Animated vendors make eating fun and enjoyable! (Photo: Erik O'Brien)

Hirokawa & Dining Out in Arashiyama

Delightful encounters in Western Kyoto

Animated vendors make eating fun and enjoyable! (Photo: Erik O'Brien)
Erik OBrien   - 3 min read

After a day of becoming one with yourself and the beauty of your surroundings in Arashiyama you surely will have become hungry. Walk over to the main streets of Arashiyama and whether you fancy a fancy restaurant or simply want to wander the streets stopping off and experiencing an array of food stalls there will be no shortage to whatever you desire.

Being that it was my birthday I decided upon Hirokawa. Established in 1967 and across from Tenruji Temple, Hirokawa is renowned for its traditional preparation of unagi (eel).

Its wooden interior is exquisite and garden serene. Eating at Hirokawa is much a gastronomic extension of the natural beauty you just left behind.

With its emphasis on eel, you will find interesting appetizers such as grilled eel fins and eel livers glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce (recommended) or if you prefer, grilled and skewered. There are other preparations as well but if you want to try something really interesting, try Yanagawa. This is a soup of boiled loaches with scrambled egg and divine seasoning!

As for the eel entrée, they are simply grilled to perfection and glazed with Hirokawa’s special sauce and served over a bed of rice and available in different sizes.

Order sake and it will be served to you in a piece of Arashiyama bamboo! You will smile when you receive it and each time you pour. And all seems right with the world!

Appetizers average 500-800 yen, Entrée average 3,000 yen and drinks 800 yen.

If Hirokawa is not within your budget or you simply want to try street fare there is no shortage of this either. All along the end of the main street that lead to Togetsukyo Bridge are an array of stalls serving an equal array of interesting street foods with its animated vendors serving up typical favorites to the obscure. All of which starts from 100 yen and not exceeding 500 yen.

While this choice of dining will not bring you the tranquility of Hirokawa it is a great way to savor both, the variety of foods and the lively energy of the masses of people gathering in the streets or making their way to Togetsukyo Bridge or one of the many shrines that stay open late for koyou (red foliage) viewing during autumn

Wherever your decision is to go make sure you back track on to the main streets until you reach the center, where you will find the most quaint little outdoor shopping square which is also the station for the Keifuku retro trolley line.

Containing everything from high quality chopsticks, crafts and of course deserts. My favorite is the Arinco stall where you can get a sponge cake topped with ice cream sprinkled with your choice of matcha or houji powder from 300-500 yen. Sit on one of the many cushioned wooden benches and take in the fairy tale existence that surrounds you.

Erik OBrien

Erik OBrien @erik.obrien

Japan has left an indelible mark on my heart and soul. From the films of Mizoguchi Kenji to the culture of tea I am an avid consumer of anything related to the Japan of old and generally focus my travels and experiences within this realm. The culture of tea has so profoundly changed my life that ...