The promotion is inspired by the fact that Kyoto is one of Japan’s premier sake-brewing districts; and offers guests the opportunity to experience the sake of Fushimi, Kyoto. It includes a welcome sake drink on arrival and a chance to enjoy a sake-infused bath available in guestrooms for those who want to enjoy the benefits of sake while soaking in the tub. Underground water sourced from deep in Kyoto Basin is used in the baths in SOWAKA’s guestrooms. Added to this local water, which is incredibly soft and silky to the touch, is a generous amount of Japanese sake, which is said to warm the body and help it retain heat.
SOWAKA is a boutique, 23-room hotel located in the Gion district of the ancient capital of Kyoto, a place where Japan’s distinctive history and traditions are deeply rooted. The 11 guestrooms of the Main Building are the product of a large-scale renovation of a Sukiya-style building that boasts 100 years of history as a premier Japanese-style restaurant, while the 12-room Annex is newly built with a modern Japanese design. SOWAKA is a new type of accommodation that offers all the relaxed luxury of a hotel infused with a uniquely Japanese atmosphere where guests can experience authentic Japanese hospitality. The hotel is centrally located in Kyoto’s famous geisha district, Gion, known for its Buddhist temples, lush gardens, ancient shrines and picturesque cobbled alleys – a place where geisha glide effortlessly through the streets and history is embedded in the city’s very foundations. The hotel is ideally located just steps from the bustling Yasaka Shrine and minutes from some of the city’s most famous landmarks and heritage sites. The entire hotel had its soft opening on Monday, March 25, 2019 including the new Annex and a restaurant, and was officially internationally launched in November 2019.
Because SOWAKA aims to provide guests with a genuine Kyoto experience, the hotel selects fixtures and amenities made in Kyoto. The guestrooms themselves feature locally-sourced items wherever possible, including luxury natural fiber mattresses by Iwata in Kyoto, speakers made from local Kitayama cedar by Kyoto Natural Factory, and bath amenities by longstanding Kyoto purveyors Kazurasei.
Exclusive customised guest experiences such as the sake promotion are at the heart of any stay at Sowaka. During Japan’s famous cherry blossom festival and the equally dramatic autumn foliage season, guests can enjoy a private after-hours tour of Kodai-ji Temple, special sunrise or sunset tours of Kiyomizu-dera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a bespoke guided tour of the gardens of Nanzenji, Murinan and Chishakuin. These special opportunities give visitors the kind of exclusive private view into Kyoto’s past and present that make a trip unforgettable.
Sowaka’s innovative restaurant, La Bombance, offers impeccable, original dishes that fuse traditional Japanese cuisine with creative modern flair. La Bombance is overseen by the team behind the Tokyo establishment of the same name, which has received a Michelin star for 10 consecutive years.
The hotel also features an intimate private bar, a well-equipped lounge, a delightful Japanese garden where the splendour of Kyoto’s remarkable seasons is on full display, and a rooftop balcony boasting wonderful views of Higashiyama. Discreet staff dressed in modern style kimonos move quietly through the corridors. “Sowaka” is a Sanskrit word meaning happiness or wellbeing, and is found in the ancient Buddhist sutras that echo through Kyoto’s many temples. Like the word itself, Sowaka has its roots in history, infusing the authentic hospitality of a traditional ryokan with a modern sense of luxury to create a truly exceptional experience.