Enjoy a walk through the retro alleyways of the Nishijin District

Enjoy a walk through the retro alleyways of the Nishijin District
In recent years, more people have started ejoying trips that let you have a local experience as if you live there. With its traditional housing renovated as lodges, retro alleyways and alluring corner shops, the Nishijin District of Kyoto is the perfect place for such a trip.

If you would like to travel through Kyoto as if you are walking through downtown back at home, I would like to share with you some of the great places that you could visit.

Stay there as you live there at the Byakko-tei, the perfect lodge for experiencing local life in a Kyomachiya (Traditional Kyoto Townhouse)

Located in a beautiful alleyway of kamigyou-ku, the Kyomachiya Byakko-tei is an excellent choice for experiencing local life in Kyoto.
Before it had its renovation, this private townhouse lodge was a historic clothing shop located in Nishijin, the birthplace of the Nishijin textile. This lodge can be leased to only one group per day.

|Old-fashioned, comfortable and heartwarming rooms

The Byakko-tei (sometime referred to as the “eel’s den“) stands in the alleyways of Sasaya-chou Kamigyou-ku filled with Kyoto-esque features. The townhouse retains the feel of a Kyomachiya but has its interiors renovated to provide a comfortable stay.
The comfort and nostalgia of this lodge, similar to what you would feel at your relative’s house back home, makes it the perfect place for staying as if you live there.

The lodge has great access to sightseeing spots throughout the Nishijin area, making it a perfect place for those seeking an immersive stay.

Furthermore, you can experience Kyoto throughly just by taking a quick stroll, as Kamishichiken (one of the Kyoto Gokagai geisha districts) and the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine are both within a walking distance.
≪ Byakko-tei ≫
【Address】284 Sasaya 4-chome Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Access】 About 5 minutes by foot from the Kyoto City Bus "Senbon Imadegawa" Stop

Enjoy breakfast at the Showa retro café "Shizuka"

  • Shizuka
  • Shizuka

|The vintage interior design that will make you feel as if the time has stopped

After awakening from a good night's sleep at the Byakko-tei, I walked down the street to café "Shizuka" for some breakfast. The café is named after the original owner named Shizuka, who was a geisha. It was passed into the hands of the current owner’s grandfather in 1938.

During the times when the nearby Kamishichiken hanamachi was still bustling, geisha from Kamishichiken would often drop by at this café to meet with their husbands in Nishijin.
Most of the interior of the café has been kept the same since its opening. The current owner’s grandfather’s foreign antiques collection, add to the retro atmosphere inside.
  • Shizuka
  • Shizuka
▲The card on the table shown above, is an illustration of Shizuka, the café’s founder.
The two morning menus are the “Morning Service (half a slice of toast with boiled egg)” which can be purchased by adding 50 yen to a drink order, and the “Morning Set (3 hot sandwiches, a small salad, and coffee).” The café is usually filled every morning with locals seeking to get these breakfast specials.
Doesn’t it sound great to have your favorite café right near your house?

If you’re visiting Nishijin, definitely give the locals’ favorite breakfast a try at Café Shizuka while enjoying the atmosphere reminiscent of the showa era.
≪ Café Shizuka ≫
【Address】164 Minamijyozenjichou (Imadegawa-dori Senbonnishi-iri), Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Hours】 9:30am~5:30pm
【Closed】Wednesday, 2nd Tuesday of the month (*open if it is the 25th)
【Access】About 1 minute by foot from the Kyoto City Bus "Senbon Imadegawa" Stop

The peculiar mud wall of the "Uhoin Temple" is a popular photo spot

Uhoin Temple
After leaving Café Shizuka, I arrived at the Uhoin Temple. This temple is known for its spring cherry blossoms including the Gyoikou sakura and the Kanki sakura.

|The photogenic and beautiful mud wall

Uhoin Temple
I visited the Uhoin Temple to see this peculiar yet beautiful mud wall called a "dobei". The dobei surrounds the nearby Honryuji Temple and its grounds, and has the Honryuji Temple’s old and replaced roof tiles called "kawara" embedded inside it.
Uhoin Temple
The contrast between the red lantern and the mud wall beyond the Uhoin’s southern gate is beautiful, and has a Kyoto-esque feel to it, which has made this location a hidden gem photo spot for tourists.

The narrow walkway that along the mud wall that extends all around the Honryuji Temple is an ideal place for a sentimental walk. If you want to enjoy taking some photographs in peace, this is a great hidden gem to visit.
≪ Uohin Temple ≫
【Address】Ekoin-dori Kamidachiuri-agaru Shoten-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Hours】 9:00am~5:00pm(gate closing time)
【Entrance Fee】Free
【Access】 About 5 minutes from the Kyoto City Bus "Imadegawa Jyofukuji" Stop.

Get mesmerized by the artistic "Mikamike Alley"

Mikamike Alley
  • Mikamike Alley
  • Mikamike Alley

丨A retro alleyway with a 130-year-old house

The Mikamike Alley is the home of the 130-year-old house where the craftsmen of the Mikamike Nishijin textile manufacturer lived.
The antique terrace houses on both sides of the alley create a retro feel. Recently, more tourists have been visiting this place to see the historical alley.
  • Mikamike Alley
  • Mikamike Alley
The terrace houses are still in use today, and are occupied by shops and artists like potters and photographers. The retro exterior combined with the modern shops and ateliers are uniquely appealing.

Although a relatively short alley, the photogenic buildings here are great for taking some scenic photos.
≪ Mikamike Alley ≫
【Address】323 Monya-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Access】About 5 minutes by foot from the Kyoto City Bus "Imadegawa Omiya" Stop.

An old-fashioned book store "Karaimo Books"

After enjoying walking through the Mikamike Alley, why not try wandering into an iold-fashioned book store to pick out a book for tonight’s read. You might be able to find the perfect book as a memory for your trip.
It’s not very spacious, but there are books of a variety of genres filling every corner of the store. If you like books, you should find it enjoying just by simply looking around.
Most of the books are cheap secondhand books, but there are some rare and valuable books as well.
You can feel the owner's personality from the selection of books, and you'll definitely want to visit this wonderful bookstore again.
【Address】301 Oomiya-dori Rozanji-agaru-nishiiri Yashiroyokocho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Closed】Tuesdays and Wednesdays
【Access】About 5 minutes by foot from the Kyoto City Bus "Tenjin Koen-mae" Stop

Try the delicious Oyako-don Lunch Special at Nishijin's long-established restaurant "Toriwarou"


丨A popular restaurant where there is always a line of people seeking 0yako-don

I was so engrossed in the books that it has already become noon. Seeking some lunch with my growling stomach, I arrived at the “Toriwarou” restaurant located nearby KARAIMO BOOKS.

“Toriwarou” is a long-established mizutaki (hot pot) restaurant, but their most popular dish is their 900 yen Oyako-don (only orderable from 12:00pm~2:00pm).
Many tourists from overseas come here seeking the special Oyako-don, and the seats are always filled during lunch time.
  • Toriwarou
  • Toriwarou
The waiter lead me through the vintage restaurant built in 1945 during the Showa period, to my seat in the tatami room on the 2nd floor.

丨The sansho’s (Japanese pepper) aroma in the delicious yako-don will stimulate your appetite

Since they only serve Oyako-dons for lunch, your Oyako-don will be served without having to order it, shortly after taking a seat.
The hint of sansho and the soft egg and chicken make this dish so appetizing and delicious. It tastes so great, you’ll be done with it before you know it! You might even feel the need to order another one. The dish is definitely worth trying out while visiting Nishijin.
≪ Toriwarou ≫
【Address】 75 Itsutsuji-dori Chiekoin-nishiiri Itsutsujicho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Closed】Every Thursday and from December 28th through Jnuary 5th
【Access】About 3 minutes by foot from Kyoto City Bus "Imadegawa Jyofukuji" Stop

Tour Nishijin’s historical hand weaving sweatshop “Orinasukan”

The Orinasukan is a museum of handwoven fabric and Noh constumes. It was started in a building that used to be an actual store owned the founder of “Wataribun”, a world famous kimono brand.
  • Orinasukan
  • Orinasukan
The museum retains the beams and skylights of the historic building, so you can feel the atmosphere of the store back in the day.

┃You will be amazed by the elaborate Nishijin textile and the techniques of the craftsman

The best part about the Orinasukan is how close you can get to the Nishijin textile exhibits. You can get much closer to the exhibit than at an average museum, so you can clearly see the amazing detail and work put into the fabric.

You can also view the production of the Nishijin textile bands at the hand weaving factory next door.
While the craftsmen describe to you in detail how the fabric is made, you will hear the noise of the weaving machines echoing throughout the building. It is an enjoyable tour where you can get very close to where the actual work is done. (※photography is prohibited inside the factory)
≪ Orinasukan ≫
【Address】693 Jyofuku-ji Kamidachiuri-agaru Daikoku-cho, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Closed】Mondays (open on public holidays), New Years Holidays
【Fee】500 yen for adults, 400 yen for Highschool and under
【Access】About 5 minutes from Kyoto City Bus "Senbon Kamidachiuri-agaru" Stop

In to Gamaguchi Coin Purses? Visit the “Matsuhiro Shoten”

Matsuhiro Shoten
  • Matsuhiro Shoten
  • Matsuhiro Shoten

丨All of the products in the store are handmade by craftsmen

“Matsuhiro Shoten” is a wholesale gamaguchi coin purse specialty shop located in Kamishichiken, one of the Kyoto Gokagai.
Formerly a teahouse, this store has bags, wallets, card cases, stamp containers, and a variety of gamaguchi coin purses with cute designs. All of the gamaguchi are handcrafted by craftsmen.
  • Matsuhiro Shoten
  • Matsuhiro Shoten
The fabric used for the designs are also varied, and the sheer number of choices will leave you looking left and right throughout the store.
The store also has many modern designs and small items for everyday use, so it’s a great place to enjoy carefully picking out that one special item that stands out to you.
≪ Matsuhiro Shoten ≫
【Address】716 Imadegawa-dori Shichihonmatsu-nishiiri Shinseicho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
【Closed】Wednesdays (open if it is a holiday or the 25th, and closed on the following day)
【Access】About 2 minutes by foot from Kyoto City Bus "Kamishichiken" Stop

Be served by a Maiko in her Yukata - Kamishichiken Beer Garden

Kamishichiken Beer Garden
  • Kamishichiken Beer Garden
  • Kamishichiken Beer Garden
If you’re visiting Kyoto, you definitely want to see maikos and geishas, but most tea houses have a “no first timers” rule that makes it difficult for tourists to enter.
Are you wondering if there are any places that you can enter casually? My recommendation to you is the Kamishichiken Beer Garden, open during the summer at the Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater.

丨First timers are welcome! Enjoy chatting with geishas in their yukata with some drinks

Kamishichiken Beer Garden
  • Kamishichiken Beer Garden
  • Kamishichiken Beer Garden
The Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater is normally a place where geishas perform, but this elegant, Japanese building transforms into a beer garden during the summer.
The best part about this beer garden is that the geishas in their yukatas will come to your table to serve you.

It has become a popular event where many tourists visit to casually chat with geishas that you can rarely see very closely.

If you’re interested, make sure make a reservation before this popular event fills up! (Reservations can be made on their website).
≪ Kamishichiken Beer Garden ≫
【Address】742 Imadegawa-dori Shichihonmatsu-nishiiri Shinseicho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
・Every year from early July to early September
・From July 1st to September 5th for 2018(※Closed from August 14th to 16th for Obon)
【Hours】5:30pm~10:00pm(Last order 9:30pm)
【Access】About 3 minutes by foot from the Kyoto City Bus "Kitano Tenmangu-mae" Stop
The Nishijin area has a lot of historic alleys and buildings, and it is a spectacular place for experiencing Kyoto.
If you are seeking the mellow atmosphere of Kyoto and want to stay there as if you live there, definitely give it a visit.

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