Ryugon
  (龍言)

Ryugon is one of the most famous guesthouses in Japan.

It opened its doors as a guesthouse in 1969 after the construction began in 1964.

Utsugi Toshio, the founder of this traditional ryokan, saw a lot of houses in his hometown replaced by modern buildings when he returned from a longer stay out of town. After several unsuccessful attempts to convince the villagers to preserve the traditional buildings, he started to collect houses to combine them into a beautiful Japanese guesthouse.

In 2019 this hoary guesthouse in Niigata was temporarily closed and completely renovated to reopen in a new and beautiful look in the summer of the same year.

Although ryugon is now a luxury hotel, it still has the old charm. The best architects and interior designers have thought of how to transport the message of the Snow Country through material and shapes and the result is gorgeous.

Contents

Introduction
History of the guesthouse
Buildings
  -Chumon-zukuri-
  -The Gate Nagaya Mon
  -Kura Zashiki
  -Shin Zashiki
  -Onma Zashiki
  -Genkan

Rooms
  -Yucho no Ma
  -Keisetsu no Ma and Koshoin no Ma
  -Mushin no Ma
  -Kimigaya
  -Entsu no Ma
  -Meijuan

Gardens
  -Main Garden
  -The Courtyard Garden
  -The Front Garden
  -The Mountain-Stream Garden
  -The Tortoise Waterfall Garden

The Onsen Baths
  -Yawaragi no Yu
  -Madoka no Yu

From 龍言 to ryugon
Snow protection methods
Around ryugon
Access & General Information

15 pages
31 pictures & illustrations
15 MB
2020

eBook will be delivered as pdf.

Ryugon Video



Watch the Ryugon video here.


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Directions

How to get there
Take the Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo for one and a half hour and get off at Echigoyuzawa station.
If you booked a stay at the Ryokan, a shuttle service will wait for you in front of the station.
If you prefer to go by yourself by train, take the JR Joetsu Line until Muikamachi and walk for 20min into South-eastern direction or take a taxi (6min).

Costs
A stay at the Ryokan costs from $180 upwards.

Address
〒949-6611 新潟県南魚沼市坂戸1-6
1-6 Sakado, Minami-Uonuma, Niigata 949-6611
Tel.: 025-772-3470

Mirei Shigemori Garden Museum  (重森三玲邸)

The Shigemori Residence is a traditional town house (Machi-ya) dating from the middle Edo period (1789). It has a garden and two tea ceremony pavilions, which both were designed by the famous modern Japanese garden scholar and designer Mirei Shigemori.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto main station, take the city bus 206. Get off after 17 stops (32 minutes) at the bus stop Kyodai-Seimon-mae (京大正門前).
From there walk 260 meter to the east and turn right at the road fork.

Address
34 Kamiojicho, Yoshida Sakyoku, Kyoto 606-8312, Japan

Contact
Fax +81 (0)75 761 8776 E-mail shima753@hotmail.com


Due to limited access by reservation only.
Explanations in Japanese only.

Ninna-ji  (仁和寺)

Ninna-ji is one of Kyoto’s oldest temples. It was founded in 888 (Heian period) by emperor Oda. From that time on until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), the position of the temple’s head priest was always held by a son of a reigning emperor. Naturally, the temple was the center of the tennō’s supporters, but lost influence under the ruling of the Muromachi shogunate in the Muromachi period.

It burned down completely during the Ōnin war, but was rebuilt between 1641 and 1646. The garden in front of the Shinden was rebuilt in 1914. It has a pond and can be viewed from the veranda. The buildings are all connected with covered walkways that are characteristic for Shinden style architecture, the architecture of palaces and aristocratic residences in the Heian period (794-1185).

Although Ninna-ji is really close to tourist magnets like Ryoan-ji and Myoshin-ji, it has significantly less visitors. The buildings and gardens are well-maintained and some superior artwork is on display on the sliding doors in the study room.

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Directions

How to get there
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, Ouchi Omuro 33
Take the Kyoto city bus 8, 10, 26 or 59 to the stop Omuro-Ninna-ji and walk in northern direction.

Address
JP: 〒616−8092 京都府京都市右京区御室大内33
EN: 33 Omuroouchi,Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 〒616-8092

Admission
500 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 4.30pm (Dec – Feb)
9am – 5pm (Mar – Nov)

Jizō-in  (地蔵院)

Jizō-in is a really small temple with great atmosphere. Just a few minutes away from Saihō-ji, the moss temple, it is overlooked by most tourists. It was built as a temple of the Buddhist Rinzai school in 1367 by Hosokawa Yoriyuki, the founding priest was Musō Soseki. Like most of Kyoto’s temples and palaces, it was destroyed in the fires of the Ōnin war between 1467-77. During the Edo period (1603-1868), it was re-built.

The temple is also called bamboo temple, or take-no-tera (竹の寺). The approach to the temple is unique: A bamboo grove grows around the temple and creates a mysterious atmosphere. The main hall has a beautiful small garden with several Jizo stone sculptures. Since there are few visitors, it is the perfect spot to sit and contemplate while looking at the old garden.

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Directions

How to get there
Jizō-in is situated close to Saihō-ji, the moss temple, in the picturesque Arashiyama mountains to the west of Kyoto. Although you need to change trains, it is not very complicated to get there. First get to Katsura station by taking the Hankyu Kyoto line. In Katsura, change to the cute trains of the Hankyu Arashiyama line to get to Matsu-o station. From there, you can take bus 78 to get to Koke-dera. After that, it is only a short walk to the temple.

You can also go directly from Kyoto station with bus 28 until Matsuo-Taisha-mae and walk around 15 min in southern direction. From the Sanjō station of the Keihan line, you can take bus 63 to the final stop ‘Koke-dera’.

Opening hours
9am to 4:30pm

Telephone
075-391-3631

Admission
500 Yen

Shirakawa-in Garden  (白河院庭園)

The Shirakawa-in is a high-class ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with a small but superb garden. Its history traces back to the early Heian period (794-1185), when the imperial court and the first regent of the Fujiwara clan built their villas on this ground. Later, tennō Shirakawa (1053-1129) abdicated in the age of 44 in favor of his son, became a monk and moved to the Shirakawa-in. From there he reigned as cloistered emperor behind the scenes for 41 more years.

The garden that we see today has been restored by Kogawa Jihee, a famous plantsman of the modern Japan (1860-1933). The garden is a strolling garden with a small pond. There is also a tea house in the southeastern corner. It is a wonderful secret garden, and if you happen to be in the area (Heian-jingu, Nanzen-ji), do stop by and enjoy the atmosphere.

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Directions

How to get there
Shirakawa-in is situated on the north side of the Kyoto Zoo. Take the city bus number 5, 57, 32 or 100 to Doubutsu-en-mae (動物園前 – Kyoto Zoo). From there walk north. When you can see the big Heian Shrine to your left, turn right and follow the street. Shirakawa-in is to your left side.

Address
Kyōto, Sakyō-Ku, Hōshōji-chō 16
Telephone: 075-761-0201

Admission
free

Shōsei-en (Kikoku-tei)  (渉成園)

Shōsei-en is a garden that belongs to Higashi-Hongan-ji, the big temple of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism just north of Kyoto station. The garden is said to have belonged to the residence of the son of tennō Saga and was built in the early Heian period (794-1185). The pond most likely remained from the original design. The garden we see today, was laid out in 1641 after the shogun Tokugawa donated the land to the Hongan-ji. The garden design was probably realized by the intellectual Ichikawa Jozan and artist, tea master and aristocrat Kobori Enshu,

The garden has a pond and some tea houses, cherry trees that are a visitor magnet in spring. It is just a few meters away from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto station. While you can still hear the cars and see some of the surrounding buildings, it is good to see that these beautiful places do exist in modern Kyoto.

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Directions

How to get there
Shōsei-en is not far from the Kyoto station. Take the north exit and walk one block north and then another block in eastern direction. It will take aproximately 7 minutes. You can also take the city bus number 5 to Kawaramachi Shomen.

Admission
500 Yen donation is recommended

Opening hours
9am – 4pm, last entry 3:30pm

Address
Kyoto-Shi, Shimogyo-Ku, Aidanocho-higashiiru, Shimojuzuyamachi-dori, Higashitamamizu-cho 300

Tōji-in  (等持院)

Tōji-in is another garden attributed to garden designer and Zen priest Musō Soseki. The first Shogun of the Muromachi period, Ashikaga Takauji, built this temple and had Musō Soseki design it. This rather small and secret temple is the family temple of the Ashikaga clan and all of the Ashikaga shoguns are buried here. In the Reikō-den, 15 wooden statues of the Ashikaga shogun and one statue of the following shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu are lined up. Their faces, especially their eyes look incredibly realistic.

In the western garden, there is a pond, a strolling path around it, and a tea house on top of an artificial hill. Before the neighboring university was built, the northern mountains formed the backdrop of the garden. The eastern part of the garden has a lot of trees and winding ways around the pond, so that the visitor loses orientation before the path leads him back to the main buildings.

This garden is one of the calmest, less frequented gardens in Kyoto and perfect for a break. There is also green tea being served on the veranda with a great view on the garden.

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Directions

How to get there
Take the bus number 205 from Kyoto station towards Kujoshako-mae. After 19 stops and 37 minutes, get off at the Kinugasako-mae (衣笠校前) bus stop. Then walk 900 meter in towards the west to get to Tōji-in.

Opening times
9am-5pm

Admission
500 Yen 

Address
北区等持院北町63
Kyoto-fu, Kita-ku, Tōji-in, Kitamachi 63

Jōruri-ji  (浄瑠璃寺)

Jōruri-ji (浄瑠璃寺) is a temple of the Jōdo school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded in 1047 by the priest Eshin. It is laid out around a large pond, which was dug out in 1150. Ponds in temples of the Pure Land school symbolize the ocean between birth and death, with a center island that depicts earth.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the JR Nara line towards Nara. After 6 stops and 35 minutes, change trains in Kizu (木津) to the Kansai Main like towards Kamo (加茂). Get off the train in Kamo and take a taxi to the temple (5km, 12 minutes)

Opening times
9am – 5pm

Admission
300 Yen

Address

京都府木津川市加茂町西小札場40
Futaba-40 Kamocho Nishio
Kizugawa, Kyoto Prefecture 619-1135

Konchi-in  (金地院 南禅寺)

Konchi-in is a sub-temple of the Nanzen-ji temple complex. The temple was built in the early 15th century by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi (足利義持). In 1605, it was relocated from northern Kyoto to its present location inside the Nanzen-ji temple complex. A few years later, between 1611 and 1632, the garden was built in preparation of the shogun’s visit. It is fairly certain that the famous garden designer and tea master Kobori Enshu (小堀遠州) has built the garden. A lot of gardens around Kyoto have been attributed to him, but in contrast to these, the creation process of this temple garden is very well documented.

The garden is said to have been designed as a two dimensional picture, not unlike a fusuma-e (襖絵)、a painting on the wooden screen that often depict landscape scenes and nature. Indeed, the garden can only be viewed from the veranda of the Main Hall of the temple. A wide band of light gray gravel separates the rock arrangements from the viewer. The main feature of the garden is the duo of Crane and Turtle island, arranged with rocks and shrubs.

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Directions

How to get there
Take city bus number 5 and get off the bus at the Nanzen-ji bus stop. Walk about 8 minutes in eastern direction. As for the subway, Keage Station on the Tozai line is a short 7-10 minute walk away.

The most beautiful way to get to Nanzen-ji and its sub-temples is to walk the picturesque Philosopher’s path, which connects Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion.

Address
Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city
京都市左京区南禅寺福地町

Admission
400 Yen

Taizō-in (Myōshin-ji)  (退蔵院)

Taizo-in is a small Zen Buddhism temple located in northwestern Kyoto on the quiet and spacious grounds of Myoshin-ji. With its beautiful gardens and treasures of Japanese art, Taizo-in is the oldest and most famous sub-temples of the Myoshin-ji complex. It was founded in 1404 and the gardens are said to have been designed by the painter Kano Motonobu in the Muromachi period.

Taizo-in is open to receive and educate international visitors about Zen culture. Here you can experience Zen meditation, tea ceremony, calligraphy, and temple-stay with a friendly and dedicated staff.

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Directions

How to get there

Take the JR Sanin Main line from Kyoto station (platform 32 or 33) towards Sonobe (園部). After 11 minutes, get off at Hanazono station (花園). From there, walk back 500 meters in north-eastern direction to get to the Myoshin-ji temple complex.

Opening times
9am – 5pm

Admission
500 yen

Address
京都市右京区花園妙心寺町35
Kyoto-shi, Ukyo-ku, Hanazono Myoshin-ji-cho 35