what was previously his own home: he and his wife were there to greet us upon arrival from the station, he took us to several of the more far-flung temples and shrines thus greatly increasing the number of wonderful sights we were able to visit, he showed us where to eat, where to wander, and even where to stand if we wished to catch a glimpse of a geisha. As we are interested in pottery and ceramics we asked if we could see his own work - he is a superb potter - and he showed us his studio where we could admire his fine work (some of which is in the Biritish Museum).
The accommodation itself is all one might wish for from a Japanese house: full of atmosphere, genuine, comfortable, and in the midst of glorious trees. The walk home there every evening, through the shrine and the park, was one of the highlights of our stay - so peaceful and enchanting.
I feel I can't finish this review without saying a word about the one negative review that I read on Tripadvisor. I had to laugh when its author ("Nice couple but rough accommodation") suggested that what was "rough" was that he had been bitten by some mosquitoes! Can he really imagine that the presence of mosquitoes in the environment is an inn-keeper's responsibility! (The inn itself has effective anti-mosquito shutters.) And as for the notion that walking through the park at night is dangerous or unsuitable for women and children, this is simply preposterous: the park and its environs - note, the ryokan is not in the park, as the author suggests but above it - struck me and my partner both as eminently safe and utterly lovely. I am a well seasoned traveller in East and West and I have never had less of a sense of threat or danger than when staying at the Tenseian. Next time, sir, pack your mosquito spray for your walks through the woods, and take your tesar against the phantoms in your head!
We left Kyoto determined to return before long, and I hope it will be to Mr Haraguhi's Tenseian Salon where we spent such happy days and evenings. Such hospitality is very hard to find.
- Also Known As:
- Salon Haraguchi Tenseian Hotel Kyoto