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In Praise of Shadows: A Stay at Maana Homes, Kyoto 

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Japan is arguably behind the times when it comes to boutique accommodation options, and so when Maana Kamo was shortlisted for a Dezeen Design Award in late 2020 I knew I had to get in on the action and see how it lived up to its reputation.

The idea of Kyoto being a modern city might sound strange to some, but each time I visit I am fascinated by the seamless blend of old and new. Century old buildings sit quietly next to contemporary specialty coffee shops, and beneath the surface of the ancient temples and geisha-famed streets is a pioneering food scene, modern architecture and design-driven hospitality.

One of those examples is Maana Kamo, taking its name from Kyoto’s central river that it sits alongside. Designed by Japanese architect Uoya Shigenori, the design philosophy is centred around preserving and highlighting the home’s imperfectly aged beauty. The space aims to defy conventional notions of luxury, creating a quiet space for contemplation through the use of restored materials and the mysterious darkness of shadows.





In the 1933 book In Praise of Shadows, author Junichiro Tanizaki writes, “We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates… Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”

This is evident from start to finish at Maana Kamo. The Japanese minimalist aesthetic celebrates the imperfections of the building’s original structure. Exposed dark wood and tatami mat floors are combined with rich clay fixtures and ceramics with a heavy dose of wabi sabi. The relationship between past and present is exactly what you would expect from a property of its kind.


“We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates… Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”



Upon entrance there is a large kitchen with island and dining space, equipped with all the essentials including ceramic tea sets and tableware. The main area is an open plan living space which leads towards an over-sized onsen-style bathtub. Beyond the tub is a Japanese zen garden, all enclosed within the discreet bounds of the home.

Upstairs consists of a main bedroom and a second space with a tatami floor that can be used as another bedroom or a yoga/meditation space. Thankfully upstairs also has double glazing, much welcomed as I visited in mid-January. Additional services are on offer including dinner delivery from local seafood restaurant, Ototojet, as well as in-room massages, and taxi services should you need them.







If you are looking for a retreat free of clutter, and a space to slow down and relax during your next stay in Kyoto, then Maana Homes is certainly worth adding to your list. Switch off the lights and embrace the shadows to sooth your mind, body and soul.

Getting Around
Maana Kamo is located along the main road of the Kamo River, and is easily accessed by bus from the main Kyoto Station. Less than a 10 minute taxi ride or if you don’t have excess luggage, a 20 minute walk. Once checked in, you are in close walking distance of Kyoto’s main culture spots including Gion and Higashiyama.
Local Highlights
Eat & Drink

%Arabica Higashiyama
Kokaido Coffee
Wife & Husband Coffee
Dig the Line Craft Beer Weekenders Coffee
Monk Pizza

Shrines, Temples & Gardens
Kyoto Garden of Fine Arts
Yasaka Shrine & Pagoda
Kennenji Temple
Nishiki Market
Fushimi Inari Taisha

Shop
Wakabaya Ceramics
Beams Japan
Ichizawa Shinzaburo
Kitone Woodwork
Aritsugu Knives


Find out more via maanahomes.com
Photography by Ben Richards







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