CHEN YI-AN (35)
Work: A Day in Khaki
Hometown: Pingtung, Taiwan
Taiwanese entrepreneur Chen Yi-An has made Kyoto feel like home – and lets visitors to her charming guesthouse, A Day in Khaki, get in on the experience too.
Chen Yi-An remembers falling for Kyoto in 2016. An entrepreneur from Taiwan, Chen had visited Japan’s ancient capital before – but it was her stay in a traditional wooden machiya townhouse that inspired her to study Japanese, move to Kyoto on a more permanent basis and establish her business there.
With the help of local architect Masaharu Tada and designer Shojiro Endo, Chen decided to renovate a 120-year-old machiya near Nijo Castle. She opened the two-storey former kimono shop and residence in October 2017 as a one-group-per-night guesthouse called A Day in Khaki. It’s a cosy place, with tatami mats and a small garden with cedar, kangaroo vine and an old camellia tree. Chen has adapted well to her Kyoto lifestyle. She rises early every morning for a run around the Kyoto Imperial Palace and rides her bicycle to explore the city’s old kissaten coffee houses and temples. She has discovered that the cost of living is not as high as she had expected.
This past summer, when a powerful typhoon damaged the clay roof tiles of her guesthouse, she had plenty of help with repairs from the carpenters who had done the renovation work. “Kyoto people are very hard-working but the lifestyle is slow, which is a great fit for me,” she says.