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Kyoto Travel Guide

About Kyoto

Kyoto, a city steeped in history and tradition, beckons travelers with its timeless beauty. Nestled in the Kansai region, Kyoto boasts a rich history and culture that dates back over a thousand years. As Japan’s former capital for over a millennium, the city boasts over 2,000 temples and shrines, each whispering tales of emperors, geishas, and spiritual devotion. The awe-inspiring temples and shrines exude a timeless elegance to the lively shopping districts brimming with fascinating finds.

Kyoto’s essence lies not only in its landmarks but also in its quiet moments—the rustle of leaves, the scent of incense, and the echo of ancient prayers. So, as you explore this mesmerizing city, remember Gustave Flaubert’s words: “Travel makes one modest; you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

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Kyoto, Japan
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Best Time To visit

If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto, the best time to visit is during spring and autumn, when the city is bathed in stunning natural colors. In spring, the cherry blossoms bloom, filling the city with a pink haze of delicate flowers, while Kyoto, in fall, sees the leaves of the maple trees turn vivid shades of red, orange, and gold. During this time, the temperatures are mild, ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 25°C (77°F), making it perfect for outdoor exploration. Summers in Kyoto can be hot and humid, with temperatures averaging around 30°C (86°F), but don’t let that deter you from vi…..siting. 

With its countless temples and shrines, Kyoto is the perfect place to find respite from the heat and connect with the city’s rich cultural heritage. Winters can be chilly, with temperatures averaging around 5°C (41°F), but the city takes on a magical quality with snow-covered rooftops and cozy warm sake to keep you warm. So whether you’re seeking cherry blossoms or autumnal hues, Kyoto is a truly magnificent city no matter what the season.

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What to expect

Arriving in Kyoto is like stepping into an enduring mosaic where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with modern life. As you walk the streets, you will notice the subtle fragrance of incense hanging in the air, inviting you to explore hidden temples and serene gardens. The cobblestone streets lead you past wooden machiya houses, their latticed windows revealing glimpses of tea ceremonies and kimono-clad geishas. Wander through the bamboo groves of Arashiyama or the verdant hills of Fushimi Inari. Kyoto whispers its secrets through zen gardens, torii gates, and the echo of temple bells. It’s a city that beckons you to slow down, savor each moment, and immerse yourself in its timeless beauty. 

The city is home to a health-conscious community, and you’ll find numerous restaurants and cafes serving delicious, nourishing meals made from locally sourced, organic ingredients. Try the plant-based menu at Veg Out or indulge in the creative cuisine at Premarché Alternative Diner, both of which are committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing. And if you’re looking for a place to stay that prioritizes sustainability and wellness, check out the . . . .

luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto or the eco-friendly Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto.

Of course, a trip to Kyoto would not be complete without experiencing the city’s many cultural treasures. Hike up to the stunning Golden Temple, offering glimpses into the city’s rich history and traditions. And don’t miss the chance to explore Gion, the famous Geisha district, where you can catch a glimpse of the intricate art of the Geisha performance. For a bit of modern culture, head to the Fashion Museum to admire the stunning creations of Kyoto’s top designers.

But perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in the spirit of Kyoto is to wander through the city’s bustling streets, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds around you. 

As you explore Kyoto, take comfort knowing you’re supporting a city that values sustainability and wellness. From its commitment to ethical sourcing to its many green spaces and eco-friendly accommodations, Kyoto is a city that’s committed to making the world a better place. So come explore this magical destination and discover the many wonders that await you in the cultural heart of Japan.

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Things to know

When visiting Kyoto, there are some essential things to know to make your trip a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Language: While Japanese is the official language, you can get by with English, especially in tourist areas.
  • Time zone: Japan Standard Time (JST) is 9 hours ahead of GMT.
  • Currency: The Japanese yen (JPY) is the official currency. Cash is widely used, and credit cards are accepted in most places.
  • Plugs + Voltage: The standard voltage is 100 volts, and the frequency is 50/60 Hz. The power sockets used in Japan are Type A and Type B.
  • Airports: Kyoto does not have an airport. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX), approximately 100 km away.
  • Common sayings: Learning a few Japanese phrases like “Arigato” (thank you) and “Sumimasen” (excuse me) can go a long way.
  • Opening hours: Most shops and restaurants open at 10 am and close around 9 pm. However, some temples and museums may have different opening hours.
  • Safety: Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are low, and it is safe to walk around at night.
  • Emergency Services: In case of an emergency, dial 110 for the police and 119 for an ambulance or fire department.
  • Local customs: Bowing is a common greeting in Japan, and it is customary to remove your shoes when entering a temple or a Japanese-style restaurant.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Japan and can even be seen as insulting.
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how to get around

Kyoto offers many ways to travel around the city, each with advantages. Here are some of the best ways to get around Kyoto with ease:

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Kyoto and can be helpful for shorter trips or when you need to get somewhere quickly. They are generally more than other forms of transportation, but they offer the convenience of taking you directly to your destination.
  • Walking: Kyoto is a pedestrian-friendly city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to experience the city at a slower pace, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Kyoto’s vibrant culture.
  • Subway: Kyoto’s subway system is not as extensive as Tokyo’s, but it is still a fast and efficient way to get around. It is particularly useful for traveling longer distances or avoiding rush hour traffic.
  • Bicycle: Kyoto is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Japan, with dedicated bike lanes and rental stations throughout the city. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it also allows you to explore the city at your own pace while getting some exercise.
  • Bus: Kyoto’s extensive bus network is a convenient way to travel around the city. You can easily reach your destination with various routes and frequent service while enjoying the scenery.

No matter how you choose to get around Kyoto, be sure to take advantage of the city’s eco-friendly and sustainable transportation options. From cycling to walking, plenty of ways exist to explore Kyoto while minimizing your environmental impact.

A Woman in a Kimono Crossing the Street in Kyoto, Japan

Where to stay

570 Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan

Located in the Shimogyo Ward district, just a two-minute walk from Kyoto Station. This sustainable comfort hotel offers 222 air-conditioned rooms, each guestroom is equipped with eco-friendly . . . .

paper water packs instead of plastic bottles and the toiletries are kept to the minimum required to reduce waste. This simple yet effective initiative significantly reduces the use of single-use plastics, contributing to environmental preservation.

In addition to in house practices, have a visit to their spa for a relaxing experience where you can try the dry sauna, hot bath, stone spa, and their meditation room. 

With its commitment to SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), the hotel aims to provide a wonderful and moving experience for visitors, inspired by the wisdom and aesthetic philosophy of Kyoto, the millennial capital.

180-1 Ichinocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8305, Japan

Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto, a luxury boutique hotel a beacon of sustainability in the hospitality industry. The hotel is situated in close proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nijo Castle, . . . .

offering guests an intimate stay in a setting that marries the city’s historic past with its tech-forward present. 

The hotel has taken significant steps towards becoming more sustainable, as evidenced by its BELS (“Building-Housing Energy-efficiency Labeling System”) certification. This certification is a testament to the hotel’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable practices.

Furthermore, in line with its focus on well-being and health promotion, the hotel abolished its smoking area. This move not only promotes a healthier environment for guests but also contributes to improved air quality. The hotel’s commitment to sustainability extends to its culinary offerings as well, with a focus on using the finest Japanese ingredients infused with the essence of well-being. 

Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto’s dedication to sustainability makes it an ideal choice for travelers seeking luxury accommodation that aligns with their values of environmental stewardship and sustainable living.

445-3 Myohoin Maekawacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0932, Japan

Nestled in the well-preserved Higashiyama district, the hotel seamlessly blends traditional elegance with contemporary design, featuring airy guest rooms and suites with stunning garden views. Expansive . . . .

windows flood the spaces with light, while traditional Japanese touches like shoji screens and tatami mats add a touch of authenticity. The hotel’s spa goes beyond pampering, offering holistic treatments like traditional Japanese bath rituals with a natural view to leave you feeling revitalized. The hotel is committed when it comes to sustainability. Renewable energy sources power the hotel, while water conservation efforts and meticulous waste management programs minimize environmental impact. So, if you’re seeking an unforgettable Kyoto experience that celebrates luxury and mindful living, the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto awaits.

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Japan, 〒604-0902 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Hokodencho, 543 KAMOGAWA NIJO-OHASHI HOTORI

The Ritz-Carlton sits gracefully on the banks of the Kamo River. This location allows guests to step out and explore temples, gardens, and the city’s vibrant energy, all within easy walking distance. Stepping . . . .

 inside, you’re met with an elegant blend of modern luxury and traditional Japanese design.

Japan, 〒603-8481 Kyoto, Kita Ward, Okitayamawashiminecho, 1 1 Okitayama Washimine-Cho  

AMAN, Kyoto, is located in the Takagamine district, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Kinkaku-ji Temple and a short drive from 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yet, amidst these cultural treasures, the . . . .

 resort remains secluded, offering a sanctuary of peace amidst towering trees and serene gardens. While staying, immerse yourself in various wellness experiences, from soothing onsen baths fed by mineral-rich waters to guided meditations in the secret garden; their spa treatment products are made with organic ingredients. After relaxation, savor their locally sourced Western dishes at The Living Pavilion, where culinary artistry meets mindful eating.

Aburano-Koji St. Nijo-Sagaru, Nakagyo-Ku, 284 Nijoaburanokojicho, Kyoto, 604-0051, Japan

This 5-star haven, located adjacent to the iconic Nijo Castle, sits on the former grounds of the Kitake family, the executive branch of the Mitsui family, for over 250 years. The hotel’s design embodies . . . .

a minimalist aesthetic, seamlessly blending tradition with modern elegance. The lush gardens, meticulously designed to showcase the changing seasons, offer a tranquil escape, inviting guests to reconnect with nature’s rhythm. During your stay, you can experience their private onsen, where you can bathe in natural hot springs complemented with a garden.

360 Kodaiji Masuyacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan, 605-0826

Nestled amidst the serene Higashiyama district, Park Hyatt Kyoto offers an oasis of tranquility for the eco-conscious traveler. This 5-star haven blends modern elegance with traditional Japanese . . . .

aesthetics, creating a harmonious sanctuary that respects culture and nature. Step inside and be transported to a world of understated luxury. Kyoto’s Zen gardens inspire the design and serve as a meditative haven, offering a space to unwind and reconnect with nature.

44-1 Kinugasa Kagamiishicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8451, Japan

ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts, nestled deep in the rolling mountain foothills of Kyoto, Japan, is a naturally secluded and intimate retreat. This luxurious resort is set within 28 acres . . . .

and is home to idyllic Japanese gardens, historic temples, and tea houses. They offer 5-star accommodations with a sauna and hot spring bath.

406 Nanbacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8027, Japan

This 5-star hotel seamlessly blends the French FAUCHON brand with the iconic cultural elements of Japan. The 59 guest rooms and suites are meticulously designed, combining . . . .

Parisian elegance with Japanese craftsmanship. Shades of pink, white, black, and gold adorn the decor, reflecting FAUCHON’s “Life In Pink” philosophy.

Where to EAT + DRINK

78 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8402, Japan

Cafe Chikoro, located in the quiet residential area of Sakyo Ward in Kyoto, is a hidden gem nestled in the backstreets near the Ginkakuji Temple. This cafe is housed in a century-old. . . .

traditional Japanese house, offering a glimpse into the retro scenery of the early Showa period. The interior features a spacious Japanese-style room where you can enjoy a variety of offerings, including a pork soup set loaded with seasonal vegetables, inari sushi, organic coffee, matcha latte, and cakes. Cafe Chikoro is authentic, warm, inviting, and a place where you can enjoy the flavors of Kyoto, making it a perfect spot for a memorable lunch.

Japan, 〒604-8437 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Nishinokyo Higashinakaaicho, 9 東中合町ビル 1階 

AiNA Organic Kitchen, nestled in the heart of Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, is a natural food cafe bar. Their culinary philosophy revolves around natural, pesticide-free vegetables and additive-free dishes,. . . .

and their cows are hormone-free. From farm to plate, they prioritize the planet, body, and mind. The menu also caters to veggie lovers, with açai bowls and veggie curries. Each meticulously crafted dish is a testament to their commitment to quality. Plus, they offer a variety of organic alcoholic drinks to complement your meal. Whether you’re seeking a wholesome lunch, a dinner course, or a memorable takeaway, step into AiNA and savor the goodness of nature on your plate!

Ace Hotel Kyoto 3F 245-2 Kurumayacho, Nakagyo Ward

Kōsa is a farm-to-table dining experience that celebrates the season’s bounty by Chef Katy Cole. They offer internationally inspired fare, emphasizing the freshness. . . .

and quality of ingredients sourced directly from local farmers and producers in the Kansai region. They also boast an extensive selection of natural wines, craft beers, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages. If you are seeking a serene dining experience, Kōsa awaits your palate at Ace Hotel Kyoto.

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〒604-8155 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Uradeyamacho, 320 小島ビル 2階

Le Nature is a charming dining bar near Kawaramachi, Kiyamachi, and Pontocho. Their philosophy revolves around local sourcing, organic ingredients, and health-conscious cuisine. . . . 

The restaurant’s commitment to the environment extends to using non-GMO produce and additive-free seasonings. 

108-95 Izumojitatemotocho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8134, Japan 

Pettirosso Kyoto is a natural and healthy cafe in the Shimogyo-ku area. Their philosophy centers around using seasonal Japanese vegetables, seaweed, fruits, and seeds to create . . . .

thoughtfully prepared dishes. Pettirosso’s commitment to organic, additive-free cooking ensures a delightful dining experience.

Japan, 〒606-0826 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Shimogamo Nishimotocho, 30 1F

File Natural Food Works, situated in the Shimogamo Nishi Honmachi neighborhood, this cozy establishment offers a delightful blend of natural ingredients and thoughtfully crafted dishes. . . .

As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by an aesthetic interior, complete with Scandinavian chairs and solid wood tables.

The menu boasts dishes made from locally sourced, pesticide-free produce, ensuring a wholesome dining experience. Whether you’re there for a leisurely morning meal, a hearty lunch, or a relaxing dinner, this restaurant is perfect!. With its commitment to sustainability and organic goodness, this cafe is a true gem for conscious foodies in Kyoto.

199 Nibancho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8344, Japan

Itadakizen Kyoto is a vegan Japanese restaurant in the Nishijin District. Housed in a traditional wooden building, it offers an atmospheric dining experience, and most guests are seated at a communal table.  . . .

They are known for their organic and macrobiotic offerings, and they also have beer and wine. The restaurant operates from Thursday to Sunday, with hours between 12:00 pm-3:00 pm and 6:00 pm-9:30 pm.

Japan, 〒600-8022 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Inaricho, 2丁目318-6 1F Good Nature Station

Erutan operates all day at Good Nature Station. The restaurant resonates with the “Good Nature Station” concept, aiming to create a harmonious relationship with nature and. . . .

the local community from the ancient city of Kyoto. The menu at Erutan is centered around vegetables, prepared with simple cooking techniques that highlight the ingredients while respecting Japan’s climate and culture. Some of the dishes offered on the menu are overseen by Chef Yoji Tokuyoshi, the first Japanese chef to win a Michelin star in Milan, Italy. Whether you seek lunch, tea, or dinner, the restaurant is open from 7:00 to 23:00 from Monday to Sunday.

106–2 Shimogamo Miyazakicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-0802, Japan

Organic Veg Annex, located in Kyoto-shi, is a small shop that specializes in selling organic produce and other vegan items. The store offers a good selection of fresh organic produce sourced . . . .

from organic farms. In addition to the fresh produce, the store also sells vegan cookies, some oils, and sauces. The store is open from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturdays 10:30-19:00 Sundays 10:30-17:00.

15 Nishinokyo Sanjobocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8435, Japan

COCO KYOTO specializes in bean-to-bar, from selecting high-quality cacao beans based on origin and quality to their workshop’s chocolate-making process. These chocolates are . . . .

crafted without white sugar or food additives, are gluten-free and organic, and are made with local Kyoto ingredients. COCO KYOTO aims to deliver health benefits and nutrition, making it an ideal treat. They explore the possibilities of chocolate by focusing on cacao’s natural essence and its impact on both body and soul. Plus, they received consecutive accolades at the International Chocolate Awards. Their commitment to quality and flavor has earned them recognition in the competitive world of fine chocolates.

6 71, Jodoji Kamiminamidacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8405, Japan

Juu-go is a Green Michelin restaurant featured in the 2023 MICHELIN Guide Japan. Owner-chef Akiya Ishibashi, a true craftsman, tends to every detail of the soba-making process. . . .

His dedication shines through, from tilling the fields and harvesting the grain to kneading the buckwheat. The restaurant specializes in two soba varieties: Juwari Soba, a pure soba made from 100% buckwheat, and soba mash, which is served with roasted buckwheat grains. Ishibashi’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the kitchen; he aims for zero waste – he composts buckwheat husks and vegetable scraps, and the kombu and katsuobushi used to make the dashi are returned to the soil as nutrients. His passion and dedication to soba are commendable.

The Shinmonzen 235 Shinmonzen-dori, 235 Nishinocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0088, Japan 

Situated on the discreet Shinmonzen-dori street in the Gion district, this restaurant is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking a harmonious blend of French, American, and Asian flavors.  . . .

Jean-Georges presents his world-renowned cuisine with an ever-changing menu. The dishes are exquisitely crafted, emphasizing local ingredients and Kyoto’s micro-seasons. Whether you’re savoring a leisurely lunch or an intimate dinner, the restaurant is open from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, Monday through Sunday.

327-2 Kagiyacho, Karasuma Nishiiri, Kagiyamachi, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8178

Vegan Restaurant F aims to convey the relationship between food and health through its vegetable-centric cuisine. Here, the restaurant offers organic, gluten-free dishes and sweets that are gentle on the body. . . .

They are open from Wednesday to Sunday, with lunch hours from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and dinner from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Dinner courses are exclusively available by reservation. Please reserve your spot by 5:00 pm on the same day to savor their exquisite dinner offerings.

Japan, 〒600-8133 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Inaricho, 448 鴨川ビル 1F 

Veg Out is a vegan cafe nestled near Kyoto Station. Here, patrons can savor wholesome plant-based cuisine while enjoying scenic views of the Kamo River. The cafe’s philosophy promotes . . . .

a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing that beauty starts from within. All dishes at Veg Out are crafted without preservatives or animal products. Their ingredients are sourced organically through natural farming practices. They are open for breakfast from 9 am to 10:30 am and lunch from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm; Closed on Mondays.

Japan, 〒604-8332 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Hashinishicho, 672 2F

Premarché Alternative Diner is a unique dining establishment in the heart of Kyoto. With over 20 years of experience in natural foods distribution and development, . . . .

Premarché sets out to offer honest food. The diner serves various dishes, including burgers, rice bowls, and vegan desserts. They also offer a wide range of drinks, from organic beers and bio wines to natural teas and alternative healthy beverages. They are committed to inclusivity and sustainability. The diner is open for lunch daily from 11:30 am to 2:15 pm and from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Dinner is served from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm every day of the week.

Japan, 〒600-8133 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Inaricho, 448 鴨川ビル 1F 

Smoothie Etc., formerly Cosy Cafe, is an all-vegan and gluten-free cafe. With a commitment to mindful ingredients that benefit your body and the environment, . . . .

they curate a menu that celebrates a wholesome lifestyle. Adjacent to the TAMISA Yoga Studio on the 2nd floor, it’s the perfect spot to unwind after a yoga session. Whether sipping on a refreshing smoothie or savoring nourishing dishes, this cafe invites you to embrace well-being. Note: They are only open on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

1-1 Sujakushokaicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8841, Japan

Situated in the Shimogyo-ku district, Umekoji Collabo seamlessly blends Western flavors, focusing on Kyoto-sourced produce. This cozy restaurant caters to families and food enthusiasts.  . . . . 

Their menu features a harmonious fusion of meat, pasta, and other dishes, all generously incorporating fresh vegetables. Whether you are seeking a hearty lunch or a memorable dinner, Umekoji Collabo promises an incredible dining experience. It’s a perfect choice for those exploring the vibrant city of Kyoto.

600-31 Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan

This quaint townhouse café is renowned for its raw food menu, which features dishes made from fermented foods and Ayurveda, many of which are grown without pesticides by the chef. The café is . . . .

open from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to 7:30 pm but is closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Organic House Salute is praised for its cozy atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious, health-conscious cuisine. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or just someone who appreciates good food, Organic House Salute is a great place to eat great food.

512 Washiocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0072, Japan

Kodaiji Wakuden is a Green Michelin restaurant near the Kodaiji Temple, offering an ambiance of refined elegance. This long-standing establishment, which started as a hotel in Tango in 1870, . . . .

is celebrated for its focus on preparing the best seasonal cuisine. It is known for its unique features that highlight the elegance of the tea ceremony. The restaurant offers a variety of courses for lunch and dinner; one of the highlights of Kodaiji Wakuden is its vegetarian menu, known as Shojin, which starts at 33,000 yen. This menu needs to be reserved five days in advance. The restaurant sources seasonal ingredients such as mushrooms and crab from the Tango area, northern Kyoto prefecture. In addition to its exquisite cuisine, Kodaiji Wakuden is recognized for its commitment to sustainability. They engage in organic rice cultivation in Kyotango. The harvested rice is used in their restaurants. The restaurant operates from 12:00 to 15:00 and 17:30 to 21:00 from Monday to Sunday. 

106-13 Gokencho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0036, Japan

Tan is a Green Michelin restaurant located on the banks of Shirakawa Bridge on Sanjo-dori. The name ‘Tan’ comes from the character “Tan,” which means “small sincerity,” and . . . .

the food served here hails from the Tango region. The restaurant offers a variety of meals throughout the day. Breakfast is loaded with vegetables, lunch consists of rice bowls with toppings and noodle dishes, while evening fare is à la carte. Each menu is simple yet creatively prepared and plated. They showcase excellent products made in the Tango Peninsula and introduce farmers, fishermen, artisans, and artists from Tango. The vegetables used are grown without any burdens to the natural environment, using natural farming methods and no fertilizers or pesticides. The rice is homegrown in paddy fields in a healthy natural environment free of agricultural chemicals. They are closed every Monday. If Monday is a holiday, they will be closed on Tuesday instead. However, breakfast is served from 8:00 to 9:00, lunch from 12:00 to 14:30, and dinner from 18:00 to 22:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.

198 Higashiuoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8057, Japan

Hale is a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Nishiki Market. Situated within a serene, traditional Kyoto townhouse called a Machiya, it boasts wooden interiors and a view of a quaint . . . . 

 garden. The ambiance offers a tranquil respite from the lively market surroundings. Hale presents a rotating set menu showcasing diverse dishes, including soft tofu, pickled vegetables, rice bowls, yuba, and mushroom soup, all crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Reservations are necessary for dinner on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Dinner is from 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm.

Japan, 〒605-0009 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Ohashicho, 89-1 鈴木形成外科ビル 1F

Choice is known for its warm and inviting ambiance, providing a cozy retreat from the bustling streets of Kyoto. It is trendy among health-conscious diners, as it offers a carefully curated menu of vegan . . . .

and gluten-free options from breakfast to dinner made with CHOICE’s Standard Organics, like additive-free ingredients and dairy-free products. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or just looking for a healthy, delicious meal, Choice is a fantastic dining option in Kyoto.

87 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1112, Japan

Hirobun is located in the shaded mountain village of Kibune. It is renowned for its Nagashi Somen, a refreshing summer dish that offers a way to cool down. The restaurant is perched just . . . .

above the river’s surface, providing a serene riverside dining experience known as Kawadoko. Diners sit alongside a gently sloped bamboo waterslide, eagerly awaiting small bundles of cooked somen (thin, white rice noodles) that the chef drops into the water. The noodles float downstream to be scooped up with chopsticks, dipped in a broth, and promptly eaten.

32-3 Ishibashi-cho, Jodoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 606-8406

Sojiki Nakahigashi is a prestigious restaurant renowned for its exceptional Japanese cuisine using seasonal ingredients. The restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars, signifying its . . . . 

excellent cooking and worthiness. They offer vegetarian options, a unique experience for those who prefer plant-based meals, and they only accept cash payments. This restaurant is the perfect place for anyone visiting Japan who appreciates vegetables and wants to experience the kaiseki form.

〒604-0831 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Matsuyacho, 35-1

Sake Bar Yoramu is a unique establishment that offers a fantastic range of tastes from its sake selection. The bar prides itself on serving sake that is interesting, complex, and powerful; sake is made from . . . .

just rice, water, yeast, and koji fungus. The bar is open from 18:00 to 24:00, Wednesday to Saturday, and closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. During the day, the same place turns into “Teuchi TORU Soba,” where fresh soba noodles made of 100% buckwheat flour are served. For a quiet evening in Kyoto and getting acquainted with good sake, Sake Bar Yoramu is an excellent choice.

Organic Tea and coffee

Japan, 〒604-0915 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Tokiwagicho, 52 寺町通二条上ル

The Ippodo Tea Kyoto Main Store is located on the historic Teramachi Street. The store offers high-quality teas, including matcha, Gyokuro, sencha, and bancha. Each blend is carefully crafted . . . .

 to maintain the distinctive Ippodo tea flavor. The store exudes an atmospheric mix of old and new, with a large counter displaying all of Ippodo’s teas and a wall lined with old tea jars. Open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The store is a must-visit for anyone seeking to experience Japanese tea’s authentic taste and tradition.

278-1 Yamashirocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0831, Japan

Mandaracha is a unique vegan tea house in the historic Gion district. It offers a blend of tradition and modernity. Mandaracha is renowned for its authentic premium teas, such as flavored . . . .

Japanese, cold-brewed, nitro, and fresh ground matcha. The tea house operates on weekdays from 13:00 to 18:00 and weekends from 10:00 to 18:00, and it is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

7T+

73番地1 Shioyacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8052, Japan

7T+, located in the bustling area of Kawaramachi, is a specialty tea shop that opened in June 20211. The name “7T+” embodies the exploration of the seven types of tea and their potential. The shop . . . .

treasures the diversity of tea, regardless of tea type, origin, or variety. With over 80 varieties of tea leaves on offer, they introduce customers to a wide range of teas, including scented teas like jasmine tea and other beverages commonly referred to as tea. Whether you’re a tea connoisseur or a casual tea drinker, the tea shop offers a unique opportunity to rediscover the world of tea.

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76-15 Okazaki Tennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8335

Kyoto Nama Chocolat Organic Tea House is a charming and peaceful haven for tea and chocolate lovers. This tea house specializes in nama (“fresh”) chocolate, a mixture of chocolate and . . . .

 cream that is a Japanese version of traditional French ganache. The tea house is housed in a 100-year-old conventional wooden house adorned with antiques, exuding an old-world Kyoto charm. It is open from 12:00 to 18:00 from Wednesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

86 Terauchi, Kokura-cho, Uji-shi, Kyoto 611-0042

Marukyu Koyamaen is a renowned tea producer in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. The private tea estate’s history dates back to the Genroku era (1704) when Kujiro Koyama began cultivating tea. Marukyu . . . .

Koyamaen’s motto is “Making Teas With Quality as the Highest Priority.” Everything from cultivation to in-house production is handled. The company’s commitment to quality has earned them the JAS certification, “Certification of the Japanese Agricultural Standard for Processing Food from Organic Agricultural Products,” or the equivalent of the USDA certification. Marukyu Koyamaen offers various products: matcha tea, high-grade Gyokuro tea, sencha tea, and matcha-flavored sweets and beverages. Tours of the tea plant are available. Please make a reservation seven days in advance. If you cannot schedule a tour, you can purchase teas from their shop, Nishinotoin Tea Shop & Tea House “Motoan,” Kyoto Takashimaya Dept. Store, or JR Kyoto Isetan Dept. Store.

Organic Markets

318番6 Inaricho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8022, Japan

Good Nature Station is a shopping mall in Kawaramachi committed to offering food that is good for the body, the mind, the community, society, and the planet. The market is filled with organic and . . . .

locally grown foods, including vegetables, fruits, and processed foods. The mall also has a central kitchen that offers a take-out menu featuring seasonal treats and fresh vegetables from the market. This market truly represents a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle.

Natural Foods Donguri

3-2 Tanaka Furukawacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8232, Japan

Natural Foods Donguri is a health food store that sells a variety of organic and vegan foods and meat substitutes. It supports healthy living with good food, clean water, and good lifestyle habits. . . . .

The store operates Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

673-1 Kuenin Maecho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-0993, Japan

Zero Waste Kyoto is a select shop located on Teramachi Street. It is known for its eco-friendly initiatives, such as selling food by weight to reduce plastic packaging waste. The shop offers a fun, . . . .

circular shopping experience, blending old wisdom with new ideas. They also provide unique services like a subscription for natto (fermented soybeans) that doesn’t use plastic containers. The shop is open from 10:00 to 20:006.

what to experience

Japan, 〒605-0862 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 清水八坂上町388

Tucked away in the picturesque district of Higashiyama, Hokan-ji Temple, also known as Yasaka Pagoda, is a revered symbol of historical significance and architectural elegance. The five-story. . . . 

 pagoda exudes an aura of timeless grace and spiritual reverence, rising majestically against the backdrop of the surrounding hills. Visitors are drawn to its intricate wooden craftsmanship and the panoramic views of Kyoto cityscape from its upper tiers, offering a serene sanctuary amidst the bustling urban landscape.

3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0881, Japan

Steeped in centuries of imperial history and cultural heritage, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is a magnificent testament to Japan’s regal past. Nestled within the vast grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Park, . . . .

this architectural marvel served as the residence of the Imperial Family until the capital moved to Tokyo in the late 19th century. Surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens and tranquil moats, the palace exudes an air of grandeur and tranquility, inviting visitors to stroll through its hallowed halls and verdant courtyards, where echoes of a bygone era whisper tales of emperors and empresses.

721-1 Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan

Dominating the skyline of Kyoto with its sleek silhouette and modernist allure, Kyoto Tower stands as a beacon of urban sophistication amidst the city’s rich tapestry of historical landmarks. . . . 

This architectural marvel, rising 131 meters above ground, offers panoramic vistas of Kyoto’s sprawling cityscape, from the verdant hills to the bustling streets below. Whether admired from afar or ascended for a bird’ s-eye view, Kyoto Tower remains an iconic symbol of the city’s ever-evolving skyline.

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1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan

Bathed in shimmering gold leaf, the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji) stands as a majestic icon of Kyoto. Officially named Rokuon-ji, this Zen temple was once a shogun’s retirement villa, offering a. . . .

glimpse into Japan’s opulent past. Its three-story structure reflects in the serene waters of a reflecting pond, creating a picture of breathtaking beauty. Wander through the picturesque gardens, where serenity reigns and time stands still.

657 Sanjusangendomawari, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0941, Japan

Nestled in the Higashiyama Ward, the Temple of 1,001 Buddhas (Jodo-ji) is a haven for serenity and spiritual reflection. As its name suggests, the temple houses a staggering 1,001 statues of Buddha, . . . .

each with a unique expression and posture, meticulously arranged in rows and halls. The most iconic sight is the main hall, where hundreds of gilded Buddhas line the walls, their serene visages casting a warm glow over the tranquil space.

Gion, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Step back to Kyoto’s Gion district, where the echoes of geisha traditions linger in the air. Narrow lanes lined with traditional wooden teahouses and hidden gardens evoke a bygone elegance. . . .

While geisha sightings are rare, the district’s charm lies in its meticulously preserved architecture, atmospheric alleyways, and the occasional glimpse of a maiko (apprentice geisha) gracefully gliding by in her vibrant kimono.

Sagaogurayama Tabuchiyamacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8394, Japan

Located in the Arashiyama district, this enchanting grove is famous for its towering bamboo stalks that sway gently in the breeze, creating a mesmerizing symphony of rustling leaves. . . .

As you wander through the narrow pathways, you’ll feel a sense of peace surrounding you, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the timeless charm of Japan’s natural landscape.

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan

In the serene precincts of Arashiyama, nestled amidst the verdant hills of Kyoto, lies the illustrious Inari Shrine. Renowned for its beauty and spiritual significance, this sacred site beckons . . . .

visitors with its iconic vermilion torii gates that meander through the lush forest, creating a pathway to inner reflection and reverence. Emanating an aura of tranquility, Inari Shrine is a testament to Japan’s rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted reverence for the divine.

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan

Situated at the foothills of Mount Inari in southern Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari Shrine stands as a symbol of devotion and endurance. As the principal shrine dedicated to Inari, the . . . .

Shinto deity of rice and prosperity, it attracts pilgrims and tourists. Its iconic pathway is adorned by thousands of vivid vermilion torii gates, ascending towards the sacred summit. Amidst the vibrant hues and mystical ambiance, visitors are invited on a spiritual journey, seeking blessings, fortune, and inner peace in the hallowed sanctuary of Fushimi Inari.

Japan, 〒616-0004 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, 61

Monkey Park is a haven for nature and wildlife lovers.. Known locally as Iwatayama Monkey Park, this sanctuary offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe Japanese macaques in . . . .

their natural habitat. As visitors ascend the hillside, they are greeted by panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. At the same time, the playful antics of the resident monkeys add a touch of whimsy to the experience. Surrounded by dense forest and tranquil pathways, Monkey Hill provides a welcome retreat from the bustle of city life, inviting guests to connect with nature and marvel at the wonders of the animal kingdom.

541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8301, Japan

Standing proudly as a symbol of feudal power and architectural prowess, Nijo Castle commands attention amidst the historic cityscape of Kyoto. Initially constructed in the 17th century,  . . . .

this formidable fortress has weathered time, bearing witness to centuries of Japanese history and tradition. Its imposing stone walls, elegant turrets, and expansive grounds offer visitors a glimpse into the past, inviting exploration and reflection. From the vantage points atop the castle walls, guests can admire sweeping views of Kyoto and immerse themselves in the storied legacy of this iconic landmark.

Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Shirakawa, known as the Prettiest Street in Kyoto, is a picturesque thoroughfare nestled along the banks of the Shirakawa River. Lined with traditional Machiya townhouses boasting . . . .

elegant wooden facades and charming lattice windows, this enchanting street captivates visitors with its timeless beauty. The tranquil ambiance, accentuated by the gentle flow of the river and the canopy of willow trees overhead, offers a serene escape from the bustling city.

Japan, 〒600-8468 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Hanayacho, 下る 井筒佐女牛ビル 5階 新

The Fashion Museum in Kyoto is a destination for enthusiasts and scholars of haute couture and sartorial history. This institution celebrates the evolution of fashion through the ages,  . . . . 

showcasing an exquisite collection of garments, accessories, and ephemera. Each exhibit offers insight into the craftsmanship, cultural significance, and artistic expression inherent in fashion design, from traditional kimono to contemporary couture. With its meticulously curated displays and immersive experiences, the Fashion Museum is a vibrant hub for creativity, education, and appreciation of the artistry that shapes our style and identity.

day trips

Nara, Japan

Just a quick train ride from Kyoto, Nara is home to some of Japan’s most historic and significant landmarks, including the Todai-ji Temple and its iconic Great Buddha. Be sure also to. . . .

check out the friendly deer that roam freely in Nara Park.

Osaka, Japan

Japan’s second-largest city, Osaka, is a bustling metropolis that will captivate you with its unique blend of modern and traditional culture. Be sure to go down to Dotonbori and . . . .

visit the iconic Osaka Castle.

Kurama, Kyoto

This small mountain village is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto. Relax in the Kurama Onsen hot springs, hike to the stunning Kurama-dera Temple, and explore the . . . .

village’s charming streets.

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Kinosaki Onsen, Toyooka, Hyogo, Japan

This picturesque onsen town is located on the northern coast of the Hyogo prefecture and is known for its hot springs and charming traditional architecture. Spend the day soaking in the town’s . . . .

many onsens and strolling along its tranquil streets.

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