Backstreets of Shijo Karasuma

The guts to be on the back street = mighty good shop

Text: Kenji Tsuchihashi / Photo: Takahiro Mitsukawa

There are 2 types of backstreet: those with a name, like Ajiki Roji and Mikamike Roji (roji meaning alley, street, etc.) and those without any name. The former refers to historically valued people, building or incidents, each reflecting a their own story. But the most falls under the latter category making those alleys a hard-to-reach area with many great spots hiding around. Try as many as you can to enjoy the Roji-culture (back street culture of Kyoto!


We are starting from Shijo Karasuma. The first alley to go into is a nameless one that stretches to the east from a bit further point from Higashinotouin Shijo. It's at the south of the famous Eggs'n Things pancake shop. We are heading for VOU, a shop & gallery opened since May 2015 that puts up a flashing neon sign in a quiet neighbor. An art college graduated owner selects arts by young illustrators and graphic designers. Many guys would like 'Kamogawa Gunte' and 'Bou Cap'. The owner's taste and strategy combined with the leniency of the backstreet must be supporting shops like VOU to strive to create an alternatively new culture. 

Taking few more steps for another 3 minutes from VOU to Takakura-dori Shijo-sagaru Nishi-gawa (Takakura Street, down from Shijo, on the west side), we shall arrive at Kyoto cuisine restaurant Okazuya Ishikawa and BAR Oku, both a machiya (Kyoto style house) building within an easy access from Shijo Karasuma. What is so special about this alley is the huge lamp that is hanged from the roof. You cannot see this on your way into this street, but when you finish your meal and are about to leave, lookup! This huge lamp that sees visitors off was given to Okazuya Ishikawa when they opened. 

Being on the main street is of course benificial to do business, nonetheless, why be on the back street? This can only be so with a confidence that they will succeed. It's the mighty guts of a good shop.



ADDRESS: 47-12 Higashinotouin Shijo Sagaru Motoaku Oji-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (map)
HOURS: 16:00-22:00
CLOSED: Wednesday & Thursday

ADDRESS: 221-2 Takakura Shijo Sagaru Takazaimoku-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (map)
TEL: +81(0)75-344-3440
HOURS: 17:30-24:00 (Sunday & public holiday close at 23:00)
CLOSED: Irregular holidays

ADDRESS: 221-2 Takakura Shijo Sagaru Takazaimoku-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (map)
TEL: +81(0)75-344-6040
HOURS: 19:00-02:00
CLOSED: Monday