With a histKyoto'setching back over 1,000 years, Kyoto is an oasis of historically rich stores. Still beloved by locals even now, these longstanding businesses are known for their dedication to maintaining original recipes, while simultaneously offering five-star cuisine and tasty sweets.
Recently, Kyoto has seen many of these longstanding stores open their own cafes. Much of the charm of these cafes is that you can not only enjoy the same incredible omotenashi service of their parent stores but the sweets and delicious other treats in a less formal environment as well.
For those who may feel a little nervous about going to a high-class traditional Japanese restaurant, these cafés provide a relatively casual atmosphere, making them the perfect place to visit before making the dive into the deep end.
This blog will introduce you to Sharing Kyoto's top picks for the best cafes owned and operated by veteran Kyoto businesses.
If you're looking to enjoy a uniquely Kyoto café, or just want to experience the rich culture and history of Kyoto, then these cafés should definitely be on your itinerary.
tubara café is the café of Tsuruya Yoshinobu, a traditional Japanese wagashi confectionery with a history stretching back over 215 years to 1803.
Located beside their parent store, tubara café was opened after the owners of Tsuruya Yoshinobu became anxious about the recent “distancing from wagashi”: a sentiment of general distancing from the traditional Japanese sweets born from the feeling that they are unapproachable and purposefully kept at arm’s length by many.
This anxiety spurred the couple to create a café that would appeal to all ages and allow the flavors of their historical store to be enjoyed in a more laid back setting.
The most popular item at tubara café is their take on Tsuruya Yoshinobu’s signature sweet, the tubara tubara. The tubara café version of these sweets was designed with coffee and tea in mind and feature an interesting base of white sweet bean paste and Italian mascarpone cream cheese called mascarpone-an. The sweets come in three different flavors, yuzu, matcha, and rum raisin.
tubara café offers a range of sweets that help introduce you to the wonders of red bean paste, so if you’re not someone who typically eats Japanese sweets, then we highly recommend trying out tubara café!
Salon de Muge is the café of the 90-year-old Kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi. Opened initially with the desire to have a place where people could enjoy authentic Japanese cuisines in a more relaxed environment, Kikunoi’s Salon de Muge carries a slightly more welcoming and laid back atmosphere than its parent restaurant.
During the day, Salon de Muge offers the authentic Japanese cuisine of a traditional Japanese restaurant, while later, they become a Japanese style café offering specialty Kikunoi sweets. Using seasonally appropriate ingredients, Salon de Muge provides affectionately prepared Japanese cuisine and desserts that skillfully reflect the techniques and specialties of their Michelin starred parent restaurant, Kikunoi.
If you want to enjoy anxiety-free traditional Japanese cuisine or the flavors of refined first-rate sweets in Kyoto, then we highly recommend Salon de Muge.
Opened in 1907 inside a magnificent historical western-style building, Murakami Kaishindo is the oldest confectionery in Kyoto.
Despite being open for over 100 years, this popular seller of baked goods has stuck to the same ingredients and recipes that have seen them through the last century.
While the front of Murakami Kaishindo is lined with cases of delicate handmade baked sweets, the back is now home to a café. In addition to Murakami Kaishindo’s signature baked goods, this café offers a range of exclusive eat-in only desserts as well.
Once living quarters for the family who owned the store, the refurbished cafe space maintains traces of an old Japanese way of living and gives off the warm, comforting feeling of an old familiar home. This homely feeling is just one of the things that draw so many to the old walls of Murakami Kaishindo.
With such a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, this café is great for those who love reading or spending time alone with their thoughts.
For over 200 years, longstanding confectionery Kagizen Yoshifusa has been capturing the hearts and minds of the people of the Gion district with their traditional wagashi sweets.
And with the opening of modern ZEN CAFE, it looks as if they plan to continue this streak.
Tucked away like a hideout behind the famous Hanamikoji Street, sits ZEN CAFE. This cafe offers delicious exclusive Kagizen Yoshifusa traditional Japanese wagashi sweets. While they maintain an air of traditionalism, the wagashi at ZEN CAFE have a very modern charm to them that remains exciting time and time again.
While ZEN CAFE is fantastic in its own right, because the menu contains exclusive sweets from Kagizen Yoshifusa, many fans of the over 200 year old veteran confectionery come specifically for that reason.
Originally a hospital, this café offers an impactfully sleek and primarily white design.
ZEN CAFE is a wonderful place to visit for those who want to try Japanese wagashi sweets with friends or family, however, with a plethora of photography and design books plotted around the café, it’s also a lovely place for those who are into art and design.
If you want to treat yourself a little and enjoy fantastic high quality traditional Japanese sweets in a café with a more mature atmosphere, then ZEN CAFE is your place.
With over 150 years of history, Kaikado is Japan’s oldest handmade tea caddy maker. Sold in the likes of England and France in addition to Japan, Kaikado’s unique tea caddies are loved and treasured by people all over the world.
Owned and operated by Kaikado, Kaikado Café is packed with homages to their parent store. Two of the most prominent examples of this are their tea caddie shaped cheesecakes and glasses used for iced coffee.
Kaikado Café also pays specific attention to the utensils and tools used in their café as well. With pour-over coffee filters from famous Kyoto wire craft maker Kanaamitsuji and barrel-like stands from refined woodworker Nakagawa Mokkougei, to name a few, Kaikado Café has assembled a collection of works from contemporary well-established Kyoto craft makers.
In addition to offering delicious coffee and desserts, this café also offers the opportunity to get up close with the crafts of some of the best craftspeople in Kyoto. If you’re interested in crafts, then we highly suggest checking out Kaikado Café.
|Yumemi[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|