Unlocking the secrets of Japan’s ancient Imperial capital, Aman Kyoto and its secret garden are just a stone’s throw from the city’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, yet feel a world away.
Aman Kyoto is situated in a once-forgotten secret garden that provides a secluded retreat moments from the centre of beguiling Kyoto. Hidden at the foot of the symbolic Mountain of Hidari Daimonji in Kyoto’s north, the resort is nestled in forested grounds in the district of Takagamine, within walking distance of the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-ji Temple.
The 80-acre Aman Kyoto site comprises 72 acres of permanent forest and eight acres of exquisite gardens lovingly tended over many decades by the previous owner of the site, who was one of Japan’s most respected collectors of the obi (the ornamental sash for a traditional Japanese kimono). His unrealised aim was to house his collection in a textile museum to be built within the garden. Aman is honoured to be the garden’s next custodian, giving it a fresh lease of life and protecting its fragile grounds for decades to come.
Exemplary in its simplicity, the resort is an architectural masterpiece brought into being by Kerry Hill Architects, who designed both Aman Tokyo and Amanemu. Consisting of a series of standalone pavilions, each with a distinct function, Aman Kyoto includes separate Arrival, Living, Dining and Spa Pavilions, four Guest Pavilions housing 24 guest rooms offering leafy seclusion with garden-or-stream views, and two separate Pavilions overlooking the forest canopy housing a pair of two-bedroom villas of unparalleled luxury.
The intimate scale of the pavilions, with their considered detailing and careful placement within the garden, respects, on one hand the simplicity and appropriateness of traditional Japanese architecture, while on the other allows these contemporary buildings to exist and breathe with the landscape. Calm is always evident; a guest here is free to wander, contemplate and explore.