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Gion Hatanaka Ryokan, Kyoto, Japan

Right on the edge of Gion, the Hatanaka is on a quiet street close to Kiyomizu Temple and next to Yasaka Shrine. The complex is spread over the wooded hillside, making it a peaceful retreat from the frenetic downtown area. Very much a combination of old and new, the ryokan is an elegant mix of traditional Japanese hospitality set in a modern idyll of beauty. There are 17 rooms in total, with 5 traditional-style cottage rooms (for larger groups) in the small garden and the remaining 12 rooms are in the main building. There is a wonderful bathing 'onsen' wooden bath facility as part of the compound. This is a sophisticated establishment, hallmarked by exclusivity and superb service. Meals are served in your room and you sleep on futons laid out on the tatami mats. Mr Tanaka took over this family-run property from his father in 2006 and is immensely proud of his inn.

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