Experience Kyoto: Food

Kyoto is a city of many layers of Japanese culture accumulated through time. The cultural experience of the people in each historical layer can be found chronicled in every corner of the city. However, we cannot help but see that modern society’s infatuation with technology and economic growth is causing the abrupt loss of these myriad memories ingrained within the city and its architecture. They are contained in fragile elements like paper, wood, and clay walls and their succession to future generations is by no means assured. We need to redevelop the mind-set and spirit with which to appreciate these qualities that make up the true nature of our culture.
— Kinoshita Ryoichi, KJ 27
Kyoto has a wealth of beauty which is not surpassed anywhere in the world. Once more we touch on one of the fundamental differences between Europe and the Far East. Florence is Western beauty displayed for all to see; Kyoto is Eastern; its beauty is concealed, a secret to be wrested from it little by little. …the things that matter at Kyoto are tucked away in little valleys, in green alcoves between the folds of the hills. Its beauties do not present themselves, but have to be sought out.
— Fosco Maraini from Meeting with Japan, I960

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Vegetarian Survival in Kyoto


Kyoto offers a great choice of restaurants for vegetarians and vegans. Here is a list of some of our favourites, as well as some websites and blogs to aid you in your search.


Deep Kyoto
Excellent local info including listing of vegetarian restaurants and import foodstores, more restaurants here, vegan list here, very valuable source

Vegetarian Dining in Japan
“Travel notes from two vegetarians exploring Japan” (Oct/Nov 2007) Great reviews with excellent photos, useful links, very informative with many good local restaurants but missing some that are definitely worth knowing about…

VegGuide Kyoto
Covers some of those gaps.

Happy Cow – listing of 34 Kyoto veg-friendly & vegan restaurants etc.
Miko-An – vegan, great value, in Teramachi (website and map in Japanese)
Bento.com – “some Kansai-area restaurants that have entirely vegetarian menus or strong vegetarian offerings”
Obanzai – Best lunch value in Kyoto, all-you-can-eat buffet for under 900 yen, three blocks west of the Manga Museum (dinner is more expensive, same food)…
Falafel Garden close to Demachi-Yanagi Eiden station, good value: map
Sunny Place – vegetarian restaurant between Demachi-Yanagi and Hyakuman-ben
Village – On Shirakawa, south of Kitaoji, west side, 2F (above Tenkaippen ramen)
Earth Kitchen – organic bento take-aways; Marutamachi close to Kawabata, next to the excellent Green-e bookstore
Cafe Proverbs 15:17 –”Better is a dish of vegetables where love is, Than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Short review here. More here. Just say “Soy ramen.” Owned by Kick Back Cafe in Tokyo, worth checking out if you’re up that way..
Vegan Restaurant Pocket Guide – 1,500 yen, guide and phrasebook… updates online. Available Junkudo bookstores, Felafel Garden, Sunny Place…
Japan Visitor – blog on veg & veganism in Japan (2005 posting)
Vegetable Japan – excellent blog with recipes, a wealth of information
Just Hungry – a site about Japanese food and home cooking, healthy eating, the expat food life, and more (not all veg, but some great vegetarian info here and good recipes here)
Kyoto Foodie – general interest Kyoto food blog, not especially veg-or-vegan-centric, but a good source for informative posts on seasonal local delicacies.
Eat Drink Kyoto – Kyoto Foodie.


Online suppliers (imported foods and more):


Tengu (Alishan Organic Center) mail orders, out of Saitama
Foreign Buyers’s Club – Based in Kobe, non-members welcome, home delivery
The Flying Pig – Costco Japan home deliveries, in English