Unique tea served at Kyoto’s Sumiya Inn. Think nostalgically about the past while enjoying the tea

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炭屋旅館
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Minori
Minori
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Sumiya Inn is one of the three oldest and best traditional inns (ryokan) in Kyoto. You will be surrounded by Kyoto’s old spirit right after entering inside. It’s also known as the “tea inn” since there you can enjoy the historical tradition of high-quality tea rooms. This is the only inn in Kyoto where you can experience the culture of tea.

Sumiya Inn is located near the famous touristic spot Kyoto Gyoen

Sumiya Inn is located at Fuyacho-sanjo Street where you can feel the traditional and elegant Kyoto atmosphere. This place has a long history and the building is designed in the classy style of typical tea ceremony houses. Enter through the main gate and you will be welcomed by the staff: “We are always ready to serve customers any time”. This is an invitation to experience the tea served there. Sumiya Inn is located just less than 20 minutes away from the popular touristic garden Kyoto Gyoen, so it is easily accessible.

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The only place in Kyoto to drink tea at a tea inn

It’s time to receive your tea. Sumiya Inn is unique in Kyoto with its tea service. On 7th and 17th of every month the inn serves light green tea in its tea room. On all the other days they offer tea to the leaving guests as well. The taste is nostalgic, a bit astringent but soft, and very relaxing. When I went there the tea was already prepared in my room, so I could enjoy it without waiting.

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The dinner at Sumiya Inn has the reputation of being the best among Kyoto’s inns!

Many people stay at Sumiya Inn mostly for the dinner. Here you can enjoy a traditional simple meal before the evening tea. The food bears the true spirit of the tea culture. This dinner has a reputation of being so delicious that many guests stay overnight just to try it.

It’s served in many small well-arranged plates which are brought in by the hostess at the appropriate time. The meal is also quite stylish to look at, which is another feature of old inns in Kyoto. It is by no means abundant, but all the ingredients have been carefully selected and combined in order to produce a high-quality experience.

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The room has a nostalgic old style and a relaxing clean atmosphere

The rooms for guests have a relaxing atmosphere. Sumiya Inn originally opened as a public space for drinking tea and reciting poems by people of culture, and then it became known as a meeting spot for attending tea ceremonies, flower arrangements and Noh theater demonstrations during Taisho period. The building is quite old indeed, which can be seen by its wooden structure, but is very clean and you can enjoy a relaxing time staying there.

There is a low table in the middle of the tatami room. Near the window there is a table with chairs, where you can sit and enjoy the view of the private inner garden in the typical style of Taisho period’s culture. This is an example of a Japanese style room, but in fact there are also rooms with low tatami beds suitable for elderly people. Therefore this place is ideal for a visit with your elderly parents.

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“Sengetsudoko” where you can enjoy a beautiful refined design

If you have a spare time, go and explore the inn!

You’ll find a tea room called “Sengetsudoko” which is said to be the inspiration for the Silver Temple’s Sengetsutei pavilion. There is a big arc in front of the traditional alcove whose curved line will definitely catch your attention. Here you can feel the typical Japanese sense of aesthetics especially if you imagine how the people of culture from the past used to sit in this room, drink tea and discuss various matters. You can always ask the staff to show you the room if it’s not occupied.

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Conclusion

Sumiya Inn is a place to experience traditional tea culture. Such old and high-quality inns might seem too stylish and awkward at first, but feel free to ask the staff about anything. They’ll kindly respond and will help you enjoy a classy time during your stay. Oh, and there is also a big indoor bath (besides a bath tub in every room), so be sure to try it too!

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