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What to do around Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple: 2 Amazing Restaurants Near the Famous Red Gates!

What to do around Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple: 2 Amazing Restaurants Near the Famous Red Gates!

Date published: 29 January 2020
Last updated: 27 October 2020

Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto is a classic sightseeing spot. After paying your respects at the temple, many love to take a stroll through the stone slopes of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka. I will now introduce some of the favorite noodle and sweets shops enjoyed by locals from amongst the many that align the path.

Yoshimura: Enjoy a Fresh, Tasty Flavor of Hand-made Soba!

Yoshimura, a soba shop with its main location in Arashiyama, buys its noodles directly from domestic producers, and keeps them in controlled low temperatures throughout the year. They do all the production from scratch, so it is a very special kind of soba.

▲Soba noodles purchased nationally from contracted farmers from Hokkaido in the north to Miyazaki in the south can reach as much as 50 tons per year.

There are 4 shops in Kyoto City, right near Sannenzaka, and from these, I decided to visit Yoshimura Kiyomizu-an.

And now, let's check out Yoshimura Kiyomizu-an.

Its quiet atmosphere is completely different from the surrounding area, normally bustling with tourists. This building from the Taisho Era was renovated, but the gate has been preserved since that time. Locals even visit with their guests from other prefectures.

Go through the curtains, and down the corridor with the stove, and enter into a surprisingly spacious area which seats around 70.

Pay attention to the scenery when you head towards the back...

Overlooking Higashiyama from the large window. What a luxurious location! There is a terrace in the garden where you can eat outdoors during the spring and fall, so definitely try to plan a visit for when the weather is nice!

This time, I tried the popular menu item, the Tenzaru Soba (¥2180, tax included).

The ends were crisp, with a firm soba taste that is sure to be the perfect answer to satisfying your hunger. The freshly boiled aroma will definitely stir your appetite.

If you ask me, soba is not just to eat, but to savor. The soba here is ground very finely with a stone mill in order to retain as much of the original scent and flavor as possible.

The best thing about this place is that everything is handmade by artisans. Despite being a shop where up to 1,600 meals can be served in a day during the busy seasons, you will not find a single machine being used.

▲There are approximately 30 craftspeople well-trained in the handicraft and kettle technique responsible for the great taste of Yoshimura.

Great attention is paid to the details of the supporting additions to the soba, such as the homemade soup, natural pickled vegetables, and original Shigaraki wares. The homemade ‘chirimen’- buckwheat seeds - served on top of rice was the perfect way to finish the meal with its gentle, homemade taste.

▲Chirimen (¥640, tax included). You can also buy it over-the-counter, so it makes a great souvenir as well.
  • Yoshimura Kiyomizu-an
    よしむら 清水庵
    • Address 2-208-9 Shimizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
    • Phone Number 075-533-1212
    • Hours: 11:00AM~5:00PM
      *May vary by season
      Closed: N/A

Omen: A Specialty Udon Eaten with Seasonal Vegetables

Now that we've tried the soba, allow me to introduce one of the area’s famous udon shops.

▲The fun and welcoming signboard for Omen

Omen, well-known for its signboard menu, has its main branch near Ginkakuji Temple, and is a shop beloved by all in the area, with some families visiting for as many as four generations.

Kodaiji Temple, which is near to Kiyomizu Temple, is full of tourists as one might expect, but like the main branch, seems to place importance on its laid-back atmosphere.

"Omen" is the name of the udon eaten as the local cuisine of the founder's hometown, in Gunma Prefecture. It is normally eaten with plenty of vegetables and other ingredients. This specialty Omen has been prepared in the Kyoto style.

This style keeps the tradition of using many vegetables and other similar ingredients in the soup, however these seasonal vegetables are rich and colorful, and finely minced to the perfect texture for enjoying with udon noodles.

At the time of my visit it was summer, so the vegetables seen here include spaghetti squash, Japanese ginger, eggplant, cabbage, green onion, dried ginger, spinach, and braised burdock root.

From fall to winter, you can also enjoy sweet potatoes and mushrooms, radish, Chinese cabbage, and more. There is something new to enjoy with every season.

And here we have the Omen noodles, made with 100% domestically produced wheat. Because not just the body of the noodles but the scent and flavor as well are such that can only be found in domestically produced wheat, this is an incredibly important point.

Now to try it out for myself!

I put the sesame and burdock into the soup, then the vegetables little by little, finally add the udon, and have a bite. The fragrance of the sesame, crisp texture of the vegetables, and the noodles, not too hard and not too soft... everything balanced together to create a taste better than what I imagined.

Harmonizing everything is the perfect thickness of the soup. You can change the proportion of soy sauce in the katsuo and kombu broth according to the flavor of the season. It seems that the moisture of the vegetables is also carefully calculated so that the last remaining bit of soup will be thick enough to drink as it is.

▲You can add organic, original, Omen spices if you like.

The elegant atmosphere of the shop with its seasonal flower decorations is another one of the attractions. Enjoy your udon while feeling completely relaxed.

  • Omen Kodai-ji Branch
    名代 おめん 高台寺店
    • Address 358 Masuyacho, Kodaiji-tsu Shimokawara Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
    • Phone Number 075-541-5007
    • Hours: 11:00AM~9:00PM (L.O. 8:30PM)
      Closed: Irregular schedule

No matter what you choose, every taste is carefully crafted with select materials. If you find yourself strolling around Kiyomizu Temple, please give these shops a try!

Text by:Myogaya Nobuhisa

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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