The second part of our trip to Japan took us to Kyoto which we both said had a similar feel to Adelaide with 1.5million people, generally laid out on a grid and easy to get around. It certainly was very different to the crowds and fast pace of Tokyo life. We did manage to see a few real Geishas on the backstreets of Kyoto at night time but we didn’t take photos of them as I had read they get harassed by tourists now and aren’t really into it. This photo above was of a couple in traditional dress, taken in the Higashiyama district, a beautiful area on the edge of Kyoto running along the base of the Eastern Higashiyama Mountains. It has lots of beautiful temples, gardens and architecture and is worth spending half a day wandering around. The public transport system isn’t as easy to use as Tokyo (and a lot of it isn’t covered on the JR pass) so we hired bikes for one day which was a great way to see Kyoto.

This is Pontocho Street, a narrow alley running between Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of the Kamo River, in downtown Kyoto. There are rows and rows of restaurants in traditional wooden houses and this is where we saw a few Geishas.

Agedashi Tofu, dining at one of the Yakitori Bars on Pontocho Street.

Karaage Chicken.

Beef & Spring Onion Yakitori – these were delicious and a nice change from chicken!

Having a break on our bicycle day with a green tea & chestnut ice cream – the chestnut was the best!

One night for dinner we went to a traditional soba noodle restaurant that has been around for over 300 years. They make their soba noodles fresh every morning. We got there about 7 at night not long before they close, I think it might be more of a lunch restaurant but it was still fantastic.

Misoka-an Kawamichi-ya
Sanjo agaru, Fuyacho-dori, Nakagyoku
A few minute walk from the Sanjo Shopping Arcade and 5-10 minute walk from the top of Pontocho Street.

Soba Noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are very good for you with a high amount of protein which gives them a hearty texture. Read more about them at our glossary here or if you are in the mood to eat some yourself, try our Soba Noodle Salad Recipe. They serve their soba quite plain in Japan, with a dipping sauce on the side. We ordered the Tenzaru Soba: cold noodles and they were very tasty, cooked perfectly with the right amount of firmness still which was probably helped by not dousing them in sauce until you are about to eat them… a tip I might use at home! We got ours with a serve of tempura prawns and veg on the side which were light and crisp and a perfect accompaniment.

We also had the Kamo-namba Soba which was noodles in a sweet broth with chicken and welsh onions.

We visited the very famous Bamboo Grove in the Arashiyama district. After a quick ramen lunch on the cute little cobbled main street, we walked through the zen gardens and temple, Tenryu-ji, which opens out on the bamboo grove path. I’ve been told the bamboo forest is famous for featuring in a scene in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and while it was a bit smaller then we expected, it was very beautiful.

This small restaurant was a side street just off Pontocho Street and featured a Hot Stone Grill where they cooked the food in front of you at your table with a few different dipping sauces. It had a great atmosphere and the food was really delicious… we even got a healthy serve of vegetables. The wine was also well priced and not too bad, mostly from America and France.

Issian Pontocho
178-3 Zaimokucho, Higashikiyacho Sanjo Kudaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Trip Advisor has a map showing the location of this restaurant.

Delicious whole prawns.

Chicken Meatballs.

Thigh and breast chicken.


Not too far from Pontocho, parallel to Shijo Dori (and inbetween Kawaramachi & Karasuma Stations) is the Nishiki Market. I was really looking forward to visiting and while it was not exactly what we expected, it was still really interesting. I assumed there would be quite a bit of fresh produce and stalls with ready to eat foods but it had a lot of pickled & fermented vegetables and other ingredients for cooking. There were however a few nice gift style stores and a really good Japanese Knife store to pick up a few souvenirs.

Colourful Japanese salads.

We got these little omelette things from a stall making egg rolls to use in sushi. They were filled with sweet shallots and were the closest thing we could get to breakfast at the markets!

Pickled and fermented veg.

Little sushi soft toys.

And soft toy cakes.

After our market trip we stopped off at a tiny little ramen bar tucked away in an alley where we had some delicious Ramen in a nutty miso style broth, a little bit like a satay flavour.

We really loved Japan and apart from the obvious language barrier, the very polite people made it a very pleasant and generally easy place to travel. As you can see, the food was a big highlight for us and I after writing up these two posts I can’t wait to get into my own kitchen and cook up some Japanese food.

If you missed Part 1 of our Japan Trip: Tokyo, you can view it here.

And if you are craving a bit of Japanese Food now too, check out a couple of recipes we have on our blog here.

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3 Responses to Japan Food Adventures – Part 2 – Kyoto

  1. Vanessa says:

    Absolutely stunning photos! I think I’m going to have to run off and make your soba noodle salad to satisfy the craving I now have for noodles after viewing this….and perhaps book a ticket to Japan!

  2. Yes good idea, go book your tickets!! Or maybe just cook some noodles for now!

  3. di from the culinary library says:

    The agedashi tofu looks fantastic prue, makes me feel hungry. I have a tub of silken tofu in the fridge so will have to make some today.

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