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February, 2024
The Living Pavilion, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman

Situated in a hidden garden at the foothills of the Hidari Daimon-jo mountain in north-central Kyoto, find an expansive, nature-led AMAN property that completely elevates the meaning of a ryokan-inspired urban resort.

Aman Kyoto, one of Japan’s best hotels purely for its one-of-a-kind site showcasing an untouched corner of Kyoto, presents unparalleled service and world-class dining creating a truly, unforgettable experience. Right from the stone-laid walls and gated entrance, the hotel’s atmosphere creates an enlightening visual journey in itself.

Abundance of nature at Aman Kyoto | Photo: Courtesy Aman
Garden Terrace in Autumn, Aman Kyoto | Photo: Courtesy Aman

With a unique positioning heralding just a short thirty minute drive from central Kyoto, the site immerses you within its vast and secluded landscape across 72 acres of private, maintained grounds. Abundant with indigenous trees native to the land such as Camphor trees and evergreen shrubs, find maple and camellia trees alongside exquisitely intricate stonework. The dry stone walls, impressively laid, sets an otherworldly tone for the hotel — its unique design embuing a sense of sacredness — reminiscent of ancient Inca stonework.

Designed by Kerry Hill Architects — a long-term collaborator of the Aman group — find the expansive site’s sleek and sophisticated buildings subtly integrating into the luscious nature. Here, the harmony of modern design and the organic beauty of nature is perfectly combined. As individual structures, they provide a recluse from the outside world. Starting from a small pavilion where guests first arrive for check-in, the tone is set with sublimely-crafted Nishijin textile pillows on lounges by revered Hosoo textiles established in 1688. In Kyoto, true luxury is found in details from their centuries-long history and culture of craftsmanship — one that Aman Kyoto truly embraces within their space.

The Living Pavilion, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman
Garden Terrace in Autumn, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman

The heart of the hotel is a central dining space referred to as the Living Pavilion by Aman that features floor-to-ceiling glass panels that open to the outside terrace with a central fireplace and surrounding lounges. Aman Kyoto’s Executive Chef Tatsuya Ozawa brings a stellar and acclaimed approach to the on-site dining focussed on local ingredients and seasonality. Aman Kyoto’s Executive Pastry Chef Hiroyuki Matsuo leads the sweet offering — exquisitely-crafted delicacies perfect for an afternoon tea by the fireside lounges amongst the pristine nature. Originally from Osaka, chef Matsuo’s world-class creations are edible art reflecting his immense talent — furthermore recognised in his Osaka Governor’s Award. Guests can enjoy chef Matsuo’s exclusive Matcha Rusk — made with dough rolled with fragrant Kyoto matcha green tea powder, brushed with yuzu-infused sugar butter, baked, and finished with a coating of rich, matcha chocolate. With a glass of sparkling sake, together it is simply divine.

Mineral Hot Spring, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman

Guest rooms are modest in design, featuring muted organic tones of cream that provide an internal respite. Light filters through during mornings and afternoons creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Whilst guest rooms feature an impressive large hinoki cypress wood bath, an onsen natural hot spring bathhouse found a short stroll away from guest rooms also offers spa treatments.

Guest room, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman
Washigamine Pavilion, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman
Guest room bathroom, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman
Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, Aman Kyoto's buildings nestled perfectly within nature | Photo: Champ Creative

The unique site was previously owned by the Asano family, a multi-generational textile company whose founder maintained the extraordinary gardens for roughly half a century in the hopes of creating a museum to display their obi kimono sashes and textile collections whilst setting the foundation for a one-of-a-kind natural landscape — prior to being acquired eventually by Aman. The garden is meticulously maintained and groomed daily by a handful of groundskeepers — one being Tsukamoto-san, who has been maintaining the extraordinary site for over thirty years. During winter, the grounds’ stunning green moss turns a vivid emerald, whilst on summer nights, guests can witness fireflies glistening in the evening light, a practice known in Japan as hotaru-gari.

While it is completely possible to remain entirely on the expansive sight, the hotel also offers guests electric bicycles to explore the surrounding neighbourhood. Nearby also within walking distance, find the beloved Kinkaku-ji Temple, famed for its gold exterior and exquisite gardens.

The exquisite stone work found on Aman Kyoto's private, expansive gardens | Photo: Champ Creative
Tsukamoto-san, one of Aman Kyoto's long-term gardeners maintaining the private site | Photo: Champ Creative
At Aman Kyoto, Japan's 72-micro seasons are a delight to witness throughout the year | Photo: Champ Creative
Taka-An restaurant, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman

Aman Kyoto’s cuisine finds on-site restaurants present seasonal dining led by close relationships with local farmers and producers — sourcing organic rice from the Tango region, vegetables from Kamigamo and free range eggs from Ohara, a small farming hamlet in central north Kyoto.

The hotel’s traditional kaiseki restaurant Taka-an is arguably one of Japan’s best dining experiences. Located in a stand-alone charred-cedar building within a modest and sophisticated interior, Taka-An features black floor tiles complementing a dramatic, about ten-metre African cherry tree counter paired with elegant, Cassina timber chairs. With table dining and counter seats, guests have direct communication with chefs where they can witness their dishes prepared before them. Taka-An Executive Chef Shinichirō Takagi lead an extraordinary course menu with an array of colours, textures and seasonal ingredients all forming the art of kaiseki.

Executive Chef Takagi’s unique menu is truly driven by the excellence of Japan’s seasonal produce and their top producers. From tougan winter melon, Hirai beef, Hokkaido botan ebi, to and to our surprise, excellent caviar from a newly-established producer in Japan’s Setouchi region known for its pristine nature and plentiful islands. Opting for locally-grown rice, Taka-An’s dishes showcase Hinohikari rice from Kyoto — a rounded and thick, small grain perfect for kaiseki dishes.

If there was a way to name the ultimate nature-led luxury resort, Aman Kyotowould be the top contender. From its sophisticated design, unmatched pristine natural landscape, nuanced atmosphere crafted in its exceptional design, attentive staff and stellar dining — Aman Kyoto is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience.

Japanese breakfast, The Living Pavilion, Aman Kyoto, Japan | Photo: Courtesy Aman

AMAN Kyoto
1 Okitayama Washimine-cho
Kita-ku, 603-8481
Kyoto, Japan

Text: Editor-in-Chief Joanna Kawecki
Images: As credited, Aman Group & Champ Magazine©

For more unique Kyoto destinations, click here.

February, 2024