Torii Chaya Shin Shin An

Kawadoko Dining in Kibune

By Cordelia Ding    - 3 min read

Have you been wanting to splurge on a fancy, unique dining experience while traveling in Japan in the Kansai region, but have had too many choices to choose from, leaving you to just settle for "konbini" (convenience store) food, or ramen for many meals?

If you have a day or even just half a day in Kyoto or the Kansai area, I would most definitely recommend visiting the mountainous region in northern Kyoto, home to the famous Mt. Kurama and Kurama Temple, as well as Kifune Jinja in Kibune. The easiest and most efficient way to travel to Kurama and Kibune is by taking either the Keihan Railway or Kyoto city bus to Demachiyanagi Station, and taking either the Eizan railway or continuing with the Kyoto bus system. The cheapest way to get to Kurama is by buying the ¥500 One-day Kyoto city and Kyoto bus ticket. However, the duration of the journey is significantly longer than if you were to take the Keihan Railway and the Eizan Railway, so it may be worth it to travel by train instead.

If even just for the dining experience, I would recommend this trip. What is so special about cuisine up north in Kyoto, in Kibune specifically? One answer: "kawadoko restaurants." Kawadoko restaurants that serve "kawadoko ryori" (cuisine) originated from the traditional ceremony. The word "kawadoko" translates directly into "place at or by the river,' which is perfectly fitting, as these restaurants are decks with seating in tatami style above the rivers and small waterfalls in Kibune. It is an elegant dining style, and many of the kaiseki style restaurants offer a kimono rental with each dining course, making it a perfectly luxurious Japanese style meal.

There is no better place to sit down and dish out bills for a delicious meal of fresh, seasonal dishes, than at one of these restaurants in Kibune. You may even want to try one of the many "kaiseki" courses offered by plenty of the restaurants. These kawadoko restaurants are highly famous for their fresh fish and tofu courses, especially. This is definitely a high-end and high-range trip if you are looking to dine at one of these restaurants, but do not worry - there are affordable options as well.

During my trip to Kibune, I ate a leisurely lunch at Torii Chaya ShinShinAn (鳥居茶屋), one of the first restaurants you will approach if you are walking to Kifune Jinja from Demachiyanagi Station. The summer special Bento Box was a reasonable ¥3240 (tax included). It came with a variety of small dishes including Kyoto style pickled vegetables, koi carp sashimi, a small fried fresh fish, ochazuke (hot tea and rice) and soumen with a soft-boiled egg. The quality of the cuisine was to be expected, and I found my tastebuds experiencing new exotic flavors of the foreign Japanese washoku (traditional cuisine).

So if your budget is a little more free, and you're looking for something a little different and a more one-of-kind experience in the traditional setting of a Kyoto style meal, check out one of the kawadoko restaurants in Kibune, and be sure to visit the historical sites nearby.

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Cordelia Ding

Cordelia Ding @cordelia.ding

A college student currently in Tokyo, Japan

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