When I was in Arashiyama I got to try tons of traditional sweets and eat Kyoto Obanzai. What’s Kyoto Obanzai? Obanzai (おばんざい) is the homestyle cuisine of Kyoto. Severed with several side dishes. Kyoto doesn’t really have a lot of local cuisine unlike the rest of Japan. Kaiseki (懐石料理), the process of serving a course meal of traditional Japanese cuisine, started in Kyoto. Kaiseki now that’s pretty much the fancy way of eating and if you visit any onsen (hot bath) they do a Kaiseki.

My Obanzai since it was in Arashiyama was Shojin Ryori (精進料理) which is Buddhist monk food. Mainly tofu based. The Arashiyama district of Kyoto is well known for its Shojin Ryori mixed with Obanzai. Although I’m unsure how the flavor the broth, it was a mostly vegetarian meal.

I also got to savor lots of traditional Japanese sweets at a small sweets stall.

Saga Tofu

嵯峨とうふ (website)
address: 右京区嵯峨天龍寺北造路町46-2

Saga Tofu is on the main drag of Arashiyama near Tenryu-ji

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The top floor was for the savory diners and the bottom was for desserts.

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Obanzai contained

Chawan Mushi (egg custard)
Yomogi and Seitan sticks with fermented soy paste
Light brown miso soup
5-grain rice
Warabi which is peanut powder covered mochi
Big bowl has tofu and fermented miso in a shabu broth
Pickled vegetables
Grayish square Gomadoufu (ごま豆腐) is Homeade seasame seeds crushed and chilled like tofu

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5grain rice. Thank you nice restaurants in Japan for giving healthier options instead of just plain white rice.

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Chawan Mushi or an egg custard. Often filled with fish, this one was vegetarian.

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The main course. A hot pot of tofu, vegetables and ginger in a thick shabu sauce that was bubbling when it arrived to me.

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Warabi covered in peanut powder. The knife was to cut it, but it was still a trial to eat with.

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The Yomogi and Seitan sticks with soy paste. Sweet but not too sweet.

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You could see the lovely koyo (autumn leaves) outside.

Kumiage Yuba

I went back earlier this year with my man and while he got the Obanzai. I got the Kumiage Yuba (the top left option on the menu). Kumiage Yuba is fresh tofu skin in soy milk served warm.

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My whole spread similar to the Obanzai extras. The Kumiage Yuba is on the top in an interesting bamboo-shaped pot.

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Close-up of the Kumiage Yuba and its two flavoring sauces which were were asked to dip in.

This time I got English instructions (on the left). When I was alone eating my Obanzai I didn’t.

It was really tasty and I never thought about warm soy milk as a savory meal.


Traditional Japanese Sweets in Arashiyama

This is a stall that can be found if you turn right once you’re on the main drag of Arashiyama walking from the train station. Left is to Tenryu-ji. Right is several shops and a selection of food stalls open all year. You can also stumble onto it after visiting the bamboo forest.

I really recommend it as a place to get some tasty Japanese sweets and energy up for the hikes ahead in Arashiyama.

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I stopped by this traditional desserts shop not once but thrice to get my fill of tasty desserts. I really love traditional Japanese desserts. I know I post a lot of cake places, but my preference is snacks that are not too sweet.

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Black Koto-imo (古都芋) a sweet potato and black seasame cake. It’s an Arashiyama traditional sweet. It looks like a brick but it was nicely packed with delicious sweet potato.

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Yomogi Mochi Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子) dipped in fermented soy sauce. Bitter and slighty sweet mix.

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I went back to the sweet stall in Spring and luckily I got my man to hold them all so I could take good pics.

Iced matcha for the Spring weather. Along with another Koto-imo, a Hanami Dango (花見団子) and an Imo-Manjuu (芋饅頭) or sweet potato bun. Hanami Dango come always in 3 colors and their only for sakura season. I love sakura season. Thank you traditional sakura season foods!

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All that sweet potato and mochi. It was really delicious!!

I want to eat more traditional desserts.  :loveword:

No matter what time of year you’re in Kyoto I really recommend these two spots. Their delicious and easy to get to if you’re in Arashiyama. I want to try more places when I’m back in two weeks for koyo but I doubt I will find any as convenient.

I have some Hiroshima koyo posts coming up along with contact lens and eating healthy. Stay tuned!

Update! Google Maps of my Kyoto Food and Sweets recommendations

I love Arashiyama! I’ve got more Arashiyama posts coming for Sakura season but please enjoy the previous Fall posts and monkeys

More Kyoto posts? I’ve got you covered from tourist things to gyaru and fashion

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With November coming up it’s a great time to talk about my favorite season in Japan: Koyo or autumn leaves. Kyoto Koyo (葉 こうよう) is unrivaled in how seriously gorgeous it is. I previously posted about Kyoto Koyo in Tenryu-ji temple in Arashiyama, but I definitely was even more impressed by Okochi Sanso.

Near the famous Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama is Okochi Sanso. It’s a quick walk (10 minutes) out the back exit of Tenryu-ji through the famous bamboo grove then to Okochi Sanso. If you think the bamboo grove is epic, prepare for Okochi Sanso.

Okochi Sanso is a mountaintop retreat by silent film star Okochi Denjiro. After his death it has been turned into a visiting place with lovely gardens. The admission is pricey for a garden-style visit at 1,000 yen ($10) but the price does include the best place I’ve ever had tea. It’s not as stunning for sakura season, koyo is where it shines. Don’t adjust your monitors, because I didn’t adjust these pictures much. It really is that vibrant for Kyoto Koyo.

 

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In these pictures I’m really happy I got to take and show everyone enjoying it. Couples, women traveling together, old men savoring Japan. There’s just a pleasantness about it. That kind of sightseeing is so nice compared to everyone filing into the Sistine Chapel or such.

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Okochi Sanso is very high up and depending on where you’re walking around on the grounds you can see neighboring mountains. The Japanese untranslatable word Komorebi (木漏れ日) for light streaming through the trees is really evident during koyo.

The Scenic “Tea House” at Okochi Sanso

Entrance allows you to enjoy a cup of freshly whisked green tea and a green tea biscuit in gorgeous surroundings.

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Check out that technicolor entrance! Kyoto Koyo is the best especially at Okochi Sanso.

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This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve gotten to enjoy a snack ever.

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Delicious green tea biscuit and green tea. The thumb of my fun manga-eye nails I did at Avarice last year.

 

Head to Kyoto for Koyo

arashiyama Kyoto koyo

Even if you decide not to hike from Tenryu-ji through the bamboo forest to Okochi Sanso, Kyoto Koyo especially in Arashiyama is amazing! The colors, the nature, the clear water, the amazing food, or the cute monkeys (post)! I’ve visited Arashiyama three times and I just can’t get bored. It’s so beautiful.

Just looking at these pictures makes me check airline prices.  :sadcat:

I have one more post about Arashiyama, this one is a restaurant recommendation, before Koyo happens. If you’re making travel plans please stay tuned!

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Kyoto Koyo is one of the most amazing natural experiences I’ve ever had in Japan and yet I never really knew about it. My friend Alice and I kept trying to plan a vacation together while I was in Tokyo so we decided to go to Osaka, but most every hotel under $300 a night was booked and everything was completely sold out on weekends. I’ve traveled Japan during Golden Week and Sakura season, but nothing prepared me for Koyo!

Koyo (紅葉 こうよう Kouyou but usually romanized as Koyo) means autumn leaves. Kyoto Koyo is a spectacle and one of the biggest tourist draws.

Unlike sakura every country has autumn leaves and the changes are wonderful, but what is striking about Japan is the red maple or もみじ/momiji. Momiji is so blistering red that they look hyperreal and almost fake. November Kyoto was wonderful sunny chilly weather to hike around the mountains and hills of Arashiyama (previous post).

All these photos were taken at Tenryu-ji (天龍寺) in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered one of the temples in Kyoto. Admission was 600yen and it’s considered one of the best spots in all of Japan to experience Koyo.

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Tenryu-ji is a zen temple and well known for its water feature (above) and garden.

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Against the pale and forest greens the red is just so shocking.

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A lot of young couples were dressed up in traditional kimono for their Koyo pictures. As I’ve said before about Arashiyama, it’s the place Japanese go to get their “wa” filled tourist on.

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The entrance to the shrine was very packed, but after I got through the gates it didn’t feel packed.

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In order to get to the burning red maple, Momiji change to this pretty burnt yellow hue first.

Fall and Spring are my favorite times to visit Japan and I just got another reason why. Isn’t Kyoto Koyo amazing?

If you’re planning a fall trip to Japan, I really recommend going to see the koyo especially the Kyoto koyo. Koyo Walker (http://koyo.walkerplus.com/) is an excellent site like its sister Hanami Walker that provides region-by-region daily updates on peak koyo viewing times.

This is part one of my Kyoto Koyo travel report. My next one features a tea room in natural settings and a climb around a Japanese garden.

As usual I like to discuss how much I spent on a travel day in Japan. I was already in Kyoto but had to use the subways which wasn’t covered in my Japan Rail Pass. That was 500 yen. My garden entrance and temple entrance fees were 1,600 yen in total. My big splurge traditional Kyoto meal (post later) was 1,700. I also got some traditional Kyoto sweet snacks for 600 yen. I had breads for dinner and a tea which was 1,000 yen.

So transport: 500 yen
Tourist fees: 1,600 yen
Meals: 3,200

So even with my splurge meal I spent only 5,300 or $52.00 for the day not including Rail Pass and Hotel.

Again one of my more expensive days in Japan and yet not so expensive.