A “hole-in-the-wall spot” is a spot that few tourists visit and few people know about. There are many such spots in Kyoto. Therefore, in this article, we will introduce some of Kyoto’s hole-in-the-wall spots where you can relax with a small group of people.
Relaxing places in Kyoto are quiet places or places surrounded by beautiful nature where you can relax and forget about everyday life. These places are essential when stress and fatigue build up. Here are some tips on how to find these places.
Behind the Gion Festival
The Gion Festival is a festival of five shrines held annually in mid-July in the Gion area of Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Once a Shinto ritual in ancient times, Gion Festival is now known as the largest festival in Kyoto and attracts many tourists.
If you want to learn more about the Gion Festival, visit some of the recommended spots on the back side of the festival. For example, we recommend seeing the river of lanterns and the rows of townhouses on Oike-dori. Also, on the morning of the Gion Festival, you can look down on the Judgment River from the Gojo Ohashi Bridge. This is the site of a ritual called “Asagao” during the Gion Festival.
The Gion Festival is also fun at night. If you like karaoke, the Gion Tsujiri café hosts a “Gion Festival Karaoke Tournament. You can also experience the splendor of the Gion Festival just by walking through the streets, which are decorated with beautiful lanterns and food stalls.
If you want to avoid the crowds at the Gion Festival, you can take part in a photo exhibit of past festivals and learn about the festival’s history. In addition, you can stroll along the lively back streets, mingle with the locals, and sit on a large tea table for a fresh cup of tea.
Although the Gion Festival can be very crowded, it is still an important cultural festival. Make the most of the Gion Festival in a way that suits you.
Kyoto’s secluded kawadoko
Kawayuka, or riverbeds, are a fashionable outdoor dining experience enjoyed in Kyoto in the summer. Visitors can enjoy a delicious meal and a refreshingly cool experience on a floor set up over a cool river. However, while many places are expected to be crowded due to their popularity, there are also attractive places for kawadoko that are relatively secluded.
One way to avoid the crowds is to go a little further out and visit Arashiyama. Across the Katsura River, a short distance away from the popular Arashiyama sightseeing spot, there are kawayuka (riverbeds) that are relatively uncrowded and offer a sense of seclusion. Enjoy a delicious meal and a pleasant breeze while listening to the sounds of fireworks and houseboats passing by.
Another recommended spot to enjoy kawadoko cuisine in Arashiyama is Daimaru Kyoto Arashiyama. You can enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine using seasonal ingredients on a kawadoko (riverbed) decorated with green bamboos and lanterns. It is recommended for large parties, but also for small groups to enjoy a luxurious moment in the nature of Kyoto.
Enjoy a relaxing time at one of Arashiyama’s secluded kawadoko (riverbeds).
Stretch Your Legs and Enjoy a Nature Walk
Nature walks are an essential part of any trip to Kyoto. It is a refreshing way to take in Kyoto’s beautiful scenery, flowers, and history. However, there are many places in Kyoto where nature walks can be enjoyed. Below we introduce some less familiar spots for nature walks outside of Kyoto, nature walks around Sento Gosho (Sento Imperial Palace), and the Philosopher’s Path.
As nature walks outside of Kyoto, we recommend Ine and Amanohashidate. Ine is a small fishing village with healing hot springs and a lovely harbor. Amanohashidate has some busy tourist spots, such as the Watarigetsukyo Bridge, but once you enter, you will be surrounded by the beautiful nature of Mt. Chokaisan and a strong sense of serenity.
Next, a nature walk around Sento Gosho, with its seven small gardens, will make you forget the hustle and bustle of the city. And within the grounds, you can promenade along the nature path and enjoy the forests and streams.
And a stroll along the Philosopher’s Path is also one of the most beautiful walks in Japan. The path lined with cedar trees offers seasonal views. There are also many temples and gardens along the way, where you can quietly hold hands and meet cats.
A nature walk is more than just a stroll; it is also a chance to meet local people and experience Kyoto’s culture. So, allow plenty of time to stretch your legs in peace and quiet.
A tour of cafes unique to the ancient capital
For those who love visiting cafes, Kyoto is a wonderful place to visit. There are hundreds of cafes, all offering unique and appealing menus. Here are some of the best places to visit in Kyoto.
Kyoto’s Atmospheric Cafes
First on our list are Kyoto’s atmospheric cafes. Here you will find a wide variety of cafes, from those with traditional Japanese architecture to those with contemporary interior design. They are perfect for those who want to enjoy reading quietly, chatting with friends, or working in a calm place.
Special features of cozy cafes
Next, let’s take a look at some cozy cafes. The most enjoyable part of visiting a café is the wonderful coffee and delicious sweets, but just as important is the relaxing atmosphere. A cozy café provides such a space, where you can refresh your body and mind.
Delicious Japanese sweets cafes in Kyoto
Lastly, I would like to introduce some delicious Japanese sweets cafes in Kyoto. Kyoto is the home of Japanese sweets. In addition to the mouthwatering taste of matcha green tea and anko (red bean paste) and the beautiful appearance of the sweets, wagashi sweets made by the careful handiwork of wagashi craftsmen offer a wonderful taste experience. It is also a good idea to taste Japanese sweets at a café and enjoy the taste of Kyoto’s finest.
As you can see, there are many attractive cafes in Kyoto. Please try to find a cafe that suits your taste.
Enjoy Kyoto at night
At night, Kyoto shows another attractive face. Let’s start with a stroll through Kyoto at night. Streetlights are lit, shrines and temples are illuminated, and the atmosphere is magical. Particularly recommended is a night walk around Yasaka Shrine. In addition, don’t miss the illumination of Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Ginkaku-dera Temple.
In addition to tourist attractions, izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), beloved by locals, are also essential to enjoying a night out in Kyoto. Some of the best food can only be found here. For example, mackerel sushi, yakitori (grilled chicken), and oshinko (pickled vegetables) are all worth trying at least once. What you can especially enjoy in Kyoto’s izakayas is the “drinking culture. The atmosphere in the restaurant, which has been handed down from previous generations, and the snacks that go with the drinks are very attractive.
Furthermore, there are many fashionable bars in Kyoto. They range from unique atmospheres to classic bars. Among them, we recommend the bars around Nanzenji Temple and Okazaki Park. There are many such places where you would like to go in for just one drink.
Kyoto at night has a different charm from that of the daytime. Enjoy a night stroll with a drink, eat a full meal at a Japanese-style izakaya (pub), or take a break at a stylish bar…. Please enjoy Kyoto at night, which the locals love.