Sawabun Hotel, Kyoto, c. 1920.

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“[Kyoto] is well equipped with hotels. A city of temples where thousands of worshippers gather from all over the country, there are numerous Japanese inns, some of which have excellent appointments. Nakamuraro, at Gion on the slope of Higashiyama, is semi-foreign. Tawaraya, Hiragiya and Sawabun, all in Fuya-cho [not far from Heian Shrine], have excellent accommodations.”

Official Catalog issued by the Kyoto Commercial Museum, 1910

Sawabun Hotel, Kyoto, c. 1920. Sawabun can be translated to “mountain stream story”.


“[Kyoto, Japan] Dear Bill: I had my first genuine Japanese dinner last night and I’ll try to describe it. The ricksha landed me at the Sawabun Inn at 6 o’clock. My friend met me clad in native kimono. I took off my shoes, put on sandals and entered the house. The furniture consisted of two pillows on the mats, an arm rest, a stool, smoking outfit and electric fan. I was given a kimono and told to get into it, which was a thrilling operation because of the waitresses running in and out carrying cool drinks.

“We had individual tables and the girls started the dinner by fetching ‘sake’. It is described as tasting like sherry which has been kept in a beer bottle. It is served warm and is far from bad.

“Next came ‘miso’, a soup. This was followed by ‘yakizakana’, fish with sauce, which I ate with chop sticks after a fashion. ‘Sashimi’ came next. This is raw fish and it tastes better than it sounds. ‘Waumori’, or boiled fish, followed this. ‘Chawau mushi'” another fish, came next, followed by four vegetable courses. The feast ended, we washed out our mouths with water served in a lacquered bowl.”

Tacoma Times, October 2, 1911

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