My first time travelling in Japan was just over five years ago. We travelled for a month and I tried to see as much as I could. We stayed in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kamakura and had booked to stay in Hakuba. We also stayed in Kyoto. For only four short days. We had loved Tokyo, but were not as keen on Osaka, and looked forward to staying in Kyoto. I have no idea why, but I knew before we went there that it was going to be exceptional and I had a feeling something special was going to happen.
I had come across Guesthouse Soi while booking my trip and I completely rearranged my itinerary after reading the reviews. People had talked about how lovely the owners were and I knew from several reviews that they had daughters similar in age to Mya. I just had a sense that this place was going to be fun and my feeling was amplified on the train ride from Osaka to Kyoto.
The first photos of our room kind of say it all. We felt like we had found an oasis of comfort and the guesthouse is seriously stylish in an understated Japanese way. I met Maki-san, the owner of the guesthouse, and she was friendly, helpful and a wonderful host. Mya firstly met her daughter Senki, they were both 9 years old at the time. Sen-chan spoke zero English and Mya zero Japanese, but it did not matter even slightly. They played Wii and badminton and laughed and ran around. Mya then met Lancy, Maki’s older daughter, who spoke English very well and the three girls were very happy together. Over our four days in Kyoto, a lovely friendship was born, both between the girls, and also between Maki-san and I. It was an emotional farewell, and we promised to return. After leaving I was so keen to return, we changed our itinerary and headed back to Kyoto on a day trip from Tokyo (five hours on the Shinkansen). While in Tokyo Maki sent me one of the most beautiful messages I have ever received. I knew our friendship would be life-long.
We returned again in December, and spent Christmas and New Year at Guesthouse Soi. The girls had been writing to each other, and we had kept in contact. Senki’s English had taken a massive leap and the girls spent every waking hour together. We visited Maki’s hometown of Kochi and stayed with her mother. We made mochi for the New Year. We returned to Kyoto and rang the bell on New Year’s Eve. Mya spent a lot of evenings eating Maki’s husband, Sim’s incredible cooking. She loves food and had found a new cuisine to explore. I set my intention to return to Kyoto and to Guesthouse Soi.
Before I had an opportunity to return, Maki and the girls visited Australia. Maki was only here for a few short days, and we caught up for dinner, but the girls stayed on for a week with us. We had so much fun, and by this time Super Sake Boy and I were seeing each other and Abby, my step-daughter, met with the girls several times. The friendship circle increased. Our girls couldn’t wait to get back to Kyoto.
Our first time travelling all together as a family saw us staying at Guesthouse Soi for two weeks. The girls spent a lot of time together. They had been keeping up with the writing and messaging and were feeling very comfortable with each other. I absolutely love that they have this friendship.
The next visit was just Super Sake Boy and I. We spent time with Maki, drinking sake and chatting, we went for dinner with she and Sim and she organised tickets for me to see a festival I wanted to go to. This trip was fleeting, but we planned to be back soon after.
The following trip we took my mum and step-dad to Kyoto to stay at Guesthouse Soi. My mum and step-dad fell in love with Maki, as I knew they would. They fell into the comfortable routine at Maki’s, enjoying the downtime as much as the sight seeing. The girls were, once again, very happy to see each other. Mya and Senki are so cute and funny when they are together. They have a very cute way of communicating. Abby and Lancy are a little more reserved, initially, but they all enjoy each others company and the barriers come down pretty quickly. My friendship with Maki is one of my very favourite and most special things that has come from travelling in Japan.
Super Sake Boy and I were meant to be going to Japan next week. We would have been in Kyoto the week after, staying at Maki’s and enjoying catching up with her, Sim and the girls. I am so deeply disappointed that we can not go. I understand that COVID19 has affected so many people in so many terrible ways. I hope that the virus is overcome, by science or by time. I look forward to a time in the future when I will be able to go to Kyoto again, and stay at Guesthouse Soi, my home away from home. My heart will ache for it until such time.
You can find Guesthouse Soi’s new website at this link.
I couldn’t recommend the guesthouse highly enough. If you have an opportunity to travel to Kyoto in the future you should definitely check it out. I have many friends that were very happy with my recommendation. All of my previous blogs about the guesthouse can be found under the Kyoto category on my page.