Much has been written about Hiiragiya since it opened in 1861, usually rich with superlatives. Along with its cross-street neighbour Tawaraya, it’s considered the city’s greatest ryokan. The traditional element of the inn is the most famous - the 21 original rooms exude historic charm, with furnishings including a Tokugawa-family dresser and Karacho screens. Less famous is the seven-room new wing, completed in 2006 by Jun Michida, a young architect who also worked on the Miho Museum. Where Hiiragiya’s old wing displays the aesthetics of Japanese nobility, the new wing is a model of contemporary Japanese design; where a scroll would hang in a traditional room, a window frames a scene from outside. In the daytime, sunlight draws the inn’s holly leaf logo on the interior walls, thanks to cut-aways in the concrete - a technique you will also find at many temples.
Review updated October 2009