Kyoto, Japan has a rich culture that attracts tourists. The food is just as rich as the culture and can captivate even the most adventurous foodies. Itadakimasu!

Kyoto Food: Nishiki Market is an open-air Kyoto street with stained glass covering for shelter.
Nishiki Market is an open-air Kyoto street with stained glass covering for shelter.
Photo by Sarah R. Peets

Kyoto is just like any other city in the world. There are so many unique cafes and restaurants in each different Japanese neighborhood. From the historical district to the business district, you will find fun, delicious, and unique foods. When people think of Japan, they think of either weird or traditional food. Surprise! Japan has all kinds of food, and more!

Weird Japanese Food: Nishiki Market in Kyoto

Kyoto Food: Sea Urchin, sweet buns, and octopus were just some of the delicious foods!
Sea Urchin, sweet buns, and octopus were my favorite Japanese foods!
Photo by Sarah R. Peets

How was it I visited Kyoto, Japan over 5 times before finding out there was an entire market dedicated to Japanese street food? Japan takes street food to a whole new level. Nishiki Market is known for its weird instagrammable food! This Japanese market is made up of food booths and vendors that stretch down over 4 blocks.

My three favorite foods in Nishiki were the sea urchin (uni), Japanese donut (shaped like a hedgehog), and octopus stuffed with a hard-boiled quail’s egg (tako-tamago). Check out Japan’s Snoopy Cafe (and food) and other craft vendors on your food inspired walk! If you continue down the street, you will eventually end up at a Japanese shrine. Toss a coin in for me!

Traditional Japanese Food: Waraku-an Tea House

Kyoto Food: Daifuku was a filling traditional sweet food after a long tour.
Daifuku is a filling traditional Japanese sweet food.
Photo by Sarah R. Peets

Multiple times, I had the pleasure of touring Japan’s Nijō Castle. I experienced it in every season, and despite the crowds, Japanese hanami (flower viewing) was my favorite. While we waited patiently in a pond full of Japanese koi and lilies, the scents of the teahouse on the castle grounds entice you in. Japanese gardens always add to the atmosphere with the food.

Waraku-an Tea House has a seasonal menu to correspond with the weather outside. In the winter, hot sake and noodles are the food options. In the summer, shaved ice with cold sake takes over. In fall and spring, you get the most food varieties. My favorite was a matcha daifuku cake. Made with the mochi wrapping, matcha cake in the center, red bean paste holding it all together, and the very best matcha syrup to pour on top, this sweet Japanese food is decadent.

A Mix of Old and New Food: Menbaka Fire Ramen

No ramen, no life! Fire Ramen is always a fun food experience!
Photo by Sarah R. Peets

Near Nijo Castle is a little restaurant known as Fire Ramen (Menbaka) and it is a tourist hotspot for Japanese and foreigners alike. It is more than just delicious ramen! Be hungry, but prepared to wait. You will take a ticket, and you will have to stand to wait. I assure you; Fire Ramen is worth it.

They will serve you traditional tonkotsu ramen, cold or hot sake, and hand you the required bib. While handing you instructions in English and Japanese, they will take your phone and set it up on a hanging selfie stick. Follow instructions, lean back, and watch them pour fire on your glorious bowl of Japanese ramen.

It is very difficult to leave Kyoto, Japan without the city capturing your heart. Kyoto has preserved its history, architecture, culture, and religion beautifully. One moment you will smell Japanese udon in an old Gion street by rushing Maiko, and the next you’ll be eating uni on the side of an alley laughing. Take the risk and enjoy every bite of Japanese food. If you just want ramen, then at least get Fire Ramen.

So, which of these Japanese foods would you like to try on your trip to Kyoto, Japan? Is Japan on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.

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