[Latest Edition] 5 Restaurants Along the Kamo River Where You Can Experience Kawadoko Dining
The noryo-yuka decks that stand above rivers and other bodies of water allow revelers to relax in the refreshing breeze while taking in some seasonal food and drink. They are a classic way to enjoy the humid Kyoto summer. This article will introduce you to 5 great restaurants situated along the banks of the Kamo River where you can experience this phenomenon first-hand.
What are the noryo-yuka of Kamo River?
The popular noryo-yuka are synonymous with the Kyoto summer, in which decks are set up above the surface of the river at the backs of local restaurants so that customers can leisurely enjoy the summer breeze while forgetting about the brutal heat. The noryo-yuka along the Kamo River, as well as those in the town of Kibune and village of Takao, are widely known, with each having their own unique manifestation of this type of over-water terrace. The noryo-yuka on the Kamo River have a particularly long history, commencing at the beginning of the 17th century, when it was already available for people to enjoy the whole year round.
Every year, the Kamo River noryo-yuka decks are in place from May 1st until September 30th, and are particularly spectacular due to the wealth of different restaurants attached to them. Located between Nijo and Gojo on the western bank of the Kamo River, the terraces stretch across four different areas: Kami-kiyamachi, Pontocho, Saiseki and Shimo-kiyamachi. They offer visitors a feast of delights, from local Kyoto food to Korean BBQ, Chinese food, and Italian.
It is easy to get to the Kamo River noryo-yuka area via the following Kyoto City Bus stops: Kawaramachi Gojo, Shijo Kawaramachi, and Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae.
※The terraces are normally only open at night, however, they are also open for lunch during May and September.
This year (2019) only, some restaurants will open from April 27th.
This newly renovated restaurant, which formerly operated as a tea house, boasts more than 100 years of history and is tucked away in the backstreets of the geisha district in Pontocho. It maintains the look of the old tea house on the inside, giving rise to a modest interior and relaxed atmosphere in which patrons can take a load off while enjoying a bite to eat.
The luxurious and expertly crafted Kyo Kaiseki (from 5,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)) is made from the most specially curated ingredients. It looks so refreshing that you may just forget about the summer heat. Another must-eat is the Botan Nabe (wild boar hotpot) (from 5,500 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)). This famous dish consists of wild boar directly delivered from the hunter and prepared with Kyoto white miso.
Inayoshi leverages the most fastidiously curated Kyoto beef and vegetables to create the finest in French course cuisine. This restaurant is absolutely uncompromising in everything from the ingredients to the tableware and presentation, giving rise to a full and refined menu, as well as a beauty that will leave you releasing a sigh of delight. The popular Inayoshi Course (from 8,000 JPY (excl. both tax and a noryo-yuka seat charge of 1,000 JPY)) allows you to choose your own main dish. There is also a wide range of wine dishes, which you can match with your meal.
This highly recommended restaurant will let you experience the flow of the Kamo River below you and the picturesque sight of Higashiyama in the distance as you enjoy your meal.
Hanameguri features creative takes on food, taking inspiration from both Japanese and Chinese cuisine made using local vegetables and the best in seasonal produce. The seats on the decks are horigotatsu (sunken kotatsu table), so even those who are uncomfortable sitting on cushions can relax and enjoy their food. The recommended plan at this restaurant is the Utage Kaiseki Course (5,800 JPY (incl. tax)) which can be ordered on the spot without a reservation. Each dish, which is seasoned lightly in Kyoto-style, is served one dish at a time, which is typical of Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese course cuisine). This way, you'll be able to enjoy your conversation while tucking into your food.
Robin is a 150-year-old renovated Machiya townhouse located in Pontocho that serves traditional Japanese food. It retains the distinct look of an old townhouse and serves a plethora of seasonal vegetables to offer customers true Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine. The most specially curated ingredients from around Japan are carefully prepared to create the most colorful and beautifully presented meals. They are so visually stunning that you may even feel bad about eating them. One must-eat is the 8-dish Satsuki Course (7,000 JPY (excl. tax and seating charge of 500 JPY (reservation is necessary))). Enjoying your meal while taking in such breathtaking scenery will surely provide you with an unforgettable memory from your trip.
This restaurant prides itself on using the best in local ingredients, from the vegetables to the fish and even the salt, to create Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine bursting with a seasonal flavor. Retaining the look of the modest teahouse it was in early years, it has been expertly reborn as a tea ceremony arbor. From the terraces installed to the rear of the premises, you will be able to see both the Kamo River and the scenery of Higashiyama. The top picks at this restaurant are based around Kaiseki cuisine using the best in seasonal ingredients, such as the Noryo-Yuka Kaiseki Plan (from 7,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)) and the Hamo Kaiseki (10,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)) which offers different arrangements of hamo (pike conger), a popular staple of the Kyoto summer. There is simply nothing better than sitting above the flowing Kamo River while enjoying the refreshing breeze and a delicious meal.
The noryo-yuka are a classic way to spend your time in Kyoto. If you happen to be in the area during the summer, then be sure to pay these decks a visit. They are sure to become a great memory from your trip!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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