kyoto city guide

Here’s a small step into the streets of Kyoto. Wanderlust has always had me by the throat, but I don’t think I could have ever dreamed of how travel would take over my life. I really tried to be content with my home in the south, tried so hard I succeeded. But that’s the brilliant thing about life. Once you accept reality, doors open. When I accepted that my home was a small town in Tennessee (even though I’d always dreamed of broader horizons), all of the sudden those horizons unfolded before me. Life is long. Failure and success are funny things. Adversity is your frienemy. And travel is my life blood. I’d dreamed of Japan for so many years, ignorantly assumed I’d love it despite not knowing a thing about it. But it was one of those situations where you were right, so right, even with no cause to be.

Kyoto is one of our favorite cities in the world. It’s liveable, relatively small, but so foreign to me and so very old. There are canals with weeping willows dripping over the banks; covered markets brimming with Japanese spices, teas, and produce; narrow Pontocho alley full of restaurants & glowing lanterns; and all of it scattered with ancient temples & shrines. Below are some of our favorite places. I never leave without getting a knife & gifts at Aritsuga in the Nishiki Market, some Japanese brooms & brushes at the little broom store, and a stop in Stardust & Monk, both of which will be featured more in depth in coming posts as there is too much to say & show here. And, for the record, if you use AirBnB and discover a Hello Kitty room in Kyoto and think it would be hilarious and a childhood fantasy to stay there…don’t. It smells like dead people. Just saying. Stick to the inn we recommend below. Find a clickable map with our top spots at the bottom of the post for ease of navigating if you’re in the city!

Edit: Now sold out! There is a strong chance that we will hold a 10 day Escape in Japan in November for 6 guests. The Escape would take guests from the hot sprigs of the south in Kurokawa to the old post towns of Tsumago & Magome in the Kiso Valley and all the way up to a hidden hot spring village in the northern mountains. You can get on our mailing list at L | M Retreats here to hear more about that if it materializes and also to get information on other upcoming retreats, workshops, and escapes.I’d also like to announce that our 3rd annual Japan Wabi-Sabi Retreat is now open for registration! It’s hosted at a traditional onsen, a hot spring fed bathhouse, and we spend our time exploring the local ceramic village, eating authentic traditional Japanese cuisine, rejuvenating in the hot springs, and doing photography workshops. It is, first and foremost a travel experience, carefully planned & curated to be a once in a life time trip that will leave our guests inspired. Click here for more information & to reserve a spot. 


Len Hostel








Azukiya B&B







kyoto-local-milk-wander-guide-15 kyoto-local-milk-wander-guide-14




The Broom Shop




Top 5 Kyoto:

1. Stardust
2. Monk
3. Wife & Husband
4. Aritsuga Knives
5. Naito Shoten


1. Monk, 147 Jodojishimominamida-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 606-8404

Yoshi Imai is the philosopher and chef behind the 12 seat restaurant Monk along the philosophers path near Ginkakujin in Kyoto. After working with the internationally acclaimed Noma at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo he is inspired to create locally sourced seasonal food and evokes emotions by highlighting the ingredients through simple preparations. “It is possible to express the beauty and the life of the vegetable”

2. Stardust41 Shichiku Shimotakedonocho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8412, Japan 

Stardust is a vegan food & raw sweets cafe meets immaculately curated shop of home goods & clothing. As Kana, the owner, puts it on her website, “Like all elements of the universe, did you know that your body is made of stardust? When a star dies, it burns brilliantly before exploding down into tiny bits of energy and matter. Its life force is reborn in you. When you look up at twinkling stars in the sky, you are seeing a part of yourself shining back. You are a star brought down to earth. Until the time when your light returns back to the universe, you carry that same brightness inside of you. When the radiant stars among us gather together here at Stardust, we can spark a new light.”

3. Beer Komachi444 Hachikencho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

A hip little craft beer dive situated in a narrow alley in Higashiyama. Friendly staff (generally English speaking as well) + cheap eats in the form of Japanese pickles, sashimi, smoked fish, and addictive small plates this is one of our favorite spots to both grab a quick bite or to wile away hours with friends.

4. AWOMB, Japan, 〒604-8213 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 中京区姥柳町189

Sushi that doubles as modern art. As enticing for the food as for the visuals. You’re presented with a beuaitful array of sushi fixings in their minimalist studio style space, and then you assemble your own sushi. Definitely an experience worth having.

5. Omoto, 554, Sujikaibashi-cho, 2, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

A small, hidden little restaurant with an excellent chef. He serves a menu of small bites on skewers with various dipping sauces, and the restaurant, which consists of two tables and a small bar, is housed in a 100 year old former Machiya. A must eat.

6. Hale198 Higashiuoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8055, Japan

Vegan, monk style eats in the heart of Kyoto. Simple, traditional dishes prepared in the style of temples. Another great haunt.


1. Keibunsha10 Ichijoji Haraitonocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8184, Japan

 A passionately curated home goods store & bookshop, it’s the perfect place to find everything from knives & ceramics to a linen sun hat & baby clothes. And, of course, loads of books.

2. Stardust41 Shichiku Shimotakedonocho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8412, Japan

See description above.

3. Hanaya Mitate41 Shichiku Shimotakedonocho, Kita Ward,Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8412, Japan

4. Aritsugu Knives604 8052, 213 Kajiyacho (Nishikikojidori), Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8052, Japan 

5. Alpaca, contact before visiting

6. Naito ShotenSanjo Ohashi Nishi-zume, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8004 JAPAN

A small broom store established in 1880 with a variety of palm brooms, brushes, and household goods. I can never leave here without a bag full.

Coffee & Beer

1. Len Hostel, Japan, 〒600-8028, 京都府京都市 下京区植松町709

Eat, Drink, Stay, Caffeinate. Len Hostel is a great place to plant roots while in Kyoto as it’s a hostel attached to a café with great coffee, food, and craft beer all in a well designed, aesthetically pleasing space.

2. Akatsuki Coffee左京区一乗寺赤ノ宮町15-1 1階, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8182, Japan

A minimal yet warm coffee shop that acts as a slow living, laptop free zone. 

3. Arabica %87-5 Hoshinocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0853, Japan

Arabica % is home to world latte art champion Junichi Yamaguchi. Aside from amazing latte art the shop sources and roasts their own coffee in store.

4. Sentido, 445 Sasayachō (Higashinotoindori), Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Sentido has been open for several years and is focused on bringing amazing coffee to Kyoto. A stop for the true coffee enthusiast.

5. Wife & HusbandKita-ku, Koyamashimouchikawara cho 106-6, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8132, Japan


6. Beer Komachi, 444 Hachikencho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

7. Kyoto Brewing25-1 Nishikujyo, Takahatacho, Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8446


1. Len Hostel, Japan, 〒600-8028, 京都府京都市 下京区植松町709

2. Azukiya B&B, Japan, 〒605-0046 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 東山区東分木町272

1. Gion District, Gion, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

2. Nishiki Market 609 Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8054, Japan

3. Pontocho a narrow alley way in Kyoto’s central district packed with an array of restaurants from low key to reservations

4. Higashiyama District – a historic district that still has the visual appeal of old Kyoto

5. Philosopher’s Path – great during cherry blossom season as the streets are dripping with the, but equally as quiet and charming other times of year. And it’s where Monk, one of our favorite restaurants, is situated.

6. Fushimi Inari Shrine – an iconic Kyoto moment, a Shinto shrine with a hallway of torii gates

Click this map to get directions to some favorites on our list…it works from your mobile phone!

Kyoto Guide







Azukiya B&B



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