I walked more than 100 miles in Kyoto. Here are 5 new places worth visiting

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More artisanal shops are popping up, many of them not far from the city’s most famous sights.

Here are five of my favorites.

O’C More artisanal shops are popping up — many not far from the city’s most famous sights.

Here are five of my favorites.

O’Chill — for meditation and tea

Opened in June 2023

Closest to: Kyoto Imperial Palace (12 minutes)

The path to the front door of O’Chill.
Source: Morgan Awyong

Curiosity was my main motivation to visit O’Chill, which allows visitors the chance to drink — and smoke — tea. The path to the front door of O’Chill.

Source: Morgan Awyong

The path to the front door of O’Chill.010010 The hookahs are given to guests, but the tobacco is replaced with tea leaves. The experience is a form of “shiko-hin,”

or self-nurturing ritual, he said. The experience is a form of “shiko-hin,”

or self-nurturing ritual, he said. “We believe that any lifestyle is good if the person is happy,” Wataru said.

My eyes widened with the first puff.

Rokuhichido — for paper objects

Opened in April 2023

Close to: Hokan-ji Temple (1 minute)

Rokuhichido — for paper objects
Opened in April 2023

Close to: Hokan-ji Temple (1 minute)

Visitors shop the handmade paper products at Rokuhichido.

Source: Morgan Awyong

With all eyes on the famous five-story pagoda nearby, it is easy to miss Rokuhichido, a shop that makes Japanese paper products using methods like silk screen printing and paper cutting.

The brand first gained popularity with postcards, then expanded to produce playful paper balloons and miniature figurines, shaped like marine animals or places like Mount Fuji.

Designs are based on Japanese traditions and culture, the four seasons and landscapes, manager Shota Yamada said. Its ukiyo-e postcards, featuring classic motifs like geisha and shogun, are the most popular, he added.

“Depending on the product, a single craftsman can produce only a few dozen of our products per day,” said Yamada.

Gokago — for matcha drinks and food
Opened in June 2023

Close to: Kiyomizudera Temple (2 minutes)

The front door to Gokago.

Source: Morgan Awyong

There’s no shortage of matcha cafes in Kyoto, but no one does it quite like Gokago. The green tea is ground in the cafe and used in drinks, donuts, ice creams and more. “Since experiencing the traditional tea ceremony can be a hurdle, we thought it was important to offer it in a casual style to make it accessible to as many people as possible,” he said.

Admittedly, the experience here doesn’t replace the real thing, but it’s still a great stop for an authentic matcha brew en route to Kiyomizudera, one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. And visitors get to see the precise movements and formal presentation of the ingredients, which is part of the ritualistic grace of a formal ceremony.

Kaji Kyoto — for Peruvian and Japanese fine dining

Opened in May 2023
Closest to: Nishiki Market (11 minutes)

Food at the Peruvian Japanese restaurant, Kaji Kyoto.

Source: Morgan Awyong

Traditional restaurants are everywhere in Kyoto, but Kaji Kyoto isn’t one of them.

“I want guests to leave Kaji and see how Japanese people that left Japan had to adapt because the ingredients they had were different — and were just as delicious,” said head chef Keone Koki.

Koki brings his Peruvian heritage to Japanese cooking, in one example using passion fruit from Okinawa as a marinade for a tiradito, an onion-free ceviche. The sashimi is also different because most are eaten only with shoyu, he added. The effect is much like a performance, with Koki and his crew of five endearing themselves to guests with light banter.

Fuku Coffee Roastery — for specialty coffee

Opened in March 2023

Close to: Kennin-ji Temple (4 minutes)
Fuku Coffee Roastery is in a machiya, or traditional wooden townhouse, that Morio Ajiki inherited from his grandmother.

I initially thought this was a coffeehouse, but I found out from Morio Ajiki that his company provides high quality coffee beans to businesses.

Luckily, visitors can still drop by for a cup.

“There were customers stopping by my shop who wanted to try my coffee,” Ajiki said. “I decided to serve the customers who came into my shop and wanted to try my coffee,” Ajiki said. You can easily strike up a chat with Ajiki. He will probably pop through the sliding doors leading to his house. The store’s name is derived from his cat. The roastery features products created by local artists. Kyoto’s artisans are known for their mutual respect, making discoveries like these well worth the walk.