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The Origins of Kyoto Cuisine

From 794 to 1869, Kyoto was home to the Imperial Household. Even today, nearly 3,000 temples and almost 2,000 shrines can be found in the city. Because of this, the culinary traditions handed down through generations of the Emperorís Court, Buddhist monks, and Shinto priests can still be enjoyed today.

Traditional Cuisine

Ryotei restaurants serving Kyoryori style of traditional cuisine known as kaiseki specialize in meals of the highest quality, and are places where Japanese gardens can be enjoyed whilst dining amidst an atmosphere of refined elegance. A lunchtime course starts from around ¥3,000. Evening courses, for which reservations are necessary, start from around ¥10,000. As prices vary greatly between lunchtime and evening courses, it is recommended you check in advance.

Eating out in Kyoto

As in Europe and North America, a great many fast-food restaurants can be found in Kyoto, but if you want to try Japanese food, an izakaya or shokudo (diner) is the place to go for home-style cooking that the locals eat. The places are reasonable, although you should be aware that lunch and evening prices differ. Expect to pay around ¥1,000 for lunch and around ¥3,000 for an evening meal.


This is a Japanese pub. While drinking beer or sake, a wide variety of typical Japanese dishes such as sashimi (raw fish) and yakitori (barbequed chicken), as well as many western dishes with a Japanese slant can be enjoyed here. Izakaya have a red paper lantern hanging outside and so are easily recognizable. Depending on how much you drink you can expect to spend ¥2,500 to ¥5,000 per person.


There are usually shokudo around stations and busy streets where western and Japanese foods can be eaten.  These places are easily identified by the food models in the window.  The easiest thing to order in a shokudo is the lunch set or set menu. This usually consists of a main dish of meat or fish, rice, miso soup, shredded cabbage, and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).  Single items such as donburi (bowl of rice with some topping) or noodles can also be ordered.


  • Serving times are generally: breakfast 7:00am-9:00am, lunch 2:00-2:00pm, dinner 6:00pm-9:00pm.
  • Tips are not necessary. Tea (bancha) is served free of charge.
  • Payment is usually made by taking the bill up to the cash register. Unlike in some Western countries, cash is not left on the table.

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