No approvals yet under new short-term letting rules in Kyoto

With less than a month until Japan’s nationwide short-term letting (minpaku) law goes into effect, applications from potential hosts in Kyoto City remain in the single digits.

The city’s application desk has received six applications, while zero have been approved. Kyoto City has the strictest minpaku rules in the country, with properties in exclusive residential zones limited to operations for up to 60 days per year between January 15 and March 15 (the winter months). Properties outside those zones that are not occupied by hosts must have a licensed property manager stationed around the clock within a 10 minute radius of each property. There are some exceptions for properties where the host lives on the premises, and for traditional machiya townhouses.

Wacoal’s Kyoto Machiya guesthouse to open tomorrow

Wacoal Holdings, a lingerie company, will open their first traditional machiya guesthouse in Kyoto on April 28. The 92-year old townhouse is located 800 meters west of Nanzen-ji Temple and 500 meters south of Heian Shrine. The two-storey wooden house has a total floor area of 91 sqm (980 sq.ft) and can sleep up to six guests. Nightly rates range from 60,000 ~ 180,000 Yen plus tax, depending on the season and number of guests.

Ace Hotel to open hotel in Kyoto’s historic Shinpukan building

Ace Hotel, a boutique hotel chain headquartered in Portland, is making its first foray in the Asian market with the opening of a hotel in Kyoto next year. The 213-room Ace Hotel Kyoto will be the main part of the historic Shinpukan redevelopment. With architect Kengo Kuma leading the project’s design, the hotel will incorporate the existing building’s early 20th century architectural elements with contemporary styling. The building is the perfect fit for the hotelier’s brand which focuses on reviving and repurposing older and more character-filled buildings.

Renovation company Intellex joins Kyoto guesthouse market

Intellex’s first guesthouse, located near Kiyomizu Temple.

Intellex, a property renovation giant, announced their entrance into Kyoto’s guesthouse market. The company will start buying traditional machiya townhouses, renovate them and operate them as licensed guesthouses for tourists who want to rent an entire house for the duration of their stay. The project cost is estimated at 480 million Yen (approx. 4.5 million USD) to be spread across five guesthouses.

Their first guesthouse is a 100-year old, 2-storey machiya house located alongside Chawan-zaka, the road that leads up to Kiyomizu Temple. It has a total building size of 111 sqm (1,194 sq.ft) and can host groups of up to 10 guests. Nightly rates range from 36,000 ~ 60,000 Yen and up, depending on the season and number of guests.

Foreign tourists now make up 40% of hotel guests in Kyoto

A survey of 36 leading hotels in Kyoto has found that the percentage of foreign guests has exceeded 40% for the first time since reporting began in 2014. According to the Kyoto City Tourism Association, the share of foreign guests in 2017 was 40.5%, up 3.2 points from 2016. The busiest season for foreign tourists was April, with a share of 50.9%, up 5.3 points from the previous year.

The hotels reported an occupancy ratio of 88.8%, down 0.1 points from 2016. January, which is typically the worst month for tourism, had an occupancy ratio of 75.7%, up 4.3 points from 2016.

Japan’s apartment living ratios in 2017

Tokyo Kantei has issued their annual report ranking the cities and towns across Japan that have the highest percentage of condominium-type apartments as a share of total households. According to the data, 12.41% of households in Japan were living in apartments in 2017, up 0.10 points from 2016.

In the Tokyo metropolitan area, the ratio was 27.20% – the highest in the country. Kanagawa Prefecture was in second place with 22.68%.

Kyoto approves minpaku rule requiring host to be within 10 minute radius of property

On February 23, Kyoto City approved a local ordinance that will impose strict rules on hosts of unlicensed short-term ‘minpaku’ accommodation.

For properties located in exclusive residential zones, hosts can only provide accommodation for a maximum of 60 days per year and only during the off-season winter months from January 15 to March 15. Both traditional machiya townhouses and properties where the host also lives on the premises may be exempt if certain requirements are met.

Shikoku Railway Co to develop guesthouses in Kyoto

Shikoku Railway Company (JR Shikoku) is planning to open traditional-style guesthouse accommodation in Kyoto to cater to the growing demand from foreign tourists.

Their first project is a group of three townhouses under construction on a 170 sqm block of land just south of Kyoto Station and 14 minute walk to Tofuku-ji Temple. The total project cost is estimated at 150 million Yen (approx. 1.4 million USD).

Blue Bottle to open cafe in renovated traditional building in Kyoto this month

Blue Bottle Coffee will be opening a cafe in a traditional old building in Kyoto on March 23rd. This will be the company’s 8th store in Japan and their first store outside of Tokyo.

The cafe is located in the Nanzenji district and is 400 meters west of Nanzen-ji Temple.  A 100-year old town house is currently in the final stages of being renovated into a 452 sqm (4,860 sq.ft) cafe with 44 seats, a shop selling original items, and a courtyard space.

Kyoto to demolish 1 billion Yen EXPO 92 relic

The Danish Pavilion built for EXPO 92 in Seville and relocated to Japan in 1993 may be demolished early this year.

The pavilion was designed by Knud Holscher of KHR Architects AS and Erik Reitzel and debuted in Spain in 1992.  The town of Tanba (now part of Kyotamba town) purchased the building for approximately 1 billion Yen (about 9 million USD at the time) as a symbol for cultural exchange between the two countries. It was shifted to Tanba to a site that the then-mayor was planning to convert into the Kyoto Denmark Park. The ambitious project was considered ground-breaking but quickly turned into a white elephant.  The plans never eventuated after the mayor was caught up in a corruption scandal. The following economic malaise of the 1990s sealed the project’s fate.