Flavours Of Traditional And Modern Japan: 10 Unique Cafés In Kyoto!

Flavours Of Traditional And Modern Japan: 10 Unique Cafés In Kyoto!

Kyoto is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and historical artefacts vary from the Amanohashidate to Toji Pagoda Temple. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Japan and it is famous for traditional Japanese cuisine and Japanese sweets as well. Apart from that, there are various cafés around Kyoto that blend the traditional Japanese culture together with today’s latest trends. Here are 10 cafés that you should visit when in Kyoto!

1. Fantastic café for reading: Kotobano Haoto

Kosho to Sabou Kotobano Haoto is a café found in a residential area. The simple exterior of the café doesn’t look like a grand place, in fact it is quite the opposite - an extremely homey feel is emanated from the café.

Kosho to Sabou literally means “old books and teahouse” and like its name suggests, the café is filled with shelves of book. Various genre of books, including novels, magazines and storybooks are found in Kosho to Sabou Kotobano Haoto and it is a fantastic place for those who love reading! The quiet environment is slightly similar to that of a library - no loud talking is allowed in the café. Relaxing music and background noise, however, give it a perfect atmosphere for reading.

The menu at Kosho to Sabou Kotobano Haoto is also fascinating and it is most known for the Nyanko Parfait. Only 20 of this dish is sold each day, and it is a cute parfait designed like a cat. It is recommended that you visit the café early as it is a very popular place - you might end up waiting for hours and missing the Nyanko Parfait if unlucky.

古書と茶房 ことばのはおと Kosho to Sabou Kotobano Haoto

Address 34 Aburanokojidori Shimochojamachi Sagaru Daikokuyacho Kamigyo-Ku, Kyoto-city

Access 14-minute walk from Marutamachi station

Opening hours 11:30 am - 7:30 pm

Fixed holidays Monday and Tuesday

Contact +81 75-414-2050

Official URL available only in Japanese

2. Fushimi Yumehyakushu: The best place for Sake sweets!

Fushimi Yumehyakushu

Fushimi Yumehyakushu is a café located in the building that used to be the flagship store of Gekkeikan (a Japanese alcohol brand) in the past. The building has a history that dates all the way back to the Taisho era (year 1912 to 1926) and was one of the many Sake shops that used to line the streets of Kyoto.

Housed in a building built in 1919, Fushimi Yumehyakushu has an extremely retro atmosphere - the decorations and furniture are all from the Taisho era and has an interesting mix of Japanese and Western culture.

At the entrance area of Fushimi Yumehyakushu, various souvenirs and Japanese Sake are sold. You can enjoy coffee, red tea and Japanese sweets in the café. There are also Sake Manju (Japanese sweets), Sake Castella and Sake Ice Cream available. For those who love Japanese Sake, here’s the perfect place for you!

伏見夢百衆 (Fushimi Yumehyakushu)

Address 247 Minamihamacho Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 7-minute walk from Chushojima Station

Opening hours10:30 am - 5 pm (Tuesday to Friday), 10:30 am - 6 pm (Saturday, Sunday and public holidays)

Fixed holidays Monday

Contact +81 75-623-1360

Find more

3. d Shokudo - the temple café

d Shokudo

d Shokudo is a café found in Bukkoji Temple and it is a fantastic place to enjoy great food while appreciating the beauty of Japan’s seasonal landscapes together with traditional Japanese architecture. During spring, gorgeous pink sakura flowers will surround the temple while yellow maidenhair leaves will brightly decorate the area in autumn.

d Shokudo has a unique atmosphere - it is in a temple, meaning that the floors have tatami mats (Japanese straw mats) and is built with wood. However, the furniture is extremely modern and so is the design. This creates an interesting harmony of cultures. The menu at d Shokudo ranges from desserts such as black sesame pudding and Matcha ice cream, to other items such as fried rice balls. It is great for lunch as well as for a short café break!

d食堂 (dShokudo)

Address 397 Shinkaicho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 5-minute walk from Shijo station

Opening hours 11 am - 6 pm

Fixed holidays Wednesday

Contact +81 75-343-3215

Official URL available only in Japanese

4. Oldest Wagashi store in Japan: Ichimonjiya Wasuke

Ichimonjiya Wasuke Aburi-mochi 20171119
Source: Photo by user Hisagi used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ichimonjiya Wasuke is known to be the oldest Wagashi (Japanese sweets) store in Japan. It has an amazing history of over 1000 years and was closely related to the Imamiya Shrine.

At Ichimonjiya Wasuke, it is recommended that you order the Aburi Mochi which means Seared Mochi (Mochi is a type of Japanese rice cake). The delicious Mochi are served on a stick and has a splendid Miso taste. The price is also extremely reasonable - 500 JPY (4.9 USD) for a cup of tea and 13 sticks of Aburi Mochi altogether!

一文字屋和助 (Ichimonjiya Wasuke)

Address 69 Murasakino Imamiyacho Kita-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 20-minute walk from Kita-Oji station

Opening hours 10 am - 5 pm

Fixed holidays Wednesday

Contact +81 75-492-6852

Find more

5. Delicious Black Bean sweets from Kuromame Saan Kitao

Kuromame Saan Kitao
Source: bow

Kuromame Saan Kitao is found near the Kyoto Nishiki Market, sometimes known as “the kitchen of Kyoto”. Many locals do their grocery shopping there and it is also a popular tourist destination.

Kitao, a shop which handles beans and sugar, was opened in 1892. Kuromame Saan Kitao is hence best known for its Kuromame (black bean) dishes. The first storey sells various beans and sweets, while the second storey is the café. Apart from traditional Japanese sweets, the café sells Japanese cuisine based around black beans.

Furthermore, at Kuromame Saan Kitao, you can try milling the black beans! When you order the Warabimochi or Kuromame Mitarashi Dango, whole black beans will be given to you and you will get to mill them using the huge millstone provided. The sweet scent of the freshly milled black beans will send your senses tingling!

It is a great place for a rest after exploring Kyoto, and children will definitely be interested in the black bean milling experience.

黒豆茶庵 北尾 (Kuromame Saan Kitao)

Address 279-2, Giommachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 9-minute walk from Gion-Shijo station

Opening hours 11:30 am - 7 pm

Fixed holidays Wednesday

Contact +81 75-551-8811

Official URL available only in Japanese

6. Zen Café - arrowroot mochi in a quiet environment

flavours of traditional and modern japan: 10 unique cafés in kyoto! | zen café - arrowroot mochi in a quiet environment
Source: instagram

Zen Café is a café opened by the famous Japanese sweets store Kagizen. Found near the Gion area, Zen Café has a Kyoto-esque atmosphere with a nice Japanese-style garden. The exterior is far from eye-catching and is instead more like a hideout found in the Kyoto area - only those who know the place will have the opportunity to appreciate it.

Zen Café is best known for its Kuzu Mochi, a type of Mochi made from arrowroot. The jelly-like Mochi is topped with Kinako (toasted soybean powder) and brown sugar syrup. Zen Café is perfect for those who like a quiet and relaxing café compared to a lively one.

Zen Café

Address 570-210 Gion-machi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 3-minute walk from Gion-Shijo station

Opening hours 11 am - 6 pm

Fixed holidays Monday

Contact +81 75-533-8686

Official URL

7. You have to visit Sei-en cafe if you are going to Rokkakudo Temple!

Source: Photo by user Kykk wiki used under CC0

Sei-en is a Japanese café built in 1885 and it is located near Rokkakudo Temple, one of the famous temples in Kyoto. It has a very simple design both on the outside and inside. Neither grand nor luxurious, the cafe accurately depicts the long history it holds.

The café is best known for its dessert called Kohaku Nagashi - Agar with toppings such as honey and red beans. The Kohaku Nagashi served at Sei-en changes every month and describes the seasons in Kyoto. Shown in the photo is the May theme, Matcha. The soft Agar is topped with delicious Matcha syrup and red beans, creating a fantastic harmony of sweetness in the mouth!

栖園 (Sei-en)

Address 120 Horinouecho Rokkakudori Takakura Higashiiru Minamigawa, Chukyo-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 8-minute walk from Karasumaoike station

Opening hours 10 am - 5 pm

Fixed holidays Wednesday

Contact +81 75-221-3311

Official URL available only in Japanese

8. Kagizen - traditional Kuzukiri Mochi

We introduced earlier the Zen Café that was opened by Kagizen, now it is time to introduce you to its main branch!

Kagizen was opened during the Edo era (year 1603 - year 1868) and their Kuzukiri has been satisfying customers for hundreds of years. The Kuzukiri is a type of long Arrowroot mochi that is shaped almost like a noodle. When you order the Kuzukiri at Kagizen, you will be provided with a bowl containing black sugar syrup. The way to eat the Kuzukiri is to dip it into the black sugar syrup - much like how you eat your zaru soba noodles! The cold sweet syrup together with the soft Kuzukiri is fantastic. The Kuzukiri is rather slippery so make sure your chopstick handling skills are up to par!

鍵善良房 (Kagizen)

Address 264 Gionmachi Kitagawa Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city

Access 3-minute walk from Gion-Shijo station

Opening hours 9 am - 6 pm

Fixed holidays Monday

Contact +81 75-561-1818

Official URL

9. Nakamura Tokichi - fantastic Green Tea Jellies

Nakamura Tokichi was also opened during the Edo era and two of the buildings from the Nakamura Tokichi branch are actually designated as Important Cultural Landscapes of Japan.

Nakamura Tokichi is most famous for the Namacha Jelly which comes in two different flavours - Matcha (green tea) and Hojicha (roasted green tea). Both flavours fantastically draw out the bittersweetness of the teas. Together with the chestnuts and red beans served, they will definitely be an experience to remember. You can also have these jellies to go if you are in a hurry, and they will be perfect as souvenirs too!

中村藤吉 (Nakamura Tokichi)

Address Higashishiokoji-cho, Shimogyo-ku | (Kyoto Isetan 3F), Kyoto-city

Access 5-minute walk from Kyoto station

Opening hours 11 am - 10 pm

Fixed holidays Irregular

Contact +81 75-352-1111

Official URL

10. Amazing tea experience at Ujicha Dojo Takumi no Yakata

Ujicha Dojo Takumi no Yakata is one of the 23 Ujicha (green tea) cafés found in Kyoto. It is, however, one of the best amongst them, and all the staff at Ujicha Dojo Takumi no Yakata are licensed to handle Japanese tea. Simply said, they are Japanese tea experts.

There are four different types of Ujicha you can enjoy in Ujicha Dojo Takumi no Yakata - the Uji Matcha, Uji Gyokuro, Gyokuro Karigane and Kabuse Cha. They are all great green tea that will let you experience the best of Japanese tea culture.

This is a great café for those who want to learn more about Japanese tea in Kyoto!

宇治茶道場 匠の館 (Ujicha Dojo Takumi no Yakata)

Address 17-1 Mataburi, Uji-city

Access 6-minute walk from Uji station

Opening hours 11 am - 5 pm

Fixed holidays Wednesday

Contact +81 74-23-0888

Official URL available only in Japanese

Harmony of tradition and modern culture

From cute cafés to olden Japan-style cafés, Kyoto is filled with unique opportunities for you to enjoy Japan. Great food is accompanied by amazing experiences so make sure you check these cafés out when in Kyoto!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hi there, thanks for stopping by to read my articles. I travel to various regions in Japan and constantly find myself discovering something new. Hope my work will help in your planning and enjoy...Read more

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