West of our previously visited all-time favorite Gion (祇園) lies the pleasant dining district Pontocho. It stretches alongside the beautiful Kamogawa River about which I could also tell you a lengthy personal story about.
Honestly, I have not even seen everything there is to see but Kyoto (京都) already has created so many special memories, it’s amazing.
Back to the topic at hand, if you didn’t find anything to eat in Gion or want to try other high-class dining, you’re in the right area.
Similarly to the Maiko/geiko (芸子) dining experience, some establishments in Pontocho are not only of the same price range, but also equally difficult to even get a seat in. If you befriend some locals during friendly late-night izakaya (居酒屋, Japanese bar) drinking sessions, you’ll get there soon enough.
But don’t worry, there are restaurants for the not-so-rich as well. Pontocho is a great collection of almost everything the Kyoto cuisine has to offer. Have a look around and you’ll surely find your taste.
Establishments that are aligned on the eastern side of the district offer a great view on Kamogawa River. Additionally, some of these places offer a special dining experience known as Kawayuka (河床), where they build temporary platforms on top of the water to allow guests to eat afloat.
This event is usually available in the summer months from May to September. I recommend making reservations in advance as it is super popular with the locals.
Pontocho is very much a place for dining so not every restaurant will also serve lunch unfortunately. You can enjoy lunch in Gion and come here to have a hefty dinner though, totally sounds like something I should do some time. 😀
More and more establishments are catering towards foreign visitors and offer English menus.
How to get to Pontocho
Pontocho lies just west of Gion on the other side of Kamogawa river.
From Kyoto Station:
You can take bus number 17 or 205 and get out at Shijo Kawaramachi which is the closest bus stop. The ride takes about 17 minutes and costs 230 Yen (1,77€/$2.05; exchange rate as of December 2018). It’s about 5 minutes of walking from there to Pontocho.
Alternatively, you can take the train and get out at Kawaramachi Station. Take the Karasuma Line and transfer to the Hankyu-Kyoto Line at Shijo Station. This takes about 8 minutes and costs 360 Yen (2,77€/$3.21) and is about the same walking distance as the bus stop mentioned above.
Pontocho is more than anything a place for your hungry bellies. If you’re looking to have a romantic dinner by the riverside, this is your best bet.
But even going out with a group of friends and visiting the various cheaper restaurants and bars is very fun!
Either way, make sure to please your taste buds by treating them to some fine Kyoto cuisine, you won’t regret it!
As Pontocho is conveniently located near popular areas like Gion, Maruyama Park and Nishiki Market, you will have an easy time combining the visit with lots of great sites.
As always, see for yourself and be amazed. 😊
That’s it for this article, friends! Thank you very much for reading.
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See you there!