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Kyoto Riverside Dining
Open-air paradise for food & mood

Summer in Kyoto is said to be the hottest and most humid in all of Japan. In some locations in Kyoto where rivers flow, eateries, bars and cafes set up large wooden platforms so that diners can forget about the sweaty hot climate and relax while enjoying the river breeze and taking in the view.

Kawadoko in Kibune

These wooden platforms are called yuka or kawadoko depending on the area. Planning a fine meal at a Yuka or Kawadoko will surely be the evening highlight of your time in Kyoto, the heart of traditional Japan.

Noryo Yuka by Kamo River
The most famous riverside outdoor dining is Noryo Yuka along the Kamo River. Yuka extend east (facing the Kamo River) from many downtown restaurants and make for an unforgettable location for relaxing, enjoying a fine dinner or even just for dessert or drinks. These open-air dining areas are unique to Kyoto and, though they have a reputation for being very expensive, diners will be pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices can be.

Noryo Yuka along Kamo River in daytime

The serendipitous effect of the beautiful views over the river and the eastern skyline make the excellent food and drink in the lively open setting taste even better. Today, there are about 100 Yuka set up along the downtown area of the river with each restaurant serving a slightly different form of cuisine. While most specialize in traditional Kyoto fare, some serve ethnic food and others offer Western dishes.

Yuka first appeared in the late 16th century. In those days, these outdoor eateries were nothing more than wooden benches placed along side and sometimes even in the Kamo River. They were not owned by the restaurants or drinking establishments but were a sort of public place, like a park bench. Often, wealthy people would set up a table-bench along the river to entertain an important visitor from out of town.

Noryo Yuka along Kamo River in nighttime; © Jeremy Hoare

After improvements were made to the Kamo River, food stalls started operating along the riverbank. Over time, as the popularity of Yuka grew, the structures became more elaborate, eventually assuming their present-day form.

Access to Noryo Yuka: Yuka is set up on the west side of the river between Nijo and Goji Street. Many restaurants on Pontocho and Kiyamachi offer a variety of delicacies.

Kawadoko in Kibune
Kibune is a mountain village nestled in a steep valley north of Kyoto that has long been used as a summer retreat by the residents of Kyoto. In the summer, the area is known for its unique kawadoko restaurants where traditional Japanese tatami rooms are built above the Kibune River. Wooden platforms extend just slightly above the riverbed so that diners can enjoy the pleasant sounds of the stream flowing below them while savoring an exquisite kaiseki course meal.

Grilled ayu (sweet fish) and boiled hamo (conger eel) are typical summer delicacies often served at riverside restaurants

The waters that flow from the source of the Kibune River are very pure and cold. In this natural setting at Kibune, the atmosphere is very special and Kyoto cuisine is a true delight. A joyful train ride into the misty mountain area and pleasant walk in the forest to this restaurant area is yet another attraction.

Access to Kibune area: Take Eizan Railway from Demachiyanagi Stn. and get off at Kibuneguchi Stn.; It takes about 30 min. on foot to the kawadoko restaurant area (nice summer walk!) or take a local bus.

Keiryo Yuka in Shozan Resort Kyoto
Shozan Resort is located in the tranquil Takagamine area in the north part of the city. The carefully maintained spacious garden offers ever-changing seasonal views of great natural beauty. Takagamine is the area where Koetsu Hon’ami (1558-1637), a multi-talented artist (a potter, painter, calligrapher and garden designer), settled at the beginning of the Edo period. Koetsu brought many other artists and craftsmen to this place, and, as a result, the big village of artists, Koetsu Village, was formed.

During the summer months, special dining platforms called keiryo yuka are setup above the Kamiya River that runs through this exceptionally artistic site. Feeling the refreshing breezes from the river and surrounded by serene greenery, people can experience authentic Kyoto cuisine created using seasonal specialties. Lunch will be served from 11:30 or 13:30, dinner from 17:00 (L.O. 19:45).

Savor fine Kyoto cuisine with seasonal views of natural beauty

Access to Shozan Resort: From Kitaoji Bus Terminal, take the Kita (north) #1 and get off at Kita Konohatacho; Tel: 075-491-5101; www.shozan.co.jp