These Little Cafes Are Kyoto’s Best-Kept Secret
Seek and you shall find.
Kyoto has no shortage of sightseeing spots, with its beautiful temples, famous tea shops, and historical palaces. However, the city is also rich in lovely cafes that are worth a visit themselves. Here, we list down a few that should be on your itinerary, including an 80-year-old coffee shop and a riverside retreat.
559-4 Karuzono-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City
Open daily from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. except Tuesdays
How to get there: It’s a 5-minute walk from Higashiyama Subway Station.
Located just along Shirakawa River’s clear flowing stream, Shirakawa Cafe had originally been a townhouse garage before being converted into a four-square-meter retreat using old fittings and a charming red signboard. The highlight of this cafe is its tea-scented coffee, which combines the mellow fragrance of Japanese tea and the subtleties of roasted coffee.
Try to get a spot in the terrace seating area, so you can watch the river flow in front of you and feel the gentle breeze on your skin.
You can also order your drink to go, so you can walk along the Shirakawa River. Both sides of the river are expected to be beautifully paved by next spring.
The cafe is renovated to further complement the town’s landscape and also includes a designated take-out window.
Inside the self-renovated former townhouse garage.
The Roasted Tea Coffee (¥400, right) makes use of Uji’s high-quality tea leaf fragrance, and for a limited time only, you can also order the Uzu Soda (¥600, left), which makes use of the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu from the Ukyo-ward and Mizuo regions.
“Designed around the concept of connecting tourists with the locals, why not enjoy taking time out to speak to one of the long standing customers who frequents the establishment while being amazed by the beautiful view of the river”, comments cafe manager Mr. Mutsumi Nishimura.
Murakami Kaishindo Cafe
Kyoto City, Nakagyo Ward, Teramachi Street, Nijo Agaru Higashi-gawa
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Sundays, public holidays, and the third Monday of each month
How to get there: It’s 4 minutes away from Kyoto Subway Shiyakusho Mae Station.
Founded in 1907, the Murakami Kaishindo confectionery shop, known for its Russian cakes, has opened Murakami Kaishindo Cafe. Immerse yourself in an atmosphere that recreates Japan’s Showa era while indulging in the cafe’s limited edition sweets and coffee!
Modern Japanese interiors with colors reminiscent of a Northern European antique style.
Cafe Limited Edition Sweet Set (Fondant chocolat), (¥1200).
The Café Limited Edition Sweet Set (roasted tea chiffon cake), (¥1200), uses roasted tea from Ippodo. A choice of coffee or tea is available as part of the set.
“The front of the building consists of western plastered architecture with the rear consisting of Japanese architecture. This cafe retains the features once part of the former residence while having all the charms of a cafe one could expect,” comments shop owner Mr. Shoichi Murakami.
50-1 Kamikawara-cho Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City
Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How to get there: It’s 10 minutes on foot from Nijoujoumae Station.
Café KAMEE COFFEE, which is located in the Sanjo shopping district, is famous for Okinawa-sourced sweets and foods, as this is the area where the shopkeeper was born. Make sure you order their hand-drip coffee and espresso, both of which boast of the rich taste of Okinawa's YAMADA COFFEE.
A renovated wooden building that goes back about 80 years
Okinawa Zenzai Sweet may no longer available, but you can still order their traditional Okinawa sweet deep-fried buns that come in four varieties such as chocolate (¥70 to ¥100), and their coffee float (¥560 yen).
"This cafe creates a warm feel with its wooden timbers and makes use of reused materials and decorative items such as those of American origin in a charming way. From September 30 last year, the second floor is also available as a private room,” comments Mr. Yoshikatsu Nakazato.
OTYOBO by ENGAWA cafe
155-4 Tachibanayanagicho, Nijo-Agaru, Shin Karasumadori, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City
Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except on Thursdays
How to get there: It’s a 4-minute walk from Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station.
ENGAWA cafe, which has a popular menu that makes use of nama-fu (fresh gluten cakes) and yaki-fu (baked gluten cakes), has opened sister store OTYOBO by ENGAWA cafe. Sweets made with baked products from the cafe owner’s home town are provided for your selection. There is also a dine-in limited menu.
Plain Wheat-Gluten and Japanese Powdered Tea Bean Jam Bun (¥313) as well as six other varieties of OTYOBO Steamed Buns (¥313 to ¥399), Kimagure Wheat-Gluten Crepe (¥702), Ippodo’s Cold-Brewed Green Tea (¥540).
"The townhouse which lets you take off your shoes is the perfect place to relax, especially the second floor room which is particularly popular! Enjoy this cafe’s luxurious space which is hidden in the back alley”, comments cafe manager Mr. Hagizaki.
Provided by Japan Walker™ and Kansai Walker™ (18 May 2017)