In this article, we'll be looking at a half-day course around the awesome Ichijoji area!
Making up the greater part of North-eastern Kyoto City, the Ichijoji area is known as one of the great ramen battlegrounds of Kyoto.
Including the Higashioji-dori avenue, the Ichijoji area is home to an endless string of ramen shops that, when you walk around, really give you a sense of just how fierce the competition in the area is.
Ichijoji has come to be known as the ramen capital of Kyoto and, in recent years, has drawn ramen lovers from all around Japan and the globe.
However, Ichijoji isn't all about ramen. It's also home to a plethora of worthwhile spots, including its wonderful, locally beloved cafes and shops and Shisen-do Temple known for its beautiful garden.
In this article, two of Sharing Kyoto's Kyoto mad writers, Shin and Sakurako, will be highlighting the magic of the area as they show you around Ichijoji.
Before we get into the route itself, we first want to cover how to get to Ichijoji.
As Ichijoji covers the north-eastern outskirts of Kyoto City, you’ll likely have to use public transport to get there – we recommend the train. While you’ll have to change to the Eizan Electric Railway at Demachiyanagi Station, there are plenty of signs, so the transfer should go smoothly.
While the bus is an option, it takes quite a bit of time and stops can be confusing, so it’s not recommended.
▶Train: 3 Transfers: Fare: ¥630｜Travel Time: approx. 35 minutes
JR Nara Line (for Nara) – Kyoto Station–Tofukuji Station: ¥220｜3 minutes
Keihan Main Line – Tofukuji Station–Demachiyanagi Station: ¥200｜ 15 minutes
Eizan Electric Railway Main Line – Demachiyanagi Station–Ichijoji Station: ¥210｜5 minutes
Downtown Kyoto (Shijo-kawaramachi)
▶Train: 2 Transfers: Fare: ¥410｜Travel Time: approx. 20 minutes
Keihan Main Line – Gion Shijo–Demachiyanagi Station: ¥200
Eizan Electric Railway – Demachiyanagi Station–Ichijoji Station: ¥210
▶Bus: Fare: ¥230｜Travel Time: approx. 45 minutes
Shijo-kawaramachi Bus Stop – Kyoto City Bus No. 5: ¥230
For more info on the Shijo-Kawaramachi Kyoto City Bus stops, see the link below.
Shijo-Kawaramachi bus stop guide: https://sharing-kyoto.com/See-Do/magazine/td008354
You can’t go to Ichijoji and not eat ramen. As Ichijoji has one of Kyoto’s most highly competitive ramen scenes and is home to some of the best ramen in the city, the ramen’s nothing if not worth a try. Hop in line for lunch at one of the many popular ramen shops and fuel up for the adventure lying ahead!
As the closer it is to lunchtime, the longer the lines, we recommend getting to restaurants early. If you’re visiting on the weekend or a public holiday, then aim for at least an hour before lunchtime.
Shin’s Choice – Takayasu
My recommended ramen shop is Chuka-soba Takayasu.
Takayasu specializes in tonkotsu ramen but also serve an amazing paitan ramen made with pork and chicken stock.
While the creamy soup is flavorful and packed with umami, it's also got a relatively light after taste. This is definitely one bowl of ramen that you won't get tired of eating.
In addition to the restaurant's signature "Chuka-soba" ramen, I also recommend trying the stewed beef tendon topped "Suji-ramen."
The reason for Takayasu's popularity isn't just its delicious ramen.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with their ramen, Takayasu's fried chicken karaage also boasts a tremendous following of its own.
What's so special about this karaage? It's sheer size!
One piece of Takayasu's karaage is about the size of your fist.
And bitting into the curry-flavored crispy batter, you're met with a flood of meaty, chickeny, delicious juices.
While the karaage can be ordered separately, Takayasu also offers a mammoth set of ramen, karaage and rice.
Also, if you can't eat it all, there's the option to get your karaage in a doggy bag togo.
However, you can't leave any rice in your bowl, so when you order, make sure to tell the staff how much you're sure you can eat.
Article on Takayasu: https://sharing-kyoto.com/eat_Takayasu
Sakurako’s Choice – Gokkei
I, Sakurako’s recommended ramen shop is “Gokkei.”
Menya Gokkei is a famous ramen shop that’s become the face of Ichijoji.
Why so famous, you ask? Well, because you can have bafflingly thick, creamy, gloopy ramen there!
And yes, it’s just as thick as it looks!
The menu at Gokkei is simple, you have four choices; Tori-daku, Aka-daku, Kuro-daku and Sakana-daku - with Tori-daku being the mainstay.
While you may be a tad freaked out by what the ramen looks like at first, Gokkei is a hugely popular ramen shop in Ichijoji and boasts constant lines. And it takes only a mouthful to realize why.
The nearly solid (not exaggerating) soup goes perfectly with the light aroma of the chicken.
One of the most frightening things about this ramen is despite how rich and creamy it is, you simply can't stop yourself from going back in for more.
As the ramen is just as heavy as it looks, make sure to go on an empty stomach.
If you're a bigger fan of light ramen, then this might be a little too heavy for you. However, if you're an all-around fan of ramen, then this ramen is definitely worth a try even just once.
After filling up on ramen, take a stroll east down Ichijoji's shopping street, Manshuin Michi. This quaint street is chock-full of cool shops beloved by the locals.
Shin’s Choice – Keibunsha Ichijoji Store
While this street is packed with charming wee shops, there's one place that I want everyone to visit on this street; the outstanding Kyoto bookshop "Keibunsha!"
Operating under the concept of "a select shop celebrating books and everything related," Keibunsha offers a huge selection of books carefully selected by their staff and various book related goods.
Distinguishing themselves from other book stores, Keibunsha has been recognized for the way their space showcases the enriching quality of a life with books.
The UK's Guardian Magazine also selected Keibunsha for its list of "The World's 10 Best Bookshops."
The moment you step foot inside Keibunsha, you're met with the store's unique vibe.
The quiet, relaxed atmosphere of the store, the wafting smell of books and the people enjoying newfound encounters with the hordes of titles that line the shelves, all provide a visceral sense of the magic that is Keibunsha.
Inside the store's walls, there's also a floor dedicated to book-related things, an event space and even an art gallery.
Even if you can't read Japanese, there's still plenty to enjoy here, so I highly recommend giving it a visit!
Article on Keibunsha Ichijoji Store
Sakurako’s Choice – Ritendo
Finally, making it east of Ichijoji Station, my recommended store is “Ritendo.”
Ritendo is a stationery store that sells cool note pads and writing paper that use a method printing hardly ever seen today, "letterpress."
Owner of Ritendo and graphic designer, Murata became absolutely captivated by letterpress printing.
The result of the marriage between Murata's sense of design and the retro technology that is letterpress printing, Riten first opened after Murata took on a letterpress printing machine that he realized, with a bit of tinkering, he could make good use out of.
You'll probably never have many opportunities to see a letterpress printing machine that uses Japanese characters like hiragana, so Ritendo can be an amazing place for finding unique souvenirs.
Take the time while moving between sightseeing spots to drop by!
Article on Ritendo: https://sharing-kyoto.com/shop_Ritendo
In addition to ramen shops and the shopping street, another place you’ll definitely want to visit in Ichioji is the Shisen-do Temple.
For more info on the Shisen-do Temple, see the article below.
Article on Shisen-do: https://sharing-kyoto.com/see_Shisen-do
If you follow the road with Keibunsha and Ritendo directly east, you’ll arrive at Shisen-do Temple, famous for housing one of Kyoto’s most magnificent gardens. The temple is about a 10-minute walk from the Eizan Electric Railway’s Ichijoji Station.
Sitting behind the entrance is a beautifully Japanese-esque area that includes a bamboo enclosed path leading to the temple. If you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to the sound of the wind as it rushes through the leaves of the tall bamboo trees and echoes across the tranquil path. If there aren’t many people around, stop in the middle of the path and take some time to bask in the beautiful surroundings.
From here, head inside the temple grounds toward the garden. The garden at Shisen-do Temple is a Japanese karesansui rock garden, meaning that it utilizes rocks and sand as forms of expression.
The garden at Shisen-do Temple is said to have originally been made as a private garden for the Edo period scholar Jozan Ishikawa. Because of this, the garden offers a not too overly spacious and compact traditional landscape. While the garden may be small, your heart will instantly be stolen away by the natural beauty and feeling of comfort unique to Japanese gardens.
There’s something else that this garden is know for, it’s “shishiodoshi.”
Shishiodoshi are bamboo garden fixtures that use flowing water to send sounds through the garden. When the water fills the bamboo tube...
It tips over and empties, leaving the hollow tube to spring back up. When it does this, the bottom bamboo hits stone on the ground and makes the shishiodoshi’s signature hollow clanking sound. While shishiodoshi are often seen in Japanese gardens, the one at Shisen-do Temple is said to be the oldest in Japan.
The hollow echo of the bamboo sits in stark contrast to the stillness of its surroundings, helping to create an ambience unique to Japanese gardens.
Another draw of the garden is the many faces it takes throughout the year. While you can expect to find the vivid colors of beautiful azaleas (Rhododendron indicum) in May and June, November brings the fiery colors of Japanese maples. This garden is a fantastic place to visit, regardless of whether you’ve already been or not. So if you’re looking for somewhere to sit back and enjoy the tranquil, reserved atmosphere of Kyoto, then there’s no place like the Shisen-do Temple.
After leaving the Shisen-do Temple, you should be about ready to take a break and rest your feet.
And of course, Ichijoji is packed with lovely wee cafes perfect for chilling out at as well!
Shin’s Choice: Mushiyashinai
My recommendation is “Mushiyashinai,” a café offering soy milk-based sweets!
This café is known for being the world’s first soy milk-based patisserie. Mushiyashinai grow and use their own soybeans and offer a range of delicious, yet healthy, soy milk-based treats.
In addition to indoor seating, Mushiyashinai also offers outdoor terrace seating as well. So if the weather’s alright, then I recommend relaxing in the cool breeze with your delicious dessert of choice.
In the display case inside, you’ll find rows of little delicious-looking cute cakes all fighting for your attention. If you can’t decide which to choose, then my recommendation is the “Petit Mushiyashi Nabe.” This cute dessert crams both cake and Japanese pudding à la mode in a single tiny pot.
Mushiyashinai also offers a ton of awesomely unique soy milk-based drinks too, so I highly recommend getting something to accompany your dessert too.
Article on Mushiyashinai: https://sharing-kyoto.com/eat_Mushiyashinai
Sakurako’s Choice: Ichijoji Nakatani
How about a sweet treat and something warm to drink to finish your Ichijoji adventure?
Just down the road from the Shisen-do Temple is “Ichijoji Nakatani,” my recommended café.
Sporting a traditional Japanese exterior, this shop offers everything from Japanese and western sweets to tea, coffee and matcha! In addition to their lineup of treats, Ichijoji Nakatani also has a decent food menu as well.
The thing you absolutely must try is Ichijoji Nakatani's signature dish, the "Kinugoshi Tiramisu." The mild aroma of matcha and perfect level of sweetness makes this light and fluffy Japanese-style tiramisu just what your travel fatigued bones were looking for.
In addition, you can also enjoy traditionally bamboo leaf wrapped *dechi-yokan and seasonally exclusive things too, so make sure to give the menu at the front of the store a good once over!
*yokan are jellied dessert made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar
Article on Ichijoji Nakatani: https://sharing-kyoto.com/eat_Ichijoji-Nakatani
After resting up at one of the above cafes, the clock should say 5-ish.
While sticking to our route and enjoying all the unique shops that the Ichijoji shopping street has to offer is great, since you've come to the ramen capital of Kyoto, sitting down for another bowl of noodles wouldn't be a bad idea either. How you enjoy Ichijoji is completely and totally up to you!
Below we've compiled a map of the places we visited in this article, so definitely take a look and get to hunting for more hidden treasures in Ichijoji!
Ichijoji Half-day Course Google Maps Link
|Shin[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|