Mar. 17, 2017 UPDATE
Yuka - Outdoor Riverside Dining in Sunset and Night of Kiyamachi
Part 3

A Pleasant Walk Through Ponto-cho and Kiyamachi (7-9 p.m.)

After about a 3-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station, you will reach Ponto-cho. The amount of people gathered in Ponto-cho is no less than of the nearby busy area of Kawaramachi Street. Although Ponto-cho is tightly spaced, it doesn’t make you feel suffocated at all, thanks to the red lanterns and the orange light from the restaurants gently illuminating the street.

While walking down Ponto-cho, you will see a glimpse of dark and narrow alleyways. The alleyways will leads to the west side of Ponto-cho to another area called Kiyamachi. There are buildings in the area that are over 200 years old and some are registered as cultural assets. In contrast, there are modern and stylish bars that opened just few years ago. There probably is not a place elsewhere in Kyoto that will satisfy those who love to drink as much as this place does. First, walk through Ponto-cho to see and feel the illuminating night of Kyoto full of traditional Japanese feel, and then head over to Kiyamachi.
Let’s Get Lost In Ponto-cho
Pontocho
Ponto-cho is located near downtown Kyoto, and it consists of a street that stretches 500 meters from north to south. The area can be entered from Shijo Street, one of the main streets of Kyoto.

The start of Ponto-cho was during Edo period (1603 - 1868). Same as with the culture of yuka, or riverside dining, the root of the culture of Ponto-cho is “omotenashi”.

Ponto-cho had been developed as shops continued to pop up for travelers to take a break from their journey on the boat that ran up and down the Takase River located right beside. The first shop in the area was established in 1712. Ponto-cho has been a place for travelers to take a break during a tiring journey since 300 years ago.

Some restaurants have a motto of “The regulars are you, the travelers” or in Japanese “Jorenkyaku ha tabibito no anata,” from which you can understand how welcoming this area is to travelers.
Pontocho
Ponto-cho is narrow and often times very crowded. Plus, if you are visiting for the first time, you may get lost deep into its atmosphere. It’s fine even if you get lost, that’s part of the fun. As you walk down Pont-cho, you will be approaching a variety of eateries, lights from the lanterns, maiko and geiko who are exiting from restaurants, and people walking with smiles on their faces. We hope that you experience this part of Kyoto that you won’t see anywhere else.

It may be because of the hot summer temperature, people often feel thirsty when walking down Ponto-cho. Although there are many drinking places in Ponto-cho, we recommend Kiyamachi because it’s an area where you will find restaurants and bars where they serve delicious foods and drinks. The area is filled with a variety of types of restaurants and bars like classic izakaya, as well as stylish bistros and modern bars. There are things you can enjoy in Kiyamachi that is not possible to do so by just walking down Ponto-cho.
In Kyoto, Drinkers Gather in Kiyamachi
Renkon-ya
Renkon-ya
Renkon-ya is a retro izakaya offering home-style cooking of Kyoto prepared by the owner chef. Renkon-ya opened in 1950 by renovating an old machiya house (traditional houses in Kyoto). The interior is decorated with classic items that can be considered antiques by now, like rotary dial-style phones and old-school Japanese tables. This charming ambience will make you feel like slipping back in the old days. The dishes are cooked simply and the taste goes very well with Japanese sake.
Tako Nyudo
Tako Nyudo
Tako Nyudo’s specialty, akashi-yaki, looks like takoyaki, but it’s not exactly takoyaki. Boiled octopus pieces are in each ball of fluffy outer layer made with batter using plenty of eggs. You will eat them by dipping them in broth with great flavors of dashi and ginger. The sweet taste of egg batter and octopus with a nice bite to it makes them a fascinating dish. Other menu items include traditional Japanese dishes that have been eaten since the older days. We hope that you will enjoy some beer or Japanese sake along with many local customers who often stops by after their work.
Standing BAR Kyasa
Standing BAR Kyasa
Standing BAR Kyasa is a bar located deep inside the first floor of a building. The bar is always crowded with people although the space only holds about 15 individuals. Because the distance between each seat is close, we hope that you will get a chance to communicate with other customers. The main drink at the bar is shochu, but there are other drinks available such as Japanese sakes, beers, wines, and fruit wines. The items are reasonable; price for the drinks starts at 300 while the price for food items start at 100. They use pay when ordering system, so please order and pay cash at the counter.
Rock Bar ING
Rock Bar ING
The bar is owned by an avid fan of the rock band, Rolling Stones. Rock music is playing inside the bar with walls filled with music-related posters. It’s a popular spot among many people from abroad for the ambiance immersed in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. The drink choices are excellent with Japanese beers, sake, plum wines, whiskeys, and cocktails. They have food items to snack on like edamame beans. We definitely want you to check this place out.
ONZE
ONZE
Onze is a place where you can enjoy delicious French dishes in a very relaxing atmosphere. Food items include sausages, beef steaks, and traditional dishes using seafood like mussels. The choices for wines are excellent too and offered at reasonable prices from 500 per glass. It seems that many people from France living in Kyoto often visit ONZE. Their business hours are quite long which is from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.
With the above-recommended places to go in the historical Ponto-cho area and Kiyamachi area where you can have some satisfying drinks, we are sure that you can enjoy a unique atmosphere in the historical Ponto-cho as well as have some satisfying drinks in the Kiyamachi area. Let’s finish the night out in Kyoto before going back to the hotel by jumping into the alleyways between Ponto-cho and Kiyamachi.
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