After our hike down from the mountain we had arrived in Kibune. Kibune (貴船) is a small town in a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, which developed around Kifune Shrine. According to legend, a goddess traveled in a boat from Osaka all the way up the river into the mountains north of Kyoto, and Kifune Shrine was built at the site where her boat journey had come to an end.
We were pretty hungry and we noticed the street was lined with kawadoko style restaurants. This was a very traditional way of dining in the summer so we decided to head inside. We arrived 10 minutes before last orders so we had the restaurant to ourselves haha, it was sick!
Kawayuka, or Kawadoko as it is known outside of central Kyoto, is the summer pasttime of dining outdoors on temporary platforms built over flowing water. Developed as a way to beat the summer heat, kawayuka is a great way to experience one of the traditional Kyoto cuisines listed above while taking in the cooling effects of the flowing water and lively summer atmosphere. The most famous area to experience kawayuka is along the Kamogawa River in central Kyoto, especially around Pontocho. From May to September, restaurants here construct temporary wooden decks over the canal on the river’s west bank. Many places serve kaiseki meals, however other types of cuisine are also available.
Kibune and Takao in the forested mountains just north of central Kyoto, are also popular places to try kawayuka, although here it is called kawadoko. In Kibune especially, the platforms are built just centimetres above the river and provide almost complete relief from the summer heat.
Our host, Junko San, was so funny, super lovely and very chatty haha. She even asked me about english lessons for her granddaughter which was sweet. I asked her if I could get a portrait of her outside her restaurant to which she posed in the most sassiest fashion! She was great.
One of the most awesome and unique parts of a Kyoto summer is “kawadoko”, temporary dining platforms set up over rivers. Between the soothing sound of the water and the coolness of the air passing under you, it’s a lovely experience. I went to one restaurant offering kawadoko in the Kibune area (though not this exact restaurant) last summer, and really enjoyed it.
If you are a tourist going to Kyoto and want to check this out for yourself, have your hotel or agent find a kawadoko restaurant and call days ahead to get reservations. They tend to sell out fast!