Alleys in Gion which has gone through unique development in Japan.
Text : Kenji Tsuchihashi / Photo : Takahiro Mitsukawa
When I take my guests to Gion in order to eat and drink, they always ask me, “What? Are you serious? Isn’t it really expensive to eat out in Gion?” However, I know that there are so many reasonable and great hideaway restaurants in the back alleys. Moreover, it is a popular area for sightseeing and you might have an opportunity for business entertainment with the others from outside of Kyoto. If you become a person who needs to introduce this area, it is very helpful to have your own restaurant to go in this area.
First of all, it is very useful to remember that there are numbers and signs on each back alley like ’No.16 alley’ along Shijo Dori to the north-side. It looks all the same alleys, but if you remember the numbers and signs, it is easier to know where you are and at the same time it is very good for you to guide your guests. However, unfortunately, some of the alleys lost its signs and numbers already, so that you must be really careful about it.
First thing you might want to remember is ‘No.19 alley’. It says, ‘Gion koji’ on its sign and also politely says, ‘This is No.19 alley’ above. It locates on east side of ‘Kazurasei Roho’ which is well-known for Tsuge comb and camellia oil, so that it is easier to remember where it is. Stepping inside from Shijo Dori to No.19 alley toward north, you will see a local Izakaya (traditional Japanese bar) called ‘Yamaguchi-daitei Higashi-ten’ on your right side. It has a friendly appearance and it has been about 50 years since they opened this bar. One of the beloved places here in GIon area. In their menu, they have grilled fish, deep fried food, sashimi, and their speciality Tekka-meshi. I promise that they are all great.
After you going through No.19 alley, you will see a Taiwanese restaurant called ‘Pimpin’ with a red lantern at the entrance. Even though this restaurant is managed by a mother and her daughter only, it is very popular among professional chefs in this neighborhood. It also opens till 3:00 a.m. and they have pettitoes, short-neck clams with garlic and more regular menus from Taiwanese home dishes. You might not want to forget to order their speciality, boiled gyoza. It is very juicy inside of thick dumpling skin and you can eat for two people for sure.
The more you step inside of alley in Gion, the more complicated the structure is. If you have a night tour in this area to see people who work there, you definitely have a feeling of small great adventure. To tell you the truth, the most interesting thing in Gion area is that they have gone trough unique development that you have no idea. For example, a new building extended their levels on top of the alleys and covered them up and it becomes a tunnel alley now which was supposed to be surrounded by traditional town houses. Some alleys show up the city of Gion perfectly. If you are able to feel some loves on these alleys which changed drastically, then you know everything here already.
ADDRESS : 19banchinai, 286 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-561-4158
HOURS : 5:30 p.m. ~ 11:00 p.m.
CLOSED : Sunday
ADDRESS : 1F Pickle Bldg, 397 Tomigana-cho Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-541-4419
HOURS : 6:00 p.m. ~ 3:00 a.m.
CLOSED : Sunday and holiday