Food Culture in Kyoto

November 24, 2019

by Shinij Yasuda, Shogo Koizumi and Kosuke Ono

On December 4, 2013, “Japanese traditional food culture” was registered as intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Japanese food has heart that the Japanese cherish and much wisdom, which was cultivated over a long history. This registration means that the value of Japanese food culture has been recognized by the world. Kyoto has a variety of traditional food that has been refined in long history and seasons, as well as fresh vegetables using seasonal vegetables. We would like you to know about food culture of Kyoto in this opportunity and enjoy this article.

 Background of food culture in Kyoto

Mountains and some rivers surround Kyoto. Because of this beautiful nature, Kyoto became capital city of Japan for hundreds of years after the Heian Era (794 – 1185) and Kyoto developed culture, religions and politics. Living in Kyoto, people had connection with the royal family, samurai and priests. Therefore, there is a cultural relationship with them. These events and conventions take root deeply in daily life that is became unique culture. Especially, food culture in Kyoto became very famous and it is necessary for Japan.

Kyoto is blessed with high quality water and the fertile soil, and the farm village region is nearby the urban area. In this way, transport of food is easy and this made a connection between village and city. Moreover, there is a teaching of Buddhism, so Kyoto people developed their food culture mainly on vegetables. Foodstuffs were carried from not only near places but from far places, so people in Kyoto had to improved preservation techniques. Moreover, people device a way to cook, and these developed the food culture of food.

In addition, diverse culture came from all over the country in Japan, which includes livelihood culture such as tea ceremony and flower arrangement in Kyoto. Moreover, more, Kyoto became famous place of production of lacquerware, ceramics, wood, and bamboo crafts as well. These built spiritual culture such as hospitality to others and seasonal feeling that affect the food culture of Kyoto.

 Characteristics of food culture in Kyoto

Japanese do not forget appreciation to animal food and vegetable food. Therefore, Japanese express their appreciations with the words, which are ‘itadakimasu’ said before meals, and ‘gochisousama’, said after meals. In addition, Japanese have a rule of not wasting food in the life. Moreover, it is very important for people who live in Kyoto to ascertain the essence of food. That is why people in Kyoto have more opportunities to be exposed to sophisticated culture of food than other people. Today, some spirits supports food culture in Kyoto.  The spirit of this culture embodies the ideas that Japanese should cherish beautiful nature in every season and treat someone very politely as a guest.

 Food culture of daily life

There is a food culture called “obanzai”. It is a kind of common traditional dish in Kyoto. Obanzai is flavored with soup base and it is made of vegetables in season. That is devised ways to use everything with no waste. In addition, by having a variety of foods, to people in Kyoto can maintain nutritional balance. Even now, merchant families carry on the life wisdom of tradition. Moreover, traditional food has meaning that a family’s health, safety, and it is made at each event. For example, osechi is Japanese New Year’s cuisine, a daggertooth pike conger dish is eaten during Kyoto summer Festival called Gion festival, Japanese people eats soba noodles on New Year’s Eve and so on. There is a dish that is eaten at every celebration and turning point in life. For instance, there are particular dishes for the sixtieth birthday celebration, the ceremony for a baby’s first meal and for a wedding. Furthermore, sushi culture developed like mackerel sushi because they have preservability. It is necessary as a special dish at anniversary. Kyoto has unique noodle dishs like Tanuki udon and herring soba. Soup bowl and rice bowl dishes orginally spread among craftsmen. As a unique Kyoto dish, there is a kinugasa-don. (Don means bowl of rice with topping)

 Famous food in Kyoto

Green tea… Green tea grows well in the high quality water and the fertile soil in Kyoto.

Japanese-style confection…It is served in traditional events and in the tea ceremony.

Refined sake…Kyoto is blessed with good quality ground water and sake of Kyoto has become very famous.


In conclusion, our Japanese cuisine; Japanese traditional dietary culture was designated as UNESCO cultural heritage. This is a great honor and indicates that Japanese terrific culture is recognized by the world. Kyoryori is made from special fresh vegetables and by mature people’s skill. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and Lake Biwa is near Kyoto as is the Kamo River. It is related to why some clean vegetables are used to cook or make Kyouryori. This cuisine is based on four types of cuisine. “Japanese culinary art and culture which focuses on court noble”, “highly ritualized full-course meals which focuses on Samurai warriors”, “vegetarian dishes which focuses on the Buddhist monks who cannot prey on animals” and “tea ceremony dishes which developed with tea ceremony. This implies table manners.These are recognized that people eat these cuisines while drinking. Primarily, the most significant thing to make Japanese cuisine is aesthetic appeal. In addition, color scheme is also essential thing. Chef has an important role to cook these food and care about beautifully arranged on plates. Plates such as a bamboo ware, woodenware, glassware and utensils have to be suitable. Besides the appearance of food, one thing that is important is a sense of the season. Chefs always consider what they have to do to make customers enjoy the meals so they have to figure out which food is currently in season and cook seasonable delicacies. Ultimately, they bring out the natural flavor of ingredients and make the most of the flavor of each food. Most of the ways of cooking Japanese cuisine are simple. For example, sliced raw fish is used as sushi. That way, seafood is eaten raw. It could be the best way to keep the flavor from tasting bad. Most foreign countries do not do this.

Ricette per cucinare OBANZAI

Yuna Yahara, Ayano Tanaka


Obanzai è il nome della cucina casalinga tradizionale di Kyoto. Vi vogliamo insegnare due ricette che potete cucinare a casa vostra in Italia, usando le verdure italiane. Se avete in progetto di venire a Kyoto, vi consigliamo comunque di aggiungere qualche ristorante di obanzai alla vostra lista di posti da visitare e cose da fare. Se invece avete già mangiato obanzai a Kyoto, leggendo le nostre ricette potrete ricordarvi del tempo passato in Giappone.


condimenti obanzai

Condimenti necessari:
salsa di soia, sakè oppure vino bianco, zucchero, aceto, basilico



Uno dei piatti tipici della cucina obanzai. Preparate due melanzane per due persone.

tagliare melanzane

1. Tagliate


Tagliate le melanzane trasversalmente e fate delle tacche sulla superficie. Fate friggere dell’olio, aggiungete le melanzane e cuocete. In un’altra pentola mettete ① salsa di soia, 15ml (un cucchiaio) ② sakè o vino bianco, 15ml (un cucchiaio) ③ un po’ di zucchero ④ acqua, 30ml (due cucchiai). Alla fine aggiungete le melanzane. Cuocete a fuoco lento, e quando comincia a bollire fermate il fuoco.  Aggiungete un po’ di aceto balsamico ed è pronto! È più buono mangiato il giorno dopo. Siccome le melanzane assorbono i liquidi, regolate la quantità di succo.

friggere melanzane

2. Mettete in padella







completamento melanzane

3. È pronto!















tagliate la zucca

1. Tagliate

Preparate un quarto di zucca tagliandola a pezzetti. Metteteli in una pentola, poi versate acqua fino allo stesso livello della zucca, cuocete e aggiungete i condimenti, lessate. I condimenti sono ① salsa di soia, 15ml (un cucchiaio) ② vino bianco, 15ml (un cucchiaio) ③ un po’ di zucchero ④ un po’ di aceto balsamico. È pronto!

completamento della zucca

2. Completamento













Jako è novellame di pesce seccato, e piman significa peperone. Se volete preparare questo piatto in Italia potete sostituire i pesci con le nocciole. In Giappone i peperoni si usano verdi, ma potete usare anche paprica. Vi consigliamo di usare peperoni rossi e gialli. Tagliate i peperoni verticalmente, tritate le nocciole, friggete i peperoni in padella con un po’ di olio. Aggiungete i condimenti: ① un po’ di salsa di soia ② un po’ di vino bianco ③ un po’ di zucchero. Alla fine aggiungete le nocciole e fate soffriggere. È pronto!


tagliare peperoni

1. Tagliate


In alto a sinistra JAKO,                                    in in alto a destra le nocciole














Adesso che è tutto pronto, non ci resta che augurarvi buon appetito! E anche se cucinate obanzai in Italia, appena potete venite a Kyoto per gustare l’autentica cucina obanzai.

cucina kyoto





Die Gokomachi-dori

Foto der Gokomachi-dori in Kyoto

Die Gokomachi-dori

Eine faszinierende Straße

von Eriko Nishi und Tomomi Fukuizumi


Die Gokômachi-dôri liegt in der Nähe der Kawaramachi-Straße (Kawaramachi-dôri). Die Straße ist belebt und von bescheidener Eleganz. Sie gefällt den jungen Leuten gut. Dort gibt es geschichtlich interessante Gebäude, Geschäfte, Cafés, Geschenkartikelläden, ein Museum und eine Kirche. Das Hochhaus „1928“ bildet das Zentrum der Kyotoer Kunstszene. Man kann einen ganzen Tag damit verbringen, auf dieser Straße von Norden nach Süden zu laufen. Lesen Sie hier, was es dort alles zu erleben gibt.

Das Hochhaus „1928”

Foto des Hochhauses 1928 in Kyoto

Das Hochhaus 1928

Dieses Hochhaus wurde 1928 gebaut. Es heiβt „Art Complex 1928“ und ist auch heute noch unverändert erhalten. Im Laufe der Zeit hat es ein ganz spezielles kulturelles Flair entwickelt. Dort gibt es eine Halle, in der schon seit Jahrzehnten Aufführungen und Vortragsveranstaltungen stattfinden, die bei den Bürgern stets viel Anklang fanden.

Im „Art Complex 1928“ kann man verschiedene Kunst erleben. Man kann auch die Vorstellung „GEAR“ sehen, die als „Complex entertainment“ bezeichnet wird. Die Akteure führen Performances auf, die ohne Worte auskommen, wie etwa Breakdance, Pantomime oder Zaubertricks. Das ist nicht nur für Erwachsene unterhaltsam, sondern auch für Kinder. Die 60-minütige Vorstellung ist auf 100 Zuschauer beschränkt.

Das Schulhistorische Museum von Kyoto

Foto des Schulhistorischen Museums in Kyoto

Schulhistorisches Museum

Das Schulhistorische Museum von Kyoto befindet sich ebenfalls in der Straße. Es hat eine lange Geschichte hinter sich. 1869 wurden in Kyoto die ersten 64 Grundschulen Japans gegründet, die man damals als „Bangumi-Grundschulen“ bezeichnete. Um die Lernleidenschaft in das ganze Land zu tragen, widmeten die Leute der Stadt der Ausbildung und der Schulleitung ihre ganze Kraft. In diesem Museum gibt es nicht nur Ausstellungsmaterial über die Schulen zu sehen, sondern es blieben auch etwa 11.000 Schulbücher und etwa 2.000 Kunstgegenstände erhalten. Man kann Kyoto also als Entstehungsort der neuzeitlichen Grundschulbildung bezeichnen.


Erwachsene: 200 Yen, Schüler: 100 Yen

Öffnungszeiten:  9:00 – 17:00 (mittwochs geschlossen)

Die Cafés in der Straße

Foto mumokuteki cafe & foods

Das mumokuteki cafe & foods

Es gibt auch zwei Cafés in der Straße, in denen man Gemüse aus Kyoto essen kann. Eines davon ist das Café „mumokuteki cafe & foods“. Die Angestellten bauen das Gemüse für die Gerichte selbst an oder kaufen es auf dem Markt ein. Daher ist alles sehr frisch und gesund. Man kann beispielsweise ein Hacksteak ohne Fleisch, Eier und Milch bekommen. Es werden nur gesunde Zutaten benutzt. Trotzdem ist die Auswahl auf der Speisekarte reichhaltig. Besonders gefragt ist das Mittagsmenü für etwa 1.000 Yen. Hier kann man das Gemüse aus der Region auch ohne großen Geldbeutel genießen.

Foto vom KOKORAYA in Kyoto


Das zweite Café heißt „KOKORAYA”. Hier kann man „OBANZAI“ essen. „OBANZAI“ ist ein Menü mit verschiedenen Gemüsesorten aus Kyoto. Das Wahrzeichen des Geschäfts sind die Körbe mit vielen regionalen Gemüsesorten, die vor dem Geschäft aufgereiht stehen. Das Gebäude ist alt und man kann traditionelle Speisen bestellen. Für das Mittagsmenü kann man aus vielen Gerichten von der Speisekarte auswählen. Beliebt ist besonders das Gemüse, das jeden Tag vom Bauern geliefert wird. Die Speisen schmecken natürlich und der Reis schmeckt süß. Auch die Farbzusammenstellung des bunten Gemüses und des weißen Reises ist ansprechend. Hier wird man wirklich satt!

Zeichnung Wegbeschreibung Gokomachi-dori

Wegbeschreibung Gokomachi-dori

Es gibt also viele interessante Geschäfte und Einrichtungen in der Straße und man kann sich dort den ganzen Tag gut unterhalten. Wenn Sie nach Kyoto fahren, kommen Sie doch einmal dort vorbei. Sicher können Sie ein Geschäft nach Ihrem Geschmack entdecken!






Legumes de Quioto (Kyo-Yasai) e Obanzai

by Masataka Sato

Legumes de Kyoto

Kyoto escolheu inicialmente 34 variedades de legumes como típicas da região, geralmente conhecidos por “Kyo-Yasai”.
Agora, são 43 as variedades com esta classificação.
Como Kyoto está longe do mar, a aquisição de peixe e marisco era difícil, por isso o uso de vegetais foi privilegiado na evolução da culinária local, principalmente nos muitos templos budistas e santuários xintoístas.

Principais variedades dos legumes de Kyoto

    • Um rabanete japonês (daikon) SHOGOINDAIKON – uma das verduras de Kyoto tradicionais. É usado para comida cozida.

    • Um nabo (kabu) SHOGOINCABU – é branco e redondo. O maior nabo em Japão, com aproximadamente 5 quilos.
      Uma berinjela (nasu) KAMONASU – é grande, com 10cm em diâmetro.

    • Uma bardana (gobou) HORIKAWAGOBOU – tem um buraco no seu interior. Leva tempo e dá muito trabalho para produzir. É um legume caro.

  • Uma cebolinha (negui) KUJONEGUI – uma cebolinha que representa o Japão.


“Obanzai” é a palavra usada para exprimir o acompanhamento da comida, em Kyoto.
Os pratos que utilizam o “kyo-yasai” como “obanzai” têm uma boa reputação.

O exame de certificação em KYO-YASAI

As pessoas podem submeter-se a um exame de certificação em “Kyo-yasai”, ou seja, um diploma que reconhece a competência de alguém que conhece bem os sabores das verduras de Kyoto.este exame é uma acção para ganhar o fã de kyo-yasai


Obanzai: Kyoto Home Cooking

by Maya Nogami

In Kyoto, people call the daily meals cooked in their own home, obanzai. It is similar to the home cooking of other regions. However, some dishes are different because they use Kyo-yasai, Kyoto-grown vegetables, or use traditional Kyoto tsukemono, which are a type of pickles.

Recently in Kyoto we can find many restaurants that serve obanzai. However, a long time ago it was just simply the daily meals, and people usually ordered special dishes from a shidashi-ya, a home delivery service, when visitors came.

Obanzai has its origins in folk wisdom. A long time ago there was not enough food, so people had to use everything they could eat. Therefore, they used the skins of vegetables, pieces of dried bonito after it was used for soup stock, and so on. This is characteristic of obanzai. Also, using seasonal ingredients is an important aspect of obanzai. This is because a long time ago people could not get food out of season because there were no supermarkets or convenience stores like now. Moreover, there were no modern appliances such as electric refrigerators, so people had to quickly consume food while it was fresh. So people created various types of obanzai using the same ingredient.

Anyway, even though obanzai is the home cooking of people in Kyoto, nowadays the style is changing.

In fact, there are many obanzai restaurants, and visitors go there to eat obanzai as a representative food of Kyoto. Moreover, there is the chance to learn how to cook obanzai when people visit Kyoto.

As I have written, people emphasize the relationship between seasons, customs, and events with obanzai ingredients. For example, in July, hamo (a type of eel) is a very popular ingredient of obanzai, and it is considered a delicacy. (As an aside, during the Gion Festival in July, people in Kyoto eat many hamo dishes, so this festival is also called the Hamo Festival.)

The following recipe is for Satsumaimo (sweet potato) no Amani.

l Satsumaimo (sweet potato)
l Sugar
l Mirin (sweet sake for seasoning)
l Salt

How to cook:

1. After washing the sweet potato, cut it into slices of about 1.5 cm.
2. Soak the slices in water, and change the water 2 or 3 times until the water is no longer cloudy.
3. Boil the sweet potato with sugar, and after the sweet potato becomes soft, add sweet sake for seasoning and a little bit of salt.

However, if you’d like to enjoy tasting many different kinds of obanzai, there are some restaurants in Kyoto that serve obanzai dishes as a smorgasbord. One such restaurant is Gyaatei in Arashiyama. At lunchtime you can try about 30 different types of obanzai, such as tofu dishes, boiled and seasoned dishes, and miso soup, as part of a smorgasbord. (The cost is 1,980 yen, and you can eat for one hour.) Or you can buy obanzai at some supermarkets.

If you want to try real authentic traditional Kyoto home cooking, why don’t you taste obanzai?