Fathom Favorites : Kyoto

1. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Behind the beautiful Tenryu-ji Temple lies an extensive bamboo grove with what feels miles and miles of towering bamboo stalks. Follow the winding path and feel like you're parting the green sea.

12 Saganonomiya-cho
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku 616-8393

2. Tenryuji Shigetsu

A reservation is necessary at this tatami mat restaurant inside Arashiyama's Tenryuji Temple. And you'll need a Japanese speaker to make it. But being able to eat shojin ryori (sophisticated vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) in such a serene setting is worth the extra work. 

68 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku 616-8385

3. Izuju

Across the street from Yasaka Shrine on Shijo-dori (the main drag), this small century-old restaurant dishes out insane Kyoto-style sushi, which has a much higher rice-to-fish ratio and incorporates more cured fish (because the city historically had a hard time securing fresh stock). Everything on the menu is worth a try, but of particular note is hakozushi, a block of vinegar rice topped with mackerel, and inarizushi, rice and vegetables inside deep-fried tofu.

292 Gionmachi Kitagawa
Kyoto, Higashiyama-ku 605-0073

4. Honke Owariya

The oldest soba and buckwheat confectionary shop in town, dating back to 1465. The two-floor restaurant is famous (expect to wait) but not at all hectic — expect to hear no more than whispers and slurping. At the cashier, a pack of soba noodles make for a good souvenir, and a box of mochi will pull through as a solid afternoon snack. 

322 Niomontsukinukecho
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0841

5. Mizuki

Located in the Ritz Carlton, this Japanese restaurant showcases four traditional Japanese cuisines (kaiseki haute cuisine, sushi, tempura, and teppanyaki) in various settings. 

Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0902

6. Monk

Nordic-meets-California-cuisine served in a restaurant located along Philosopher's Walk, a favorite spot for viewing cherry blossoms. The fourteen-seat restaurant is just under six months old and reservations are a must. Yoshihiro Imai, the owner and chef, forages nearby farms and local markets for ingredients each morning to create artful four- and seven-course dinners. Request seats at the bar so you can watch him in action.

147 Jodoji Shimominamida-cho
Kyoto, Sakyo-ku 606-8404

7. Hotel Anteroom Kyoto

Hotel rooms and apartments just south of Kyoto station are stylish and comfortable — like staying at that (rich) artist friend's home. The lobby hosts an art gallery with rotating exhibitions. Rooms are cozy and well-stocked with contemporary amenities.

7 Aketa-cho Higashi-Kujo
Kyoto, Minami-ku 601-8044

8. Hoshinoya

Hinoki (Japanese cedar) is prevalent in the merchant villa-turned-ryokan perched on a cliff over Hozugawa River and five-minutes from the popular Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Guests take cedar boats to the hotel, pad around on heated wooden floors, and luxuriate in deep soaking tubs in the expansive rooms. Sit down for a fifteen-course haute-cuisine kaiseki meal at the teahouse restaurant headed executive chef Ichiro Kubota.

Read more on Fathom: Old-World Japan: What's Quintessential in Kyoto

11-2, Genrokuzan-cho
Kyoto, Nishikyo-ku 616-0007

9. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

A grand hotel that embraces the age-old Japanese traditions of refinement and elegance. The discreet 134-room retreat sits on the banks of Kamogawa River — opt for a garden terrace suite for floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river and a private Zen garden. Look for traditional and contemporary Japanese design accents, like calligraphy artwork and bathroom tiles inspired by sakuras. As if that's not enough, a top-notch concierge will help score the most impossible of reservations.

Read more on Fathom: An Elegant Retreat in Japan's Imperial City

Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0902

10. Evam Eva

A sweet, calming boutique a few blocks north of Nishiki Market that sells clothing made in Japan. If you want that effortlessly classy, flowy look all the locals are sporting, shop here. Just note that sizes run on the small side. 

100 Aburaya-cho (Yanaginobanbadori)
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-8103

11. Uragu

This small design studio tucked away at the end of the smallest alleyway in Gion sells even smaller paper products, like ippitsu-ori (a memo pad with bellows), ippitsu-tsuka (a memo block boxed in ceramic), kansu (a guest book for recording), and kiccho (a fold-out notebook for memorial days). Really a find, if you can find it. (Here's the map.)

297 Miyagawasuji 4-chome
Kyoto, Higashiyama-ku 605-0801

12. Otsuka-Gofutuken

Across the road from Arabica Kyoto in Higashiyama is this shop selling modern, high-end kimono. Find very special yukata (lightweight cotton robes) and beachy geta (wooden clogs). 

88-1 Hoshinocho
Kyoto, Higashiyama-ku 605-0853

13. Ichizawa Shinzaburo

A longstanding producer of canvas bags (backpacks, weekenders) that began in Kyoto over 100 years ago with a tote modeled after the traditional milkman's bag. 

602 Takabatake-cho
Kyoto, Higashiyama-ku 605-0017

14. Kaikado

The family-run shop has been crafting beautiful brass, tin, and copper cylinder tea caddies for nearly 150 years.

84-1 Umeminato-cho
Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku 600-8127

15. Ippodo

A 300-year-old tea parlor and iconic Japanese brand.

52 Tokiwagichō
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0915