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.