Jun. 30, 2016 UPDATE
Yuka - Outdoor Riverside Dining in Sunset and Night of Kiyamachi
Part 1

5pm-7pm/Head to a Yuka Dining During Sunset!

5pm-7pm/Head to a Yuka Dining During Sunset!
As the sun sets down, the sky will gradually be filled with orange color, something that certainly cannot be man-made. This beautiful color is reflected on the quietly running Kamo River, and it spreads beautifully into the scenery. We hope that you will also witness the scenery full of charms in a riverside yuka dining.

From May to September, restaurants on the riverside open for lunch time in addition to dinner time. It’s nice to dine while looking over glistening Kamo River, but it’s also recommended to enjoy it during sunset around 5pm to 7pm. The temperature outside will be comfortable, and you will be experiencing a special day that is something out of the ordinary. When the sun starts to set, cool air begins to flow in from the mountains that are far on the other side of Kamo River and lowers the temperature. We want you to experience this scenery in which you can enjoy a meal and a drink all while the sky is changing its orange color into deep blue.

Yuka dinings are set along the Kamo River located in the middle of busy downtown area where people can be seen hustling and bustling around. But at the same time, it’s a place where you can enjoy nature. We hope that you will be thrilled to be in this special atmosphere that can only be enjoyed in Kyoto.

*The names of these riverside dining differs between locations. Yuka along the river bank of Kamo River are called Yuka (床), Nouryouyuka (納涼床), or Kawayuka (川床). In Kifune or Takao areas, which are located in the north part of Kyoto, the same type of riverside dinings are called Kawadoko (川床). In Kawadoko, people often enjoy meals surrounded by natural green scenery.
Yuka Was Made This Way
Isn’t yuka just a terrace seating? Most people would wonder about that exact question and believe that it is just a terrace seating. But no, yuka is not exactly what many people think. Yuka has a deep and long history and is part of a unique Japanese tradition. First, we will explain what yuka exactly is.

Yuka started developing as enrichment to the “omotenashi” culture where rich businessmen would welcome guests and give hospitality during the summer season.
This story goes back to about 400 years ago. Even during the time when a famous samurai, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, was active in Kyoto, the temperature during summer season in Kyoto was extremely high. People 400 years ago must have thought that because guests would come from far away, they should at least feel comfortable by cooling down by the river. From that thought, yuka started to develop when people began to build seats over shallow water for sightseeing and tea serving.

Subsequently, during the Edo Shogunate era of Ieyasu Tokugawa (1603~), the amount of tea houses, which was something similar to salons in Europe, that would set up yuka increased to about 400. These forms of business slowly begin to be standardized in the area.
Then the Edo Period (1603 - 1868) came. It’s the era when the country began to be open to the world after the arrival of Mathew C. Perry, who served as a naval officer best known for his expeditions to Japan. Yuka culture further developed and the designs of them began to be closer to the current style.

During this era, yuka regularly came out during July and August, and the high-above-ground style that is common now was established. During the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), different shapes of yuka, more than the amount that exists now, were seen. For example, the photo on the right, which was actually photographed back then, shows yuka that was set under Sanjo Ohashi bridge.

Though yuka disappeared at one point due to the event of World War II, thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of local people, yuka was able to shine again. And now, izakaya bars and kaiseki restaurants line up the street totaling to about 100 of them opening for yuka dining, and yuka period extended to be offered from May to September. Some places are also open for lunch in May and September. Yuka have become one of Kyoto's summer traditions.
Pleasant Yuka Preserved by the People of Kyoto
Making a reservation is a must!
Although you may have the extreme urge to visit and enjoy yuka, you may also feel a bit worried about it at the same time if you have never been there before. It takes some effort to try something new, especially in a foreign land. Hoping that we can be of a support, below are some of the rules and manners that should be recognized before visiting one.

There are 4 major points that we want to cover.
1Making a reservation is a must!
During the seasons when yuka comes out, the restaurants are filled with guests from all over Japan and abroad. Often times you will find restaurants that are packed even on the weekdays. To avoid disappointments of not being able to find an open restaurant, make reservations beforehand by asking the concierge at your hotel or go to an English website that you can make reservations on.
2Even if it rains, no on-the-day-of cancelations are allowed!
Canceling your reservations gives the restaurants extreme trouble. Even if the weather doesn’t hold up, the restaurant will be holding you a table indoors.
3It’s better to have socks on
In many occasions when entering the yuka seating, you will be taking off your shoes. On those occasions, being barefoot is informally considered as a bad manner, therefore it’s recommended to have some socks on.
4Be careful when deciding to smoke!
Because yuka is set up outdoors, the smoke from tobacco will flow around to other people close by. Even at yuka where smoking is allowed, please be considerate of others when deciding to smoke.
That’s it for the major rules and manners to follow. As a rank-up experience, wearing a yukata to a yuka dining will be fun. Yukata is a traditional wear made with light fabric that is often worn during the summer season. Spending your time wearing yukata, listening to the sound of running river water, and eating delicious meals are a bonus when it comes to enjoying the delightful charms of Kyoto.

After going through many generations within the past 400 years, yuka culture has also changed quite a bit. But one thing that didn’t change is the solid heart of hospitality, or “omotenashi”. It’s a thought by the people of Kyoto that continued and preserved since 400 years ago believing to make the guests spend their time comfortably to enjoy Kyoto, a city that’s full of charms. In the next part, we will introduce you to some restaurants where you can actually experience the yuka culture.

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