I am overwhelmed by the placed listed in travel books and the web and was wondering if any of you had suggestions on where to stay in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagasaki. I will be going over there in late spring to interview the Japanese garden designer from a local garden in St. Paul. I am currently, a graduate student so five star hotels are out of my budget, but would like any tips and tid bits for travel that you can offer. Feel free to e-mail me directly with suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!
Last fall we stayed at Hiraiwa Ryokan in Kyoto and found it clean and affordable. The Annex is actually cleaner and better soundproofed than the main building and they are within sight of each other. Very conveniently located (once you get there and see where you are --- it's in a funny little back alleyway) and in a super quiet neighborhood. There are two public bath houses within easy walking distance, and Hiraiwa has a nice little Japanese bath room in each building. It's listed in Lonely Planet and Rough Guide. Instead of having breakfast in the claustrophobic breakfast room you can ask at the front desk for directions to a nearby coffeehouse called "Kano" where you can get a great morning set (coffee, toast, egg, salad) for 600 yen.
Don't know about places to stay in Nagoya or Tokyo.
The Tani house ryokan in Kyoto was a wonderful place. I believe it was next to Daitoku-Ji (spelling?) temple complex. Mrs. Tani is a sweet, warmhearted host always hard at work to make sure the tea is hot and the 'Casa-Blanca" lillies are fresh.
Contact the International center of each destination and tell them what you are looking for.
I stayed at the Tama Ryoken in Tokyo last time I was there.
Good location, but down a side street so pretty quiet.
Nice old traditional building. Helpful host.
Basically, a good find all around. Well worth a look.