Sign in for a personalized experience.
Japan Guide Homepage
Travel
Living
Forum
Restaurants
Shopping
Jobs
Friends
News
-
Essentials
-
Sightseeing
-
Accommodation
-
Transportation
-
Restaurants
-
Shopping
-
Budget Travel
-
Questions

Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Kyoto
Kyoto Food Guide

jump to:   hotels  -  tours

Restaurants along Pontocho Street

As Japan's former capital and seat of the imperial court for over a thousand years, Kyoto offers a rich culinary tradition. The local food culture is diverse and ranges from aristocratic kaiseki ryori course dinners to the vegetarian shojin ryori of monks and the simple obanzai ryori home style cooking.

While some restaurants look to the past for inspiration, others experiment with new flavors. Fusion restaurants, that combine ingredients and techniques of Kyoto cuisine with cooking styles from other parts of the world, can also be found in the city. The Pontocho nightlife district is one of the best places to find good fusion restaurants alongside traditional establishments. Not far away, the Gion district also offers a wide range of interesting dining opportunities, as does the Kyoto Station area.

Regular Japanese food that is not necessarily associated with Kyoto in particular, such as ramen, sushi and udon, is also available across the city. Food fans should not miss a visit to the Nishiki Market in central Kyoto, which has been serving the city for many centuries.

Local ladies wash freshly harvested Kyoto vegetables

Kaiseki Ryori

Kaiseki ryori has its origin in the traditional tea ceremony, but later evolved into an elaborate dining style popular among aristocratic circles. Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (kyo kaiseki) is particularly refined, placing an emphasis on subtle flavors and local and seasonal ingredients. A kaiseki meal has a prescribed order of courses which is determined by the cooking method of each dish.

A common way for travelers to enjoy kaiseki is by staying at a ryokan where a kaiseki dinner is included with the stay. But kaiseki meals can also be enjoyed at restaurants, including high end ryotei, many of which can be found in the Pontocho and Gion districts of Kyoto. A good kaiseki meal usually costs around 10,000 yen per person, but prices can go as high as 30,000 yen or as low as 6000 yen. Some restaurants depart from tradition and include elements of foreign cuisines.

One dish at a kyo kaiseki dinner

Shojin Ryori

Whereas kaiseki developed out of the affluence of the aristocrats, shojin ryori developed from the austerity of Buddhist monks. Prohibited from taking the life of other living creatures, Buddhist monks had to make do without meat or fish in their diet. Consisting of strictly vegetarian dishes, shojin ryori can nonetheless be savory and filling. Travelers who spend the night at a temple lodging will be able to enjoy a meal as part of the stay.

A common ingredient in shojin ryori is tofu, which is a local specialty of Kyoto. The preparation of tofu is so common that it can also be referred to as Tofu Ryori ("tofu cuisine"). One popular dish that is widely served at restaurants is Yudofu, soft tofu simmered with vegetables in broth. A meal of Yudofu usually costs 1500 to 2000 yen, but the price can be higher or lower depending on the quality of the restaurant. The Nanzenji and Arashiyama districts are particularly famous for tofu cuisine.

A pot of Yudofu

Obanzai Ryori

Obanzai Ryori is the traditional home style cooking of Kyoto. It is made up of multiple small dishes that are usually quite simple to prepare. Local produce that is in season is best suited for the dishes. Although the cooking methods are usually not complicated, obanzai dishes can be made very rich by chefs skillfully bringing out the natural flavors of the ingredients.

Restaurants that serve obanzai ryori can be found all over Kyoto. Many of them have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that reflects the home style of cooking. A full meal usually costs 2000 to 3000 yen, but can vary depending on the number and type of dishes ordered.

A meal of Obanzai Ryori

Kawayuka/Kawadoko

Kawayuka, or Kawadoko as it is known outside of central Kyoto, is the summer pasttime of dining outdoors on temporary platforms built over flowing water. Developed as a way to beat the summer heat, kawayuka is a great way to experience one of the traditional Kyoto cuisines listed above while taking in the cooling effects of the flowing water and lively summer atmosphere.

The most famous area to experience kawayuka is along the Kamogawa River in central Kyoto, especially around Pontocho. From May to September, restaurants here construct temporary wooden decks over the canal on the river's west bank. Many places serve kaiseki meals, however other types of cuisine are also available.

Kibune and Takao in the forested mountains just north of central Kyoto, are also popular places to try kawayuka, although here it is called kawadoko. In Kibune especially, the platforms are built just centimeters above the river and provide almost complete relief from the summer heat.

Terrace dining is popular, especially along Kamogawa River in the evenings on weekends and during holidays, when advance reservations are a must at most river facing restaurants along Pontocho (usually in Japanese by phone). A small number of restaurants can be reserved online in English through Japanican.

Kawadoko in Kibune

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

Advertisement

Hotels and Ryokan
Kyoto offers a wide range of accommodation for all budgets and tastes, including historic ryokan, Western style hotels and low-budget hostels. Among the most attractive districts to stay are the Kyoto Station area, the city center around Shijo Street and the Higashiyama District.
Search Hotels
Sponsor Hotels
Arashiyama Hanaikada
A little, superior ryokan right near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Free transfer at JR station. Private onsen bath.
Backpackers Hostel K's House Kyoto
Voted No.1 hostel chain worldwide for 2010&2011 by Hostelworld.com customers. 9 min. walk from JR Kyoto Station. Beds from 2,300 yen.
Gion Hatanaka
A real Japanese inn in a quiet area of Gion, famous for Geisha. 15min walk to Kiyomizu-dera. 5min to Yasaka-jinja.
Ryokan Saka-no-ue
Traditional, cozy ryokan with 12 rooms. Japanese cottage style houses available. Located near Yasaka Shrine and Gion.
Ryokan Hirashin
3min walk to Shijo Karasuma Sta. Spacious Japanese-style rooms. 140 years of history. Public baths renovated in 2006.
Japanese hotel, Ryokan Nishiyama
Experience the real Japan at our affordable ryokan. Close to major tourist spots in Kyoto.
Ryokan Motonago
A real traditional inn at Gion with 11 rooms, friendly staff. Walking distance of Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka-jinja and more.
Ryokan Wakamiya
Inexpensive, cozy inn with helpful staff. 7 min walk from JR Kyoto Sta. Free Internet PC. Communal baths on top floor.
Recommended Hotels around Kyoto - with lowest rates by selected hotel reservation websites
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking

Tours and Packages
Kyoto Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Kyoto and surroundings.
JR Tokai Tours
Your Shinkansen and hotel package professional. Fantastic Kyoto tours from Tokyo at excellent prices!

User Feedback
We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

Online Reservations
Hotel
 
Car
 
Flight
 
Bus

(check-in)

Related Pages

Most Recent Autumn Color Report
October 21
Bandai
more reports...

News and Reports
April 15, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by raina
April 11, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by sean
April 8, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by sean
April 6, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by raina
April 3, 2014
Uji Cherry Blossom Report
by schauwecker
April 3, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by raina
April 1, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by sean
March 29, 2014
Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
by scott
More reports...

Related Questions
Breakfast place around Kyoto Station
 10 reactions, last updated 29 hours ago
Illumination at Shorenin Temple in Oct...
 2 reactions, last updated 34 hours ago
What is open in Kyoto on Dec 29 - Jan...
 1 reaction, last updated 39 hours ago
Eikando bus stop in Higashiyama stat
 0 reactions, last updated 3 days ago
Ryoan-ji Question
 4 reactions, last updated 4 days ago
Sagano Scenic Railway open on Wednesday?
 8 reactions, last updated 10 days ago
Is there anyHanatoro in Kyoto 5-15.11?
 0 reactions, last updated 10 days ago
Travelling via Nozomi Shinkansen with...
 2 reactions, last updated 17 days ago
Is the monkey park in Kyoto worth it?
 3 reactions, last updated 19 days ago
Bamboo Groves entrances Arashiyama
 11 reactions, last updated 19 days ago
Moss Temple in Arashiyama, worth it?
 6 reactions, last updated 19 days ago
Trafica miyako card
 2 reactions, last updated 21 days ago
Sagano Scenic Railway
 2 reactions, last updated 24 days ago
Elderly visit to Kiyomizu-Dera
 4 reactions, last updated 25 days ago
Guide for practical cuisine tour Kyoto
 0 reactions, last updated 25 days ago
Bus route for Ginkakuji, Shinnyodo,...
 3 reactions, last updated 32 days ago
Bicycle Rental JR Saga-Arashiyama
 1 reaction, last updated 32 days ago
Autumn foliage this year in Kyoto
 1 reaction, last updated 34 days ago
Arashiyama Romantic Train and Boat in...
 0 reactions, last updated 37 days ago
Ginkaku-ji and Philosopher's path
 1 reaction, last updated 39 days ago

Travel
Living
Japan A-Z
Community
Sightseeing
Accommodation
Transportation
Shopping
Essentials
Regions
Prefectures
Cities
Working
Studying
Living Cost
Apartments
Arts and Crafts
Entertainment
History
Religion
Etiquette
Food
Language
Tradition
Question Forum
Classifieds
Trip Reports
Member Area
Sightseeing Guide
Hokkaido
Sapporo
Otaru
Hakodate
Noboribetsu
Niseko
Furano
Daisetsuzan
Shiretoko
more...
Tohoku
Sendai
Matsushima
Hiraizumi
Hachimantai
Hirosaki
Lake Towada
Dewa Sanzan
Aizu
more...
Kanto
Tokyo
Yokohama
Kamakura
Hakone
Nikko
Kawagoe
Kusatsu
Narita
more...
Chubu
Nagoya
Mount Fuji
Izu Peninsula
Matsumoto
Kiso Valley
Takayama
Shirakawa-go
Kanazawa
more...
Kansai
Kyoto
Osaka
Nara
Kobe
Himeji
Mount Koya
Kumano
Ise Shima
more...
Chugoku
Hiroshima
Miyajima
Okayama
Kurashiki
Tottori
Matsue
Iwakuni
Hagi
more...
Shikoku
Takamatsu
Kotohira
Naoshima
Matsuyama
Kochi
Tokushima
Naruto
Iya Valley
more...
Kyushu
Fukuoka
Nagasaki
Kumamoto
Mount Aso
Beppu
Kagoshima
Kirishima
Yakushima
more...
Okinawa
Honto
Kume
Miyako
Yaeyama
Copyright © 1996-2014 japan-guide.com All rights reserved - Last Page Update: February 7, 2014
home - site map - privacy policy - terms of use - contact - employment - Lɂ‚ - advertising