Kyoto has a strong image of “wa,” the Japanese word for the traditional Japanese aesthetic, but in reality, it is a warzone for bakeries! Here are five recommended bakeshops that are famous even among the locals.
Tamakitei is a superstar of a bakery with a constant procession of customers, including fans from all over the country. Here, you will see a display of about 90 types of breads and pastries that were created by Jun Tamaki, who baked baguettes as the Japanese representative at the bakery world cup Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. Despite this bakery’s baguettes, sliced bread and other orthodox breads being made with basically just flour, yeast, water and salt, it is astounding how the taste of the ingredients and the skill of the baker shine in each one of these breads. Its sweet breads are also famous, but out of all these sweet breads, the cornet is hugely popular, thanks to the texture of the custard that is only filled into the crispy pie upon ordering. Among its everyday breads, the pain chou with a taste of escargot butter on potatoes and bacon has been quite a hit. You must try the taste that people are lining up for.
2. eze bleu
Eze bleu is a rather small shop that is filled with a wide array of breads and pastries. Its owner, who was impressed with the taste of authentic French breads and decided to learn how to bake, created a rich line-up of breads, from the standard baguette and other hard breads, up to sweet breads, bagels, and sandwiches. The sandwiches in this bakery come in two types using either sliced soft bread or baguette, and a wide variety of fillings are available depending on the season. The soft-type sandwich has a fine balance between the fluffiness of the bread and the texture of the fillings. This bakery’s most famous item is the Bacon Spice, which uses a slice of French bread topped with lots of cubed bacon, cheese and black pepper. The crispy bread and large amount of bacon, thick cheese, and spicy flavor will without a doubt get you addicted to it!
2. eze bleu
SIZUYAPAN was produced by Kyoto’s long-established bakery Sizuya as a bakeshop that is dedicated to anpan (round soft bread filled with red bean paste called anko in the center). It is a sophisticated shop even when viewed from the stylish anpan design on its packaging, so its anpan has become quite popular as a present or souvenir. The types of breads sold in this bakeshop vary depending on the season, but it always has around 10 variants on display. On top of the staples OGURA that has Tanba-Dainagon tsubuan (chunky anko) inside white bread and the MATCHA that has red beans pickled in syrup and matcha paste inside matcha-flavored bread, this bakeshop’s other bestsellers are their unique original anpan such as the masterpiece KUROMAME YUZU that is filled with a mix of black beans, yuzu citrus, and koshian (smooth anko) inside the dough that is kneaded with sake lees. The CINNAMON, which has mochi and cinnamon-flavored anko inside, has also become famous among women. With the freshness in all its baked goods that will make you feel like eating a Japanese dessert given their refined sweetness and moist palatability, the breads here at SIZUYAPAN are perfect for food souvenirs.
4. Maruki Seipan-jo
Maruki Seipan-jo continues to operate in a machiya, a traditional type of residence, since it opened in 1947. Inside this retro bakery, the wide range of breads and pastries on display on the glass shelves are sold in a face-to-face fashion. Sliced, sweet, everyday, and other simple breads that have been eaten in Japan since long ago are lined up on the shelves, but one of the most famous of its breads is the roll pan, which is koppepan (a bread similar to hotdog bun) with filling in the middle. Of these roll pans, the biggest bestseller is the ham roll. It’s really just a simple sandwich of shredded cabbage and ham in bread with a mayonnaise spread, but people are raving that, “the combination of the slightly sweet bread, cabbage, and ham will make you want to eat it several times tanks to its nostalgic feeling.” Aside from these breads, there are many other roll pans that could be quite filling, such as the ones with croquettes, omelettes, sausage, and more. This bakeshop is recommended to anyone who wants a taste of the simple breads that continue to be loved in Japan.
4. Maruki Seipan-jo
Established in 1913, the time-honored bakery Shinshindo is one of the most popular bakery chains in Kyoto. There are 12 restaurants, cafes, and bakeries under the Shinshindo brand all over Kyoto. This bakery is constantly filled with more than 100 types of breads on its displays, including French, sweet, and everyday breads, as well as sandwiches, with the retro baguette "1924" representing its standard and most popular bread. Shinshindo is also known as the first shop to bake and sell French breads in Japan, and today it has gained steady popularity for the firm sensation of the taste of wheat while keeping the original simplicity of its flavors. One of its services is the “Bread Service,” an all-you-can-eat bread service at the branches in Kitayama, Sanjo Kawaramachi, Fuchomae, and Teramachi that are run as both bakery and restaurant. As a service that comes when you order hamburger, spaghetti and other main dishes, this service will have the staff bring a basket filled with many types of breads to your table. From their standard breads to seasonal pastries, this is a bakery that people who love bread just won’t be able to resist.
Don’t you feel like eating bread now? You should not go to Kyoto only to experience the spirit of Japanese aesthetics, but also to relish the breads and pastries that continue to taste better thanks to this bakery battleground!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.