Kyoto Area Guide: Kyoto Hotel Okura 京都ホテルオークラ
Located on the corner of Kawaramachi and Oike streets in downtown Kyoto, the Kyoto Hotel Okura is one of the premier western-style lodgings in the city and, in the not so distant past, a source of protest and discord.
The Kyoto Hotel originally opened in 1890, and was and is a landmark in Kyoto.
When the Kyoto Hotel was rebuilt, however, in 1991, it topped out at nearly 200 feet. It dwarfed all the neighboring buildings, including City Hall, which is across the street.
As a result, priests at Kiyomizu Temple, the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji), and other A-list sites barred guests at the Kyoto Hotel admittance into the temples. (In practice, it is doubtful that anyone was ever denied entry into these temples.)
Citizens groups along with the powerful Buddhist association, the latter among the most powerful groups in Kyoto, argued that development in the decades after World War II in the city had blighted the cityscapeand ruined what was special about the ancient city.
Once home to thousands and thousands of wooden homes and stores and temples, today Kyoto is a mishmash of awful modern architecture and telephone wires. Pockets of beauty remain, of course, but the city as a whole is not easy on the eyes.
The temples no longer bar visitors from the Kyoto Hotel if they ever did and the movement was a mainly symbolic effort at raising consciousness.
It appears to have, finally, worked.
The Kyoto city council this year passed regulations, over the opposition of developers, concerning building heights and signs.
Today the Kyoto Hotel Okura - it was bought out by the large Okura group - is a high-end hotel that is close to a subway stop and walking distance to all of downtown Kyoto. The hotel does a thriving wedding business on weekends, and the top floors have restaurants that afford a great view of the Kamo River below and eastern Kyoto.
Kyoto Hotel Okura
Tel: +81 75 211 5111
Fax: +81 75 254 2529
Kyoto Hotel Access
Subway: Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station, Exit B2.
Taxi from Kyoto Station a fifteen minute ride. About 1,000 yen.
From Kansai International Airport: take JR Haruka to Kyoto Station. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Kyoto is a short walk to the north on the banks of the Kamogawa.
For a full listing of Kyoto Museums & Art Galleries click here