Food in Kyoto

With its centuries-deep history as seat of the imperial court and its attendant aristocracy, Kyoto has a rich tradition in the culinary arts. As a city of tradesmen and hard-working craftsmen and women, Kyoto also draws on a wealth of simpler fare, with healthy, nourishing ingredients such as delicious freshly harvested local vegetables, known as kyo-yasai. A refined, almost obsessive, attention to detail is reflected in both the preparation and presentation of any meal in Kyoto.

Food in Kyoto Photo Gallery

The more gourmet kaiseki ryori, a seasonal multi-course cuisine served in a striking array of dishware, is probably the ultimate Kyoto dining experience, especially when eaten in a courtyard garden with gleaming wet stones reflecting candles or moonlight. A traveler staying at a temple’s shukubo lodging might enjoy a special vegetarian shojin ryori meal finetuned by Buddhist monks, which commonly includes tofu, a Kyoto speciality. Yuba, the “skin” from boiled soymilk, is another Kyoto culinary hallmark. For a big appetite and a small budget, Kyoto’s many teishoku-ya restaurants cater to hungry workers. Typically, teishoku “set meals” include a hearty main dish such as grilled fish or pork cutlet served with rice, miso soup, Japanese tea, and pickled vegetables at an affordable price.

A giant kani crab display at Kani Doraku in Teramachi.

A tempting display of fresh vegetables outside the Kokoraya restaurant.

A “vertical village” of restaurants along the Kamogawa River.

Locally grown kyo-yasai vegetables are known for their fresh, flavorful nutrients.

Preparing osembe soy crackers at Nishiki Market.

A lunch of soba buckwheat noodles and fried tempura.

Summer dining terraces overlook the Kamogawa River.

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