Kyoto Xiaoman

Type: Renovation
Use: Gallery and tea salon
Location: Kyoto City
Completion: December 2017
Cooperation: Atelier Salt (Yoji Fujiwara)
Photo: Junichi Usui

Kyoto Xiaoman is a Taiwanese tea salon and gallery built by renovating a machiya, or Japanese traditional townhouse built near Kyoto Goen more than 80 years ago.
The owner’s request was to create a simple, delicate space where salon visitors can find scenes and backgrounds of Taiwanese teas.
Just as she weaves background stories and origins of teas while serving them, she desired a place where visitors can not merely enjoy drinking tea but also explore the world of tea—taste and smell, mountains and forests, lively alpine animals and plants, and lives of harvesters and their history.
Given such request, we sought a balance between the desired space and the potential of the existing building.
In realizing a space encouraging the visitors to feel tea leaves grown in the bosom of nature, we selected materials which would show different faces in ever-changing time, weather and seasons, and develop flavors as they age. We have also taken note of the scales and details to maximize their fine qualities.
With due respect to the way machiya ought to be and its scale, we have then added functions for the gallery and the Taiwanese tea salon and surrounded the space by plastering, using natural materials including mud walls and Kyoto Kurotani Washi (traditional Japanese paper) which change over time.
Furnishing the opening with Shoji door to suit any occasion, time period and weather conditions, the lighting plans have been designed to harmonize with the use of space and the reflection of light coming in from the opening.
This place will be a new cultural center where Japanese culture wafting from this traditional building of machiya and the owner’s concept of Taiwanese tea culture blend together.

*Lightweight sliding wooden doors covered with Japanese traditional paper which allows light to pass through