Sharing Kyoto’s feature articles

In our feature articles we dig deep into the Japanese psyche,
from seasonal topics like cherry blossoms to staples like soba noodles.

Seasonal Kyoto

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The first day of summer in Kyoto
After the cherry blossom season, just when the hot summer is beginning, many people may think of this period as just a time when Kyoto is sleeping and waiting for the jubilant events of Gion Matsuri and Gozan no Okuribi. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and because of this the summers are extremely hot and humid; so much so that you may be tempted to just stay in air-conditioned cafes and restaurants. But after the cherry blossoms, it is time for spring greenery in Kyoto, and there are many fun events and places where you can enjoy the green leaves! The grand play of nature you get to see at Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple; the maple leaves almost shining in vivid shades of green; the cute hydrangea flowers you get to see during Japan’s rainy season, “tsuyu;” the beer gardens sure to be make you refreshed… In the four parts of this article, you can find out about the best ways to spend your summer in Kyoto. I hope this article can be of help to you when you come to Kyoto in summer!
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Yuka - Outdoor Riverside Dining in Sunset and Night of Kiyamachi
The summers in Kyoto are hot, which is why the people of Kyoto have thought of ways to enjoy their summers in cooler ways. One of these ways is yuka, which literally means floor, but which in Kyoto means outdoor riverside dining areas that are set along the Kamo River. Restaurants that have yuka dining are open from May 1 to September 30. Offering both lunch and dinner, but the best time to visit a yuka has to be during sunset, although many of the restaurants are open until 11 p.m. The cool river air and the sky turning to pleasant yellows and fiery reds make you wonder why anyone would like to go to any place but Kyoto.
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Strolling like a local ― Okazaki and Nanzen-ji temple
What is your style when you are on a trip? Some people devote themselves to visiting as many famous sightseeing spots as efficiently as possible, while there are also those who make it their life’s work to discover fantastic, cozy little restaurants tucked away on back streets, not listed in any guidebook, and share them on Facebook. If you most enjoy a leisurely stroll while taking in the sights and local color, relying only on Google Maps, then Kyoto might be the ideal place for you. I will be covering this time the area called Okazaki this time, and there are many spots where you can enjoy gorgeous seasonal scenery, as well as shops and restaurants favored by locals here and there, even though it is a popular sightseeing area. It is also one of Kyoto’s leading areas for art and culture. Even in a hot area like this, there are a number of places that are especially worthy of a trip which I want to cover. In autumn, when Kyoto is at its most beautiful, these include the shrines and temple the locals proudly recommend, local specialties, must-see art spots, and dining along the riverside while taking in the seasonal views. I hope you have a good time walking the streets amid the lush greenery and the sounds of the river. I also hope you have fine weather on that day!

Popular spots

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A complete guide to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Maybe the most famous among the many sightseeing spots in Kyoto is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Many people head to the shrine to see the mysterious sight of the countless torii gates and the many foxes guarding the shrine. But Fushimi Inari Shrine is not only about torii gates and foxes, there is a lot more to the over 1000-year old shrine. By reading this feature article you will get a better sense of what Fushimi Inari Shrine really is about, like: What is Fushimi Inari Shrine’s history like? Why are there shrines all the way up the mountain? Why are there so many foxes at Fushimi Inari Shrine? And why are there so many torii gates? What are the most popular Fushimi Inari Shrine souvenirs? You will find the answers to these questions and more by clicking on the links below:
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Kyoto Station: More than Just a Gateway to Kyoto
This modern station building may surprise you at first glance with a thought of it really being in the old capital city of Japan. The station itself went through a massive remodeling which finished in 1997, and it continues to boom with new shops services service to welcome visitors. As a transportation hub, Kyoto Station is considered a gateway to Kyoto located about 1.5 hours away from Kansai International Airport by train and just 35 minutes away from central Osaka. Many visitors will likely to come across this area at least once during a trip in Kyoto. Some will only zip through here heading out to explore further into the city. However, most convenient services are available here along with countless eateries and shops that you may want to consider staying and spend some time in the area. Basically there are two sides, Hachijo-guchi (Hachijo Street side) and Chuo-guchi (JR central gate side). There are underground passage ways along with many shops and eateries. Take a moment and get to know what is available in Kyoto Station!
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Shopping in Teramachi and Shinkyogoku!
If you look up places to go shopping in Kyoto, you are going to run into Teramachi and Shinkyogoku shopping streets. These streets used to be famous only in Japan, especially among students, but right now they are also famous with visitors from overseas. This is a feature article that will guide you through both of these streets! Sharing Kyoto will tell you which of the old shops are in even to this day, and which of the new ones are worth a visit, and lastly, we even have a shopping report! Join us on our fun trip to Teramachi & Shinkyogoku!

Culture of Kyoto

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Soba and udon have always been loved by the people of Kyoto
Soba and udon noodles are Japanese comfort food. The history of soba and udon in Japan is actually really long, Japanese people have known soba and udon for around one thousand years. I don’t know but maybe it is because of this history that I sometimes just really want to eat soba or udon. I run into a restaurant to taste those fragrant noodles with the delicious dashi soup that goes down so well. I smell the fragrance of the bonito and kelp stock and slurp the noodly deliciousness. Mmm… yummy! I wonder why soba and udon make my heart flutter. In this feature article I am going to find out what makes Japanese people love soba and udon. Of course there are many famous and long-established restaurants in Kyoto. I am going to introduce many long-established restaurants that have been loved by many generations of Kyotoites, but I am also going to establish the latest and hippest in the world of soba and udon. In part two I am going to introduce to you the cool and fashionable way of using soba restaurants as pubs. Drinking at soba restaurants was called “sobayanomi” in Japan 300 years ago. Nowadays many young people don’t even know about “sobayanomi”. But drinking at soba restaurants is not like drinking at pubs, it is cooler. I am going to introduce you the best places to do “sobayanomi” and how to enjoy it to the fullest. Welcome to the profound world of soba and udon. After reading this feature article I am sure you will want to fly to Kyoto and enjoy the fragrance and taste of soba and udon. Let’s all get immersed into the world of soba and udon!
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Extraordinary Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto
What is “Washoku”? When posed with that question, what comes to your mind? Sushi? Tempura? Or ramen? Japanese food comes in many forms. There is a diverse range of popular foods and trendy foods, and Japanese food has also rapidly undergone a myriad of changes in response to the trend of the times. But even so, can new cuisine that have evolved with incorporations of the current culture and trends be really called Japanese food? Does this “Washoku” that was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013 include ramen and curry rice? UNESCO does not define “Washoku” as a reference to the menu itself. Instead, it refers to a hearty, balanced menu that cherishes the four beautiful seasons, respects nature and enjoyed with customs that seek its harmonious coexistence. These spiritual and aesthetic consciousness is a unique culture of Japanese cuisine and this is what was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. In this way, it is precisely this expression of the transitions of the four seasons and respect for the original flavours of the ingredients that make a meal “Washoku”. So, where exactly should one dine at in order to experience the charms of “Washoku”, the traditional food culture of the Japanese people? The answer is none other than Kyoto. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because Kyoto is known as the “Home of Washoku”. On that note, this time’s feature will be about the Washoku restaurants in Kyoto that have been loved in the past and is still loved today. I will write about the following four points to showcase the beauty of Washoku: “Kaiseki cuisine,” traditional Kyoto Washoku that more prominently brings out the allure of Washoku, hot and popular Washoku in Kyoto evolving day by day, Washoku that can be enjoyed lightheartedly, as well as ways to enjoy Sake, the perfect drink to go with Washoku.
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The Best Ways to Find Antiques in Kyoto
What are antiques to you? Are they something to be left in the attic, or do you still use them every day? There are many different ways of looking at antiques, but many people in Japan think of antiques as something you could use every day. In fact there are of course some rare antiques valued in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, and you may feel reluctant to enter the world of shops or people that deal with only those kinds of objects. However, originally in Japan, antiques are not purely decorative objects never to be touched. They are "things that are close at hand every day", to be treasured but also to be carefully and continually used on a daily basis. Of course, the cost is a stretch compared to the crockery and furniture that we can so easily buy. However, considering the cost performance, their color does not fade for 100 or 200 years; on the contrary, antiques that have a long history and are even more rich and tasteful than when they are new will be tens of times better. Food or sake served in antique dishes or cups is delicious. I think that it may be thanks to the hands of many people it has passed through. The hands of the people who carefully made each and every one, the hands of the former owners who carefully used it, and the hands of the people kept it until passing it on to the next owner, it is deeply embued with the memories of various people. Doesn’t something taste more delicious because the thought is subtly conveyed of someone treasuring a particular object? Antiques are truly fascinating. This time, we bring you how to enjoy such "antiques for everyday use". You might wonder "why antiques in Kyoto?", but actually it is “antiques because it’s Kyoto.” The reason is that Kyoto has an abundance of ways to enjoy antiques: two major antique fairs held every month; antique shops that you can enter casually; Teramachi-dori, which is a street famous for art; and Kyoto Grand Antique Fair, the largest antique fair in western Japan. If you take the time to visit Kyoto, why not try touching the antiques of Kyoto? In several parts based on different themes, let’s find out how to enjoy antiques!

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