HOME Kansai Kyoto Gion, Kawaramachi, Kiyomizu-dera Temple 11 Must-Try Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera Temple: From Kyoto Cuisine to Traditional Tofu Dishes and Popular Eateries
11 Must-Try Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera Temple: From Kyoto Cuisine to Traditional Tofu Dishes and Popular Eateries

11 Must-Try Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera Temple: From Kyoto Cuisine to Traditional Tofu Dishes and Popular Eateries

Date published: 25 April 2024

Kiyomizu-dera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto with over 1,200 years of history and magnificent architecture. It sits on a tranquil hillside, and its iconic "Kiyomizu Stage" is a must-visit destination. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking natural scenery combined with the beauty of the temple's architecture during cherry blossom and autumn leaf seasons.

When you visit this area, check out our list of 11 must-try restaurants around Kiyomizu-dera.

(Photos: kkday, LIVE JAPAN articles (Top left: Kiyomizu Jyunsei Okabeya, Bottom left: Hanasaki Manjirou, Top right: Akoya Chaya, Bottom right: ARABICA)

Table of Contents
  1. What Types of Eateries Can You Find Around Kiyomizu-dera?
  2. Traditional Kaiseki Cuisine: 3 Recommended Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera
  3. Tofu: 3 Recommended Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera
  4. Tea Houses: 1 Recommendation Near Kiyomizu-dera
  5. Cafés: 2 Recommendations Near Kiyomizu-dera
  6. Walking Snacks and Dessert Shops: 2 Recommendations Near Kiyomizu-dera
  7. Exploring the Charms of Historic Kyoto Around Kiyomizu-dera

What Types of Eateries Can You Find Around Kiyomizu-dera?

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000419
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000419

Throughout the year, Kiyomizu-dera sees a constant stream of visitors from around the globe, making it one of Kyoto's hottest tourist destinations. To reach Kiyomizu-dera, visitors must first stroll down one of the narrow streets known as Ichinenzaka, Ninenzaka, and Sannenzaka.

These paths are gentle slopes lined with souvenir shops and snack stalls, including matcha shops, grilled rice cake shops, and traditional Japanese dessert shops. Sampling authentic Kyoto snacks along the way adds another element of charm to the ascent to the temple. Be sure to refer to the following guide and leisurely explore these approach paths before and after visiting Kiyomizu-dera!

While plenty of budget-friendly choices are found along Ichinenzaka, Ninenzaka, and Sannenzaka, sit-down dining options are relatively limited. For those looking to savor traditional Kyoto kaiseki cuisine, tofu dishes, or udon and soba noodles, it's best to explore the area around Yasaka Shrine and Kodai-ji Temple, where you'll find a wider selection of dining establishments.

Traditional Kaiseki Cuisine: 3 Recommended Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera

Kaiseki cuisine originates from the spiritual and cultural traditions of Japanese Zen temples and boasts a rich, storied history. With its emphasis on showcasing the true essence of ingredients, kaiseki chefs meticulously select fresh seasonal produce, employing exquisite knife skills and refined techniques to create dishes bursting with delicate flavors.

As Kyoto stands as a bastion of Japan's ancient capital and home to numerous temples, it naturally harbors a wealth of traditional kaiseki restaurants, many of which have garnered Michelin acclaim. Whether treating yourself or celebrating a special occasion, reserving a table at a kaiseki restaurant is a must for those seeking an elevated dining experience in Kyoto!

1. Jikishinbou Saiki

Photo: Klook
Photo: Klook

Finding the right dining spot is crucial for an unforgettable Kyoto experience. If you're searching for a restaurant with a stellar reputation, Jikishinbou Saiki, a Michelin-starred Kyoto cuisine restaurant, might be your best bet. The restaurant's acclaim stems from its commitment to using only the highest quality ingredients in every dish.

Saiki prides itself on sourcing locally grown seasonal produce and procuring the freshest vegetables from contracted farmers. Their master chefs spare no effort or time to prepare each dish with the utmost care and expertise.

In addition to dinner, Saiki also offers lunch sets starting from 12,000 yen, allowing guests to enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine with a more relaxed and casual approach.

Hana's Tips:
  • "I believe true culinary excellence goes beyond taste; it should also engage other senses. At Saiki, they offer counter seating where guests can closely observe the master chefs' exquisite skills."
  • "Moreover, each dish is meticulously plated and decorated, creating an artistic and visually stunning dining experience that satisfies not only the palate but also the eyes!"

2. Hanasaki Manjirou

Photo: kkday
Photo: kkday

Located near the Higashiyama ward's Kodai-ji Temple, the Kyoto cuisine specialist Hanasaki Manjirou boasts an exceptional location. With just a 15-minute walk to Kiyomizu-dera and close proximity to Yasaka Shrine and Gion, it's undoubtedly one of the best dining spots for sightseers in Kyoto.

The masterful chef skillfully crafts dishes using seasonal ingredients, such as locally sourced vegetables and tofu from Kyoto Prefecture. In winter, they offer specialties like crab or fugu (blowfish) dishes. Lunch or dinner, guests are guaranteed a leisurely and delightful experience centered on authentic Kyoto kaiseki cuisine!

Hana's Tips:
  • "Hanasaki Manjirou is housed in a 120-year-old machiya (traditional wooden townhouse), exuding a serene and nostalgic atmosphere. With private rooms offering views of the courtyard, guests can enjoy their meal while experiencing the beauty of Kyoto's four seasons—a truly fantastic ambiance!"
  • "For those looking to fully immerse themselves in Kyoto's culture, you can even reserve a performance by maiko (apprentice geisha) here. Witnessing traditional dance in the elegant style of old Kyoto is a truly unique and special experience!"

3. Tempura Endo Yasaka Gion

Endo Yasaka

Photo: kkday
Photo: kkday

Established in 1885, Yasaka Endo boasts nearly 140 years of history. Situated along Yasaka-dori, its elegant architecture seamlessly blends with the tranquil atmosphere of Kyoto's Gion and Yasaka areas. The interior, adorned with traditional Japanese decor, exudes a sense of sophistication, perfect for an elegant dining experience.

Specializing in authentic tempura made from fresh ingredients, Yasaka Endo showcases the finest flavors of seasonal Kyoto vegetables, mountain vegetables, and seafood directly sourced from the Seto Inland Sea. Even if you're already a fan of tempura, experiencing the light, crispy, and delicious offerings here will surely be a revelation!

Hana's Tips:
  • "Yasaka Endo offers a variety of seating options to cater to different preferences. For couples celebrating anniversaries or special occasions, I recommend choosing the counter seats for a more intimate experience. If you're visiting with family or a group of friends, booking a private room for a cozy and comfortable dining atmosphere would be ideal!"

Tofu: 3 Recommended Restaurants Near Kiyomizu-dera

When in Kyoto, tofu is also a must-try traditional dish! Kyoto tofu is famous for two main reasons: firstly, due to the soft water from Kyoto's underground springs, which contains less iron, resulting in tofu that is exceptionally smooth and easy to eat; secondly, because of the abundance of temples in Kyoto, tofu has been a crucial ingredient in shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) since ancient times.

Kyoto's reputation as a tofu-producing region means that many longstanding tofu shops are located throughout the area. Many respected restaurants use Kyoto tofu as an ingredient in their dishes. When visiting, be sure to experience the tofu's unique taste and texture!

1. Kiyomizu Jyunsei Okabeya

Photo: kkday
Photo: kkday

Been indulging in too much fried food during your travels? Head over to Okabeya, located near the approach to Kiyomizu-dera, and treat yourself to authentic tofu. Give your taste buds a refresh and let your body and stomach take a well-deserved break! This restaurant is the Kiyomizu branch of renowned and longstanding Nanzenji Junsei, and is a convenient stop for a post-temple visit meal.

Their most popular dishes include tofu soup and yuba. The former is served at the perfect temperature to bring out the natural sweetness of the tofu, while the latter is presented in small pots for guests to cook and enjoy themselves, ensuring maximum freshness and deliciousness! Paired with the restaurant's special sauce, you'll truly savor the rich soybean flavors.

Hana's Tips:
  • "Okabeya offers spacious seating, making it comfortable for elderly guests in wheelchairs or visitors with strollers to dine with ease."
  • "The restaurant primarily offers set meals featuring tofu soup and yuba, starting at around 2,200 yen. Additionally, they have a variety of à la carte dishes like deep-fried yuba, sesame tofu, and yuba sashimi, providing plenty of options for vegetarian diners!"

2. Okutan Kiyomizu

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500

Established in the early Edo period in 1635, Okutan tofu shop has a history spanning over 380 years, making it highly regarded establishment in Kyoto. Originally a popular shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) restaurant, the flavors passed down through generations and the atmosphere of the shop have remained unchanged. Here, visitors can experience the traditional ambiance of the ancient capital.

All tofu dishes are meticulously crafted by tofu artisans in the shop's own kitchen. Using pesticide-free soybeans cultivated by contracted farmers in the Hira region of Shiga Prefecture, combined with tofu fermented in natural salt brine, each serving has an exceptionally tender texture that sets it apart from the rest!

Hana's Tips:
  • "The deliciousness of Okutan's tofu dishes speaks for itself, but another highlight is the approximately 600-square-meter garden visible from the seating area, which is meticulously maintained by the restaurant. While dining, take a moment to listen to the soothing sound of the small stream flowing through the garden—it's sure to be therapeutic!"
  • "As Okutan is a highly traditional establishment, they only accept cash payments. Additionally, for groups of 6 or more, reservations are highly recommended to avoid disappointment."
Okutan Kiyomizu
  • 340-3 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0862

    Hours: weekdays 11:00am - 4:30pm (last order 4:00pm), weekends and national holidays 11:00am - 5:30pm (last order 5:00pm)
    Closed: Thursdays

3. Menkuroudo

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500

In addition to traditional tofu dishes, you can also enjoy yuba (tofu skin) in a different way—by trying a bowl of yuba soba noodles! One place where you can savor this unique dish is at the soba shop Menkuroudo, located near Kiyomizu-zaka and Gojo-zaka.

Their popular menu item, yuba soba, combines refreshing soba noodles with large, slippery pieces of yuba, offering a double delight that's truly impressive. Made with domestically sourced buckwheat flour, the aroma of the soba noodles is rich and inviting. For those who want to taste the pure flavor of soba, we also recommend trying the "plain steamed soba noodles (itaseiro)" or the "steamed soba noodles with crispy freshly fried tempura (tenseiro)"!

Hana's Tips:
  • "Menkuroudo is conveniently located just a 3-minute walk from Kiyomizu-dera, making it a quick and easy dining option before or after visiting the temple."
  • "In addition to the dishes mentioned above, their "Matcha Soba Noodles (Chasoba)" made with Kyoto Uji matcha are also highly popular!"
  • ・Address: 2F, 2-218-1 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0862
    ・Hours: 11:30 AM - 5 PM (last order 4 PM)

Tea Houses: 1 Recommendation Near Kiyomizu-dera

When it comes to Kyoto, many people immediately think of "matcha." Well-known shops like Nakamura Tokichi in Uji produce delicious green tea and famous matcha. In Kyoto and around Kiyomizu-dera, many traditional Japanese tea houses ("chaya") serve various types of Japanese tea and traditional sweets, providing a place for visitors to take a break and rest.

These tea houses are not just simple Japanese tea shops; they also bear the legacy of promoting Japanese culture, art, and tradition. So, whether you're a matcha enthusiast or not, visiting a tea house when in Kyoto is highly recommended!

1. Akoya Chaya

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000500

Although Kyoto has an air of ancient tradition, it's not just home to century-old establishments; there are also many newer restaurants suitable for casual dining, including Akoya Chaya, located near Ninenzaka. Despite being a relatively new-style shop, it offers a lunch-only buffet plan for ochazuke (tea-infused rice) at just 1,800 yen, where you can enjoy unlimited servings of 20 varieties of pickles, main dishes, miso soup, Japanese tea, and desserts, including freshly made mochi.

The variety of pickles is extensive, ranging from classic choices like eggplant, cucumber, daikon radish, and pickled plums to dried fish, Chinese cabbage, and sweet potatoes. It's simple yet delightfully blissful, paired with piping hot steamed rice, sixteen-grain rice, or white porridge. After the meal, you can fill yourself with freshly made mochi, topping off the perfect Kyoto lunch experience!

Hana's Tips:
  • "As an introverted editor, I find that many of Kyoto's old establishments have a somewhat reserved atmosphere. However, Akoya Chaya breaks this mold with its bright, spacious interior housed within a quaint, traditional building. Its cozy and welcoming atmosphere ensures that even first-time visitors won't feel nervous!"
  • "The location of Akoya Chaya is also excellent. Within a 10-minute walk, you can reach popular tourist spots like Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka Shrine, and Kodai-ji Temple, making it a perfect location for both dining and sightseeing."
Akoya Chaya
  • ・Address: 3-343 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0862
    ・Hours: Weekdays 11 AM - 4 PM (last entry 3 PM), weekends 11 AM - 5 PM (last entry 4 PM)

Cafés: 2 Recommendations Near Kiyomizu-dera

In Kyoto, there is never a shortage of things to see and do, but you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of attractions, which can lead to tired legs and grumbling stomachs!

Thankfully, Kyoto has plenty of dessert shops and cafes, particularly around Kiyomizu-dera. There, you can find standards like ARABICA Coffee and Starbucks, which are perfect for those who prefer coffee over tea to take a break and enjoy a cup of coffee while sightseeing. While some cafés may be familiar chains, many branches in this area integrate Kyoto's culture and natural features into their interior or architectural designs, making them great places to visit and snap some photos!

1. Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chaya

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000419
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000419

You might wonder what makes the Starbucks Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chaya store special. Well, it's not your typical Starbucks; it's part of the "Starbucks Regional Landmark Store" concept, designed to help patrons better understand the history and traditional culture of different regions.

Located conveniently on the Ninenzaka slope leading to Kiyomizu-dera, this store occupies a traditional Japanese-style building from the Taisho era, blending seamlessly into the surrounding historic ambiance. If you're not careful, you might walk right past it! Inside, you'll find seating areas where you can admire the Japanese-style garden, and upstairs, there's a tatami seating area. Enjoying a cup of coffee here offers a unique experience that's distinct from your usual Starbucks visit!

Hana's Tips:
  • "Every time I travel to different places in Japan, I visit Starbucks stores with unique architectural designs. This Starbucks, with its antique charm that makes it almost unrecognizable, is also on my must-visit list! In fact, this store pays attention to detail, with features like artwork depicting the coffee roasting process, Ryukyu tatami mats, and Kyoto-produced fabric cushions. Just taking a photo outside isn't enough; you must step inside and appreciate the atmosphere!"
Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chaya
  • ・Address: 349 Masuyacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0862
    ・Hours: 8 AM - 8 PM
    ・Closed: Irregular closures

2. ARABICA Kyoto Higashiyama

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000670
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000670

ARABICA is a globally-known coffee shop founded by a Japanese entrepreneur. From its first store in Hong Kong to relocating its main store to Higashiyama in Kyoto and then opening its first branch in Taiwan in 2022, it has attracted many followers throughout Asia. If you're a fan, visit the ARABICA Kyoto Higashiyama Store on Yasaka-dori.

One reason ARABICA is so beloved is that they have installed a Slayer Espresso machine in the store, allowing baristas to easily adjust settings like temperature and water volume. With this machine, the coffee brewing process becomes more vivid, showcasing the skills and meticulousness of different baristas. Even if it's the same ARABICA store using the same coffee beans, each cup has its unique personality, which is worth slowly savoring for coffee enthusiasts.

Hana's Tips:
  • "I'm not a big coffee drinker myself, but every time I pass by Yasaka Shrine, I can't help but be drawn to the aroma of ARABICA's coffee! If you're like me, a bit hesitant to drink coffee but still want to get the '%' logo cup for a photo, the shop also offers options like lemon water, sparkling lemon water, or matcha lattes!"
  • "Although the space inside the shop isn't very large, there are still about 5 or 6 counter seats available, so if you want to take a break, it's okay to sit inside!"
ARABICA Kyoto Higashiyama
  • ・Address: 87-5 Hoshinocho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0853
    ・Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM

Walking Snacks and Dessert Shops: 2 Recommendations Near Kiyomizu-dera

In different regions of Japan, there are many shopping streets where strolling and eating go hand in hand. Around Kiyomizu-dera Temple, especially near Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka, and Yasaka Shrine, there are numerous small shops offering snacks and desserts. From ice cream parlors to matcha dessert shops and traditional rice cakes, you can find both savory and sweet treats in abundance. Snacks to enjoy while walking not only look appealing but also come at affordable prices, making them even harder to resist. If you try some, just be sure not to spoil your lunch!

1. Kyoudango Fujinami Kodaiji Store

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000501
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000501

One of Japan's most traditional and historically significant delicacies is dango, which is made from simple ingredients. The Kyoudango Fujinami Kodaiji Store is located near Kodaiji Temple at the entrance of Ishibe-koji Lane, about a 10-minute walk from Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Additionally, Fujinami also has a main store on Sannenzaka, which is also close to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Both locations offer traditional Japanese dango, including soy sauce-flavored dango, matcha-flavored dango, and bracken rice cakes.

The distinctive feature of these rice balls on a stick is the use of carefully selected ingredients, and the traditional hand-grilling method passed down through generations. Enjoying them immediately after grilling lets you fully experience the simple aroma and chewy texture. If you don't have time to dine in, the "Kyoudango Takeaway Set," which includes both soy sauce and matcha flavors, is also perfect for taking back to your hotel to savor at your leisure.

Hana's Tips:
  • "Many well-prepared travelers know about the serene path of Nene-no-Michi, a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. During cherry blossom season, you can enjoy the beautiful flowers along with the traditional architecture. Kyoudango Fujinami is conveniently located near a row of cherry blossom trees, so you can partake in their delicious dango while enjoying the floral spectacle!"
  • "The unique feature of the dango here is their small size. Both kids and adults who have already eaten can easily enjoy them without feeling too full!"
Kyoudango Fujinami Kodaiji Store
  • ・Address: 463-28 Shimokawaramachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0825
    ・Hours: 10:30 AM - 5:30 PM (Subject to change depending on weather and other factors.)

2. Kiyomizu Ninenzaka Ishidatami

Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000501
Photo: LIVE JAPAN article a2000501

Have you ever noticed that in many tourist areas and shopping streets in Japan, there's always an ice cream shop around? It's quite magical how summer or winter tourists always seem to have ice cream in hand. Japanese ice cream just has a mysterious charm that makes you crave on sight! If you're also a fan of ice cream, you must visit Ishidatami.

Their most famous specialty is their incredibly rich matcha ice cream. What sets Ishidatami apart from other shops is that they don't use pre-made matcha ice cream. Instead, they mix and knead the matcha to create their own homemade ice cream, resulting in a distinctly bold matcha flavor.

Hana's Tips:
  • "After making the matcha ice cream, the flavor of the matcha gradually weakens. That's why the shop discards any matcha ice cream that has been sitting for more than 3 hours and prepares the product anew. It's impressive to see how seriously they take their signature item!"
Kiyomizu Ninenzaka Ishidatami
  • ・Address: 352 Masuyacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0826
    ・Hours: 10 AM - 5:30 PM
    ・Closed: Tuesdays (Also closed in case of bad weather such as heavy rain.)

Exploring the Charms of Historic Kyoto Around Kiyomizu-dera

Exploring Kyoto's unique historical background and cultural richness, with its ancient temples like Kiyomizu-dera and Kodaiji, alongside natural attractions such as Arashiyama and Amanohashidate, offers a diverse array of allure. It's no wonder that Kyoto hosts so many tourists each year. Kiyomizu-dera, with its blend of natural beauty and stunning architecture, stands out as a must-visit destination in Kyoto.

The restaurants mentioned above are perfect for a visit before or after exploring the famous temple. However, it's essential to note that this area tends to be crowded, especially during peak seasons like cherry blossom viewing and summer vacation. It's advisable to make good use of online reservations to secure bookings at these eateries in advance!

(*The information provided in this article is accurate as of April 2024. For the latest updates, please refer to the respective official websites.)

Written by:

Wong Man Yee

Wong Man Yee

Man Yee has been residing in Tokyo since 2016. With a keen interest in Japanese travel and translation, she holds JLPT N1 and Kanji Kentei Level 2 qualifications. She has explored all 47 prefectures of Japan and penned over 300 articles to date. Skilled in discovering novelties in lesser-known suburban areas of Japan, she writes from a Hongkonger's perspective, aiming to boost their popularity and revitalization. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to different Japanese cities and has a penchant for Japanese curry shops, having visited over 100 of them across Japan.

*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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