What comes to your mind when we talk about Kyoto? Most would instantly think of the stone pavements, machiya townhouses, Kaiseki cuisine, or all the types of delicate handicraft. Kyoto can well be called the home to traditional Japanese culture. The city, however, has another face that is less spoken of. Unlike the tourists, the locals in fact embrace the rather bizarre subculture of the city, and boast of the exceptional tolerance for different ways of living. Seeing how this part of Kyoto is being overlooked, RC Hotel Kyoto Yasaka near Kiyomizu-dera and Kōdai-ji decided to show to the tourists a different face of the city.
RC Hotel Kyoto Yasaka contradicts the stereotypical Kyoto culture basically in every respect. Situating in the preserved historic district near Kiyomizu-dera, which restricts newly constructed buildings to a maximum of two-story in height, the hotel managed to nestle in a four-story building that was built before the regulation. Such a tall and narrow building is a stark contrast to the old buildings in its surrounding. However, it did not stand out in a graceful manner, but rather, in a shabby way. Built more than 50 years ago this hotel with concrete facade was once used as a residential housing; most residents had moved out as it was poorly maintained. Founder of the RC Hotel, Minakuchi, was impressed by the clash of styles. He saw it an opportunity to demonstrate how old and new blend in Kyoto, as well as the coexistence of the strict tradition and the liberal attitude of the young. Minakuchi decided to preserve the original features of the building and redesign the space under the theme “Contract”. The hotel aims to deliver to the guests a less-acknowledged temperament of Kyoto.
The hotel lobby has a classy and well-furnished interior, on the contrary, the corridors were deliberately kept in its primitive forms. The metal gate is tattered, the fences and handrails are visibly rusty. Hotel guests would find a sudden change of vibe again once they enter the hotel room, in which a tidy and comfy tiny living room awaits. The custom-made bed uses a minimalistic westernized design, while the bathroom, which has a beautiful tile wall, uses the typical machiya townhouse sliding door. After removing the wall paint from the building’s residential phrase, the worn-out concrete wall underneath is exposed. Even the old screw holes on the wall are still to be seen. These traces all help to demonstrate to the guests the history and story of the building. As for the hotel logo, it is simply adopted from a graffiti someone randomly scribbled on the old front door.
Each floor of the RC Hotel Kyoto Yasaka features its unique theme. For instance, the third floor is used as an art gallery to match its theme of art. I recently visited this floor and viewed Ly’s works. RC Hotel Kyoto Yasaka will host various arts and cultural events, including forums and workshops. Let’s look forward to the birth of a new cultural spot in Kyoto.