Kyoto Guide: Sightseeing × Vegan Food | Gion Area

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

Definitely a must-visit if you are in Kyoto! Famous for its traditional atmosphere with beautiful, old-fashioned architecture, Geisha, theatre, fancy tea houses and restaurants, Gion is probably the most traditional and Japan-like part of Kyoto. With its many shops it is perfect for taking beautiful photos, eating traditional food and sweets as well as buying souvenirs.


As Gion area is super close to Higashiyama area, where you can find Kiyomizu-dera, and Shijo-dori street, where you can go shopping, I recommend paring these three areas on one day.



How to get to Gion

Near-by train stations: Gion-shijo Station (Keihan) , Kyoto-kawaramachi Station (Hankyu)

Bus: https://www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/busdia/hyperdia/menu127.htm


 

Sightseeing


Yasaka-Jinja Shrine


Located between Gion District and Higashiyama District.


The thing that’ll immediately catch your eye is Yasaka-jinja. With its red color and huge size it is impossible to be missed. Yasaka-jinja also is the shrine which hosts the famous Gion-matsuri every June.

About Gion-matsuri (official homepage): http://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/en/gion.html


After passing the gate, you can access several sub-shrines, along them ones that are famous for helping you become beautiful and finding love.

The main hall with the prayer hall in front is where many cultural performances take place, including those performed by Geisha.



The gods worshiped here are Susano’o no Mikoto alongside his wife Kushiinada-hime and their eight children, the Yahashira no Mikogami.



Opening Times: 9:00 – 17:00 (grounds open to pass through 24 hours)

Admission: free

Address: 625 Gion-cho north sides, higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City

Map

Homepage: http://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/en/

List of Yearly Events: http://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/en/event.html




Gion Tatsumi Bridge

source: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Giontatsumi+Bridge/@35.0055679,135.7745043,3a,75y/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1sAF1QipO85Kt9usbvZ_Zkiug-o3uZL4v4Hf1oVlGrLr06!2e10!3e12!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipO85Kt9usbvZ_Zkiug-o3uZL4v4Hf1oVlGrLr06%3Dw114-h86-k-no!7i4032!8i3024!4m5!3m4!1s0x600109171a467311:0xad81365212c402b4!8m2!3d35.0055679!4d135.7745043?hl=en

This is not a sight, but a beautiful spot I recommend for taking stunning pictures. In fact, it is popular even between professional camera men for photo shootings as the atmosphere is so traditional and pretty with the canal and old houses in the background. There are cherry trees, too, which makes this place especially great in spring.

Opening Times: 24h

Admission: free

Address: 372 Kiyomotocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0084, Japan

Map




Shirakawa Canal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source of this pic: Gion#/media/File:Shirakara_Canal,_Gion,_Kyoto.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/source: Gion#/media/File:Shirakara_Canal,_Gion,_Kyoto.jpg

If you’re already at Gion Tatsumi Bridge, why not take a walk alongside the canal starting from there?

With beautiful houses ranking alongside this idyllic canal you can enjoy a traditional atmosphere, giving you a glimpse of how Kyoto must have looked like in the past.

It is also a popular Hanami spot during spring season as the cherry trees give the area the last touch for the perfect picture.




Hanamikoji Lane


This entertainment district has been associated with Geisha and Maiko, even though it is extremely rare to see them on the street. This street is lined by amazing, traditional architecture with lots of expensive restaurants, teahouses and cafés inside.

One of the more modern tea houses there is "Zen Café". You can read my blogpost about it here: https://www.summernightdream.com/post/zen-cafe



Address: Gionmachi Minamigawa, Kyoto, 600-8340, Japan

Map




Kenninji Temple

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennin-ji#/media/File:150124_Kenninji_Kyoto_Japan01s3.jpg

10 min by foot from Gion-Shijo Station.


If you follow Hanamikoji Lane to its southern end, you can find Kenninji, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto which belongs to the Rinzai Zen sect. The temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yousai (1141-1215). With its spacious grounds it is not only perfect for a stroll, you can see the Chouontei, which is a beautiful Zen garden, as well as paintings of two dragons decorating the roof of the Hodo Hall. This distinctive mark of Kenninji are images of the wind and thunder gods. Furthermore, there is a square garden fronted by the priest's living quarters, abbot's quarters, and reception room. The main part of the temple is the Hattou (Dharma Hall) which was built in 1765.


Attention: Closed until further notice because of Covid. Please check the official website for information about it.

Opening Times: March-October 10am-5pm, last entry 4:30pm

November-February 10am-4:30pm, last entry 4pm

Closed December 28-31

Admission: Adults: 500¥, High and junior high school students: 300¥

Address: Komatsu-cho, Yamatooji-dori, Shijo sagaru, Higashiyama-ku

Map

Homepage: https://www.kenninji.jp/english/




Minamiza Theatre

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minami-za#/media/File:Minamiza_theatre,_Kyoto,_evening.jpg

Gion is not only famous for its traditional architecture and atmosphere, it also is a great place to watch traditional Japanese theater. Minamiza Theatre is said to be the oldest theatre in Japan and started operating as one of the seven theatres certified by the Tokugawa Shogunate in Shijō, which during early Edo period flourished as a town of plays. It is focused on manly Kabuki plays.


For more information you can check out these websites:

https://www.kabukiweb.net/theatres/minamiza/information/

https://www.insidekyoto.com/kabuki-kyotos-minamiza-theater



Address: Japan, 〒605-0075 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Nakanocho, 198 四条大橋東詰

Map

Ticket Prices: 3000-10000¥

Homepage: https://www.shochiku.co.jp/global/




Shijo-Pontocho


This place does not exactly belong to Gion, but is very close from there, on the other side of the river. Pontocho is an atmospheric dining area with many amazing restaurants. It is a very nice photo spot too.


Address: Kashiwayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8014, Japan

Map


 

Cafes & Restaurants

Vegan = V , Vegetarian = VG, Non-Vegan and Non-Vegetarian = NV

In general, it is safe to say that most traditional Japanese sweets that are like mochi (for example daifuku, dango etc.), which you can find lots of here, are vegan. There are only few exceptions. If unclear, please ask the staff to be safe.


The following places definitely have vegan options:



Omen Shijo-Pontocho Branch (NV, V)

Udon, tempura


About 5 min from Hanamikoji Street, on the left side before entering the Shijo-Pontocho street which is on the other side of the river.


Serves one vegan option, the rest includes meat or fish. As it is not marked on the menu, make sure to ask the staff specifically for vegan udon and it will come with vegan broth. It comes together with different vegetables you are supposed to add into the broth. The noodles come separately from the broth and you just dip them in and eat.

You can also choose the tempura set, then you will get vegetable tempura additionally to the udon. The batter is made without egg. Again, please specify vegan so that you will get vegetable tempura only, not one with fish.



I personally really love their udon! It is yummy and comes with a variety of super delicious veggies. I especially love the kinpira gobou. It is included in the veggies, but sometimes I get a bowl of it on the side as well.

Prices: 1000¥-2000¥

Opening Times: 11:00-15:30, 17:00-21:00 (Closed on Thursdays)

Address: Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8014, Japan

Map

Homepage: https://www.omen.co.jp



Gion Irize Saryo (V)

Parfait


Near Yasaka-jinja.


This super pretty little café is perfect for when you want a delicious icy treat on a hot day. They are one for the rare fully vegan parfait places and even offer them for take away. They have big parfaits as well as mini parfaits.



Menu:


Check out this blogpost for more detailed information:

https://www.summernightdream.com/post/gion-irizersaryo


Opening Times: 10:00 - 16:30 (closed on Thursdays, check SNS!!)

Address: 京都府京都市東山区祇園町南側524-2

Map

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gionirisersaryo/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Cafe/gionirisersaryo-115174130173734/


 

Other restaurants with vegan options I’ve not been to yet, so I can't tell much about them.

Higashiyama Yuuzu (NV, V)

Vegan soft serve


Near Kenninji Temple.



Opening Times:10:00 - 15:00, 17:30 - 21:30

Address: 570-218 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan, 605-0074

Map

Website: http://higashiyamayuuzu.main.jp


Maharaja (NV, VG, V)

Indian food


5 minutes from Keihan Gion-shijo station.

Opening Times: 11:00 - 14:30, 17:00 - 22:00

Address: 268 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan

Map

Website: http://www.utsunomiyasangyou.com/maharaja/index_english.html


Kyoto styled Okonomiyaki & Sake Oagari (NG, VG, V)

Kyoto style okonomiyaki


Near Yasaka-jinja.

Opening Times: 12:00 - 14:30, 17:00 - 21:00

Address: Japan, 〒605-0074 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Gionmachi Minamigawa, 537-2 ヒロビル 2F

Map

Website: https://oagari.com/en/




Tokkyu Ramen (NV, V)

Ramen


About 6min from Yasaka-jinja.


There seems to be one vegan ramen option.

Opening Times: Monday, Tuesday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday: 11:30 - 00:00, Sunday: 11:30-20:30

(Closed on Wednesdays)

Address: 30-4 Bishamoncho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan, 605-0821

Map

Website: https://ramen-restaurant-809.business.site

Tel.: +81-9019033498

Bali Bali Indonesia

Indonesian food


Near Gion Shijo Station.

Opening Times: Wednesday - Sunday: 15:00 - 21:00 (closed Monday, Tuesday)

(Call to ahead confirm!)

Address: 227 Nijuikkencho Higashiyama-Ku (at Shijyo Kawaramachi), Kyoto, Japan

Map

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/balibaliindonesia/

Tel.: +81-755617050


Menkui Kinya (NV, V)

Udon, tempura


Separate vegetarian/vegan menu available.


Prices: 900¥

Opening Times: Tuesday - Sunday 11:30 - 16:00 (closed on Mondays)

(Please call ahead to confirm!)

Address: 112-2 Hakatacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0805, Japan

Map

Tel.: +81755417230


Kyoto Curry Udon Mimikou (NV, VG, V)

Udon, Tempura


Near Yasaka-jinja.


Everything on the vegetarian menu is vegan except for one option with egg.

Opening Times: 11:30 - 21:00, (Closed on Mondays) Please call to confirm!

Address: 528-6 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0074, Japan

Map

Homepage: http://www.mimikou.jp/

Tel.: 075-525-0155


Kyoto Mamehachi (NV, V)

Tofu, Yuba

About 7min from Hanamikoji Street, on the other side of Shijo-Pontocho street which is on the other side of the river.


Please ask the staff for vegan options. Vegan lunch courses and dinner courses available.

Prices: 2000¥-5400¥

Opening Times: 11:30 - 15:00, 17:00 - 21:00

Address: 210-4 Nabeyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8015, Japan

Map

Homepage: https://k127209.gorp.jp/

Tel.: +815054848342


 

If you know or find more vegan and vegetarian-friendly places in this area, please share them in the comment section so that everyone can find them.


 

Where to visit next:

Higashiyama Area (coming soon)

Shijo Dori Area (coming soon)

 

Check out my other Kyoto Sightseeing x Vegan Food Guides:


Arashiyama Area

https://www.summernightdream.com/post/kyoto-guide-arashiyama


Ginkakuji Area

https://www.summernightdream.com/post/kyoto-guide-ginkakuji-area

Nijo Area

https://www.summernightdream.com/post/kyoto-guide-nijo-eng


 

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