Traditional townhouse cafes

February 8, 2019

by Mai Kobayashi and Haruko Ishii


Have you ever been to a café in Kyoto? We’re sure you have as there are a lot of cafes in Kyoto City these days. Also, Instagram is popular now, and a lot of pictures of cafes in Kyoto appear on it. So, cafés in Kyoto are becoming more and more popular. Recently, cafes which are in many of Kyoto’s renovated traditional townhouses have become very popular! In this article, we will look at some of these renovation cafes.

Traditional townhouses used to be merchants’ houses which were built from the Edo period (1603-1868) through to the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989). A traditional house in Kyoto is called unagi-no-nedoko which translates as ‘bed for an eel’. The meaning of this name comes from the narrow width and considerable depth of the houses, making them resemble an eel. The reason why there are many unagi-no-nedoko in Kyoto is related to the old Japanese tax system. In the Edo period, the amount of tax was decided by the width of the frontage, so many traditional townhouses had an elongated structure. The reason why traditional townhouses are being renovated more and more recently is that people who visit Kyoto can really experience the interior spaces of Japanese tradition. Also, to keep the appearance of Kyoto, activities to protect traditional townhouses are being held. As an effort to do that, entrepreneurs have renovated traditional townhouses and are building fashionable shops and cafés.

Here are some Kyoto cafes which are renovated traditional townhouses for you to try!


This cafe opened in 1984. The interior of this café has a first floor with counter seating and a second floor with tables and sofa seats with almost all of the furniture is made of wood. The entrance is a very small and deeply shaped, so it looks like unagi-no-nedoko and many Japanese movie posters are hung on the walls. This café’s staff are very friendly so you can have a comfortable time enjoying the atmosphere here. On top of the interior design, there is a selection of Japanese Manga to enjoy.

Sarasa opens from 12:00 to 23:30 Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, they open from 11:30 to 23:00. At lunchtime (12:00-15:00), you can eat their daily lunch which has a main dish, rice and soup. You can have dessert and drinks anytime. There is also a lot of dishes to try at dinner time (18:00-23:00). The soup rice dish is recommended! This has a mild taste. You can choose chicken or pork. At this café, you can try dishes that are favorites of a lot of Japanese people.


Soup rice


Lunch menu


Chocolate parfait & Season Cake


The café’s address is 〒604-8024 Kyotoshi-cyuouku-shinkyougoku-shijyouagaru-nakanocyo-565-13. You can get to this café by taking the Hankyu Line and getting off at Kawaramach Station. Go to Exit 6 and when you get to ground level, go right and go to Kayukoji Street (花遊小路商店街). Lunch time and dinner time are popular, so you may have to wait.

Blue Bottle Coffee

The Blue Bottle Coffee Company is from California, America. There are 10 cafes in Japan: Tokyo, Kobe, and Kyoto which only has one café. This café is a renovated traditional townhouse that is over 100 years old. The interior has a high ceiling with large windows which let in a lot of natural light in this open space. Neon lights are on exposed earth walls with bamboo. The ceiling has modern neon lights that harmonize with the nostalgic atmosphere of this old building. Leading up to the entrance there is a gravel courtyard where you can spend a special moment in the seasonal nature: fresh green from spring to summer and autumn tints that fall in autumn.

This café opens from 8:00 to 18:00. There are 44 seats in this shop so you can take a seat to enjoy the selection of freshly brewed coffee and pastries while looking at the interior. The aroma of the coffee here is very good and has a deep flavor. If you like it, you can buy the coffee beans to take home.

A further tip is, before or after you go to Nanzenji Temple, have a break at Blue Bottle Coffee. Nanzenji is the highest rank of temples in Japan. This temple is very popular with Japanese people and overseas tourists. In mid-November, you can see beautiful autumn leaves in this area.



The address is 〒606-8437 Kyotoshi-sakyoku-nanzenji-kusakawacyo-64. This café is located near Nanzenji. You can get to this café by taking the Tozai subway line and getting off at Keage Station (蹴上). Blue Bottle mark is a landmark for this café!



The landscape of Kyoto is different each season so you can enjoy them from the numerous cafes dotted around Kyoto. In spring, there are a lot of cherry trees and blossoms. In summer, you can relax in a café with the sound of cicadas. In autumn, colored leaves are beautiful in Kyoto. And finally, in winter, you can see snow. So, you can enjoy not only cafes in Kyoto but also the real feeling of the four seasons. We recommend you to try out these two cafes especially.

Kyoto Styled Coffee


Why not take a break with a cup of coffee before you leave for your next destination? If you want to get a real taste of Kyoto in a drink, try some original coffee during your stay. Featured here are two coffee shops original to Kyoto and brimming with hospitality. We call this “Kyoto styled coffee”.

Kyoto Ogawa Coffee

Ogawa coffee features a luscious smell and fine bitter taste. The company is proud of their selected coffee, and you can enjoy fine Ogawa coffee at any of the 43 branches of their coffee shops around Japan. They also sell their original roasted beans at the counter, as well as a variety of delicious cakes made for each season. Ogawa coffee has original home made cakes, cups, a full of service style, and a special atmosphere in each of its cafés. These elements all work together to provide a truly enjoyable coffee drinking experience.

History and Unique Features

 Set up in Nishikyogoku, Ukyo-ku, Western Kyoto, in 1976, when its main office was moved nearby, Ogawa Coffee manages the whole process itself, from the importing, selecting and buying of beans, to product development and sales. Directly in from the entrance, you can find coffee beans sold in the corner, telling you that you have arrived in an authentic establishment. They have a number of seats on the first floor which are separated into smoking terrace seats on the right, and non-smoking seats on the left. On the second floor, there are 36 more seats, where customers can also enjoy live music performance at dinner time. One of their specialties is a particularly interesting line in drinking receptacles, as they serve coffee in kiyomizu-yaki cups (one of the fine style of ceramics product in Kyoto). These cost about 25,200 yen each.

Contribution to society

A “Coffee lecture” has been offered twice a week at Kyoto Ogawa Coffee for some time now, with a professional coffee adviser showing you how to make excellent coffee using the paper dripped method. After the lecture, participants can carry out in practice what they have learned, and professional advice will surely expand your point of view towards coffee. At the end of the lesson, you will be able to taste your own original coffee along with selected cakes. You are sure to be satisfied with this combination of coffee lecture and practical experience, with the bonus of enjoyable tea time.

One lecture is about one and a half hours in duration.

Date & Times
Every second Thursday (10:30-12:00)
Every fourth Thursday (14:00-15:30)
Tel……………………………… 075-313-7333
Participation Fee……..700yen (includes materials, cakes, and a small present)
Reservation Hours…..9:00-17:00 weekdays (Except Saturday, Sunday and office holidays)


Regular coffee………………..420 yen
House blend coffee………..420 yen

Message from Owner

When you come to Kyoto, please visit us and try some our original coffee. We will be pleased to serve you with real hospitality and hope you will feel Kyoto style through our specialized coffee in a kiyomizu-yaki cup.

Basic Information

Business hours:
Monday to Thursday 7:00am~9:00pm
Friday 7:00am~10:00pm
Saturday, Sunday and Holiday 8:00am~10:00pm
Address: 75 Hokujokyou-cho, Nishikyogoku, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Access: About 10 minutes walk from Nishikyogoku station (Hankyu line)
Tel: 075-313-7334
HP: http//

Murakami Coffee

Old style Kyoto house, wooden shop sign, comfortable space, hand made Japanese coffee cups, and freshly roasted coffee beans…you can see and feel all of them at Murakami coffee. But the only thing that customers can buy is coffee beans. That is particularly important to the owners, Mr. & Mrs. Murakami, because they want their customers to enjoy coffee of a really good quality.

History and unique features

This place has been run by Mr. & Mrs. Murakami since 1999. They used to have their own coffee shop before, but then decided to open a coffee beans shop because they also wanted people to make and enjoy excellent coffee at home, too. It is clear they absolutely love coffee, and it was their dream to open this original coffee shop. This dream came true several years ago with the help of a number of people, such as a relative (an interior coordinator), an acquaintance (wood craftsman), and a good friend (the owner of a cake shop in Kyoto)

Original iced coffee is one of the most popular goods in this shop, and is made from selected coffee beans, brewed strongly using water of good quality found in Kyoto. Also, glass bottles are used for the containers, so as not to leave the kind of odor that is sometimes found when cardboard or plastic is the material used. Even though it costs much more than using the other types of container, the improved taste is considered worth it. No preservatives or other artificial additives are involved in producing this iced coffee; therefore, it is produced little by little to keep it fresh. According to the owner, some patrons love this iced coffee so much they buy it time and time again.

In addition, there are coffee beans, chocolate, and some pound cake and cookies available at the shop. These sweets are made by the confectioner who is Mr. Murakami’s friend.

Moreover, inside the shop, you can find many kinds of Japanese style pottery items displayed alongside the coffee beans, such as coffee cups, mugs, and plates. They are all handmade individually by a craftsman, so every piece is different from others, even though they have the same patterns and colors.

About the beans

After the coffee beans are imported, only the freshest beans of the highest quality are selected and roasted in an original way at the factory. The only sell roasted coffee by the gram here, and soon after an order is taken, it is packed in a special bag made of aluminum to keep the coffee fresh and in tip top condition. They can also roast coffee beans to your specification; coarse or fine.

A sampling service is offered, so you can try some coffee at the shop if you like, before purchasing.

-Mild Blend ………260 yen per 100g
-European Blend ………280 yen per 100g
-Mocha Blend   ………310 yen per 100g
-Original Blend  ………370 yen per 100g

Basic information

Address: 19 Hitosujime Hagashi-iru kojoonmae-kudaru, Minami-ku, Kyoto
Tel/Fax: 075-681-9698
Email:  mc-café
Business Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00am – 7:00pm
Closed Sundays & Holidays