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One of Kyoto’s Newest Boutique Hotels Offers Japanese Traditional and Modern Design

by Ron Bernthal

Mar 24, 2023

© Maana Homes


Maana Homes is a boutique hospitality company in Kyoto with a mission to develop projects cultivating meaningful connections between Japanese culture and the rest of the world. Since the company’s beginnings in 2017, they have pushed the boundaries of traditional Japanese machiya by repositioning and giving them a new identity in the modern world. Machiya are traditional Japanese wooden townhouses popular with Kyoto merchants and craftspeople until just before World War II. Because Kyoto was not bombed during the war, many fine machiya survived to the present day.

Maana Homes currently has three properties in Kyoto: Maana Kyoto, Maana Kamo and the third and newest property Maana Kiyomizu, fully opened in late 2022.


© Maana Homes

“Our vision for the machiya project is to bring the essence of ancient Kyoto into the modern world, through an intimate journey of food, crafts and stays,” said Hana Tsukamoto, co-founder and COO, Maana Homes.

Maana Kiyomizu offers three suites, a retail shop and a café within a row of machiya houses in the heart of Kyoto. The project’s creative vision is made possible by a close friendship and partnership between Maana Homes; POJ Studio, a Japanese home goods shop; and the Japanese mythology of Kishin.

The Maana brand’s ambition is to create intimate, interactive moments where guests can tap into Japan’s lost arts and wisdom. Maana’s leaders believe “fragments of Japan’s traditional way of life are filled with inspiration for today’s modern world, and that through a multitude of human touch points for different senses these experiences can open minds and hearts.”

“We wanted to bring creative and vibrant energy into the neighborhood community with an unexpected, refreshing approach to machiya,” said Irene Chang, co-founder, Maana Homes. “We hope to inspire a renewed perception towards them, and how they can be reimagined to fit into our modern lives.”


© Maana Homes

From the outside, Maana Kiyomizu, which opened its small café, retail shop and three guest suites, blends in easily with a typical Kyoto streetscape of low-rise machiya. Stepping inside, however, the ambiance immediately tilts into a more contemporary dimension. Renovated by Kyoto architects Shigenori Uoya and Takeshi Ikei, the spaces are contemporary and minimalist, with smooth textures, soft curves and a light-toned palette evoking a refreshing edge for machiyainteriors.

The suites at Maana Kiyomizu are seamless, light-filled and open, allowing a sense of peacefulness to flow in from the surrounding, tranquil nature. The architects worked hard to allow light and air into the structure’s otherwise dark and narrow spaces. Maana properties are beloved for the bathrooms, and Kiyomizu doesn’t disappoint; Shiga artisans made the ceramic bathtub by hand, just as Gaku Nakane made the pendant above it. While soaking, guests can sip tea in cups thrown by fourth-generation clay artisans, and then stop next door at POJ Studio to purchase them, or even take a class and learn how to throw their own cups.

Suite 1 features a queen-sized bed with a built-in, oversized tub overlooking the greenery and stunning thatched roofs of Toyokuni Shrine. An enclosed walk-in shower and toilet room are attached behind the open vanity. A mini-fridge and artisan tea set is also available for guest use. A maximum of two people can stay in this suite.


© Maana Homes

Suite 2 offers a queen-sized bed and a tatami in another room that can also accommodate two extra guests. The bathroom also has a handmade shigaraki tub, enclosed shower and vanity overlooking a private garden. This suite, however, offers a dining room, coffee/tea station and a special “nook” room with large cushioned benches to relax. The suite accommodates four guests.

Suite 3, on the first floor, features an open, modern living room; an oversized dining counter that is great for working; a master bedroom; and guestroom on the second floor. The rooms are wrapped from ceiling to floor in artisan Japanese washi paper by Hatano Wataru. The bathroom provides a handmade shigaraki tub, shower and vanity overlooking the private garden. This suite accommodates four guests.

The Café/Bar Kissa Kishin is a modern take on the traditional kissaten concept. Serving coffee, matcha, breakfast and lunch with seasonal farm-fresh produce, Kissa Kishin is also a friendly space in the heart of Maana Kiyomizu’s social community.

Guests can purchase Japanese crafts at Maana Kiyomizu by stepping into the shop located adjacent to the property. All of the beautiful Japanese craft items and furnishings found in the suites are available for purchase in the shop, as well as additional Japanese household products. The shop is efficient about shipping purchased goods worldwide.

Maana Kiyomizu lies in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, a seven-minute walk to Kyoto National Museum; 10 minutes to Sanjusangendo Buddhist temple, founded in 1134; and 15 minutes to the spectacular Kiyomizu-dera temple, founded in 773. Kyoto’s main rail station is just nine minutes by taxi.

Suite 1 per night rate, double-occupancy, mid-April including breakfast, is ¥69,700 (about $525);  Suites 2 and 3 are ¥104,200 (about $785).


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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