Kyoto visitors come here to enjoy dinner in atmospheric surroundings with a river view (in summer, you can also dine al fresco), as well as the opportunity to spot geiko (as geisha are known in Kyoto) and apprentices (maiko) hurrying to their appointments. While most of the tea houses are difficult to gain entry to without a connection and fat wallet, visitors will find a range of restaurants offering everything from inexpensive yakitori to modern cuisine.
For a deeper insight into Kyoto’s dining and nightlife culture, you can visit Pontocho Alley on a guided tour. On a food-focused tour, guides will steer you toward the best eateries, help with language challenges, and prevent you from making any faux pas.
Things to know before you go
*Some restaurants in Pontocho Alley do not allow foreigners; those that do typically have English menus. *Photography of geiko and maiko is not permitted without explicit permission. *Advance reservations are recommended on Fridays and Saturdays.
How to get there
Pontocho Alley is a three-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station, which is on the Hankyu line. The closest bus stop is Shijo Kawaramachi, which is served by lines 17 and 205 from Kyoto Station.
When to get there
Business hours and days vary among the restaurants and bars along Pontocho Alley, but most places are usually open from around 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Some places also open for lunch, but the atmosphere is better in the evening.
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