Home » Finding the Best Kyoto Food Tour in Gion: Top 3 Experiences
Best Kyoto Food Your in Gion

Finding the Best Kyoto Food Tour in Gion: Top 3 Experiences

If you’re looking for the best Kyoto food tour you’ve found the right article. The Gion district is a wonderful place to take walking food tours. A walk through the corridors takes you back to the traditional times of the Edo period three hundred years ago.

The quaint streets lined with wooden houses remain as they were. One of Kyoto’s main cultural hubs, it’s also possible to catch a glimpse of actively working Geisha and Maiko during the bustling and vibrant nights. Plus, its many restaurants, tea houses, and bars combine with the history of the area to create the setting for some of the best Kyoto food tours.

Deserving the reputation of being a gastronomic paradise, you’ll find many traditional foods unique to Japan in the area. You can try the multi-course Kaiseki at an upscale restaurant in a tatami room, street food like yakitori, plenty of izakayas to go on your first Kyoto bar hopping tour, and a plethora of ornate tea houses.

A walk through the area won’t disappoint, either. Starting from Gion Shijo Station, you’ll find the famous Yasaki Shrine close at hand. The picturesque streets of the Shirakawa neighborhood and Pontocho also draw crowds for the architecture. You’ll find plenty of spots to send you back in time and make for great photo opportunities.

Also, be sure to check out this review we wrote of the Ramen Factory Tour Kyoto.

Dive into Japanese cuisine, culture, and life with one of the tours listed here. Either way, definitely don’t skip Gion on your trip to Japan.

What is the Best Luxury Kyoto Food?

The best Kyoto food tour for luxury Japanese cuisine

Evening Gion and Kaiseki Kyoto Tour

Overview

As a cultural center and highlight to all of Japan, and especially Kyoto, the Gion district is rich in history and culinary arts. You’ll find in this wonderfully preserved world of Edo elegance stories of love and longing, riches and loss, which your guide will ensure to relay during the walking tour portion.

While you walk, get a taste of Kyoto street food. Sample some of the famous night foods to whet your appetite.

Upon arriving at the final destination you’ll be introduced to fine dining Japanese culture style. Traditional Japanese food galore awaits your introduction to the Kaiseki meal. This 10-course meal features all traditional dishes and is a highlight of Kyoto’s food scene.

Food and Drinks on the Tour

Experience Japanese food like this dish of roe and green tea rice

This is a rare treat that many visiting Kyoto miss. You’ll see a side of Japanese cuisine and Kyoto night food that includes and goes beyond the usual street food. Made with all seasonal ingredients, you’re taste buds will thank you, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience in a traditional Japanese restaurant.

Some of the dishes you may taste on the street and at the Kaiseki meal include:

  • Plum wine
  • Shrimp
  • Various kinds of Japanese soups
  • Grilled fish
  • Meat dishes, such as duck or beef
  • Miso soup and rice
  • Dessert
  • Japanese tea
  • And more!

Before the tour, you’ll also sample Japanese treats or street food as your tour guide explains the area.

Locations and Route

  • Begin at the Japan Kanji Musuem
  • Walk through Gion (various locations)
  • Gion Shirakawa neighborhood – the most famous of the neighborhoods in Gion for its breathtaking river lined with willows among traditional houses
  • Various streets, temples, shrines, and bridges
  • End at the restaurant for the multi-course meal
Shirakawa neighborhood in Kyoto is part of the best Kyoto Food tour walking portion

Tour Price and Booking

From JYP 29,500 (at the time of writing, about USD 200) on Arigato Japan. Check the exchange rate for up-to-date prices in your local currency.

Rating

The tour has 5 stars on various travel websites, including Viator, Travel Advisor, and Get Your Guide.

However, it is not currently offered on Viator.

Out of 32 rating on Travel Advisor, 30 ratings are 5 stars, 1 rating is 4 stars, and 1 rating is 3 stars. 0 ratings are below three stars at the time of writing.

What People Are Saying: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Saw real Maiko and Geisha on the walk
  • Charming tour guide
  • Lots of interesting stories and details
  • The area was gorgeous
  • Kaiseki was delicious and the perfect ending
  • Highly recommended

Cons:

  • One person was unsatisfied with the kaiseki meal

Additional Info and FAQ

  • Will we actually see Geisha and Maiko?
    • Very possible and even likely. Geisha and Maiko are busy in the evening hours traveling from venue to venue to perform. While not guaranteed, it is likely!
  • Is this tour family-friendly?
    • Yes, it is family-friendly and has special pricing for children, including being free for toddlers.
  • I don’t drink alcohol. Are there other options available?
    • Yes! Both soft drinks and local non-alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase.
  • Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
    • It is not explicitly stated. You might try to email Arigato Tours directly for more information. Their contact email is bookings@arigatojapan.co.jp
  • Will the guide speak English?
    • Yes. The guide will speak English well and explain in English.
  • Are there vegetarian options?
    • Yes. Arigato Tours asks you to contact them ahead of your visit to ensure they can adequately prepare for vegetarians. Japan tends to not have default vegetarian options, so they likely have to contact their locations ahead of time to make accommodations.
  • What is the size of the tour?
    • A maximum of 10 participants
  • Is this tour open to solo travelers?
    • Solo travelers should inquire ahead of time to join a group. There is a minimum of two people required for the tour, or an additional charge may be paid for a private tour.

What is the Best Restaurant Hopping Kyoto Food Tour?

Kyoto Night Foodie Tour

Overview

If you’re a foodie, this is one of the best Japan food tours you can experience.

Pontocho (先斗町)is Kyoto City’s most photographed and atmospheric street. On both sides of the street, numerous traditional establishments serve up dishes ranging from exclusive, invite-only kaiseki course meals to open-air food stalls serving yakitori. Further down the street, on a clear evening in the summer the shops on the east side open up to the Kamado River, and patrons sit outside to enjoy the pleasant air and view on temporary platforms.

The many dining options and hidden gems in the area make for a great Izakaya and drinking night foodie tour. See the famous street and the surrounding area with your guide as you pop in and out of three establishments for Kyoto’s cuisine and drinks. Visit places foreigners rarely see, and try local food and mouthwatering dishes with full explanations from your English-speaking guide.

Food and Drinks on the Tour

Try Japanese fried Chicken (kaarage) on the best Kyoto food tour for night food

Some of the good food and drinks you are likely to eat are:

  • Dango (Japanese sweets of round dumplings of glutinous rice flour skewered and fried)
  • Matcha cake (cake with green tea powder topping)
  • Obanzai (native Kyoto local cuisine dishes of vegetables)
  • Sushi and sashimi
  • Oden (a kind of Japanese stew with varied ingredients)
  • Karaage (Japanese fried chicken)
  • Kinds of fish cakes
  • Tempura
  • Beer and sake

Note: The exact food available may depend on the season

Locations and Route

  • Start in Gion Shirakawa – an otherworldly neighborhood where it is common to see Geisha in the evening hours
  • Visit your first traditional restaurant for drinks and obanzai
  • Hit the narrow streets of Pontocho and its surroundings for your second round of food and drinks
  • End with a standing izakaya bar
A lantern on Pontocho Street in the Ginza, Kyoto District

Tour Price and Booking

From USD 151.05 on Viator.

Rating

5 stars from 536 reviews.

Of the 536 reviews, 583 reviews gave 5 stars and 27 gave 4 stars. At the time of writing, 26 reviews gave three stars or lower.

What People Are Saying: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Best food tour in Kyoto
  • An enjoyable experience
  • Informative guide
  • Beautifully designed with excellent locations
  • Great way to experience Japanese cuisine and sake

Cons:

  • Depends on the guide if you learn history or not
  • On the expensive side
  • Lots of walking between restaurants

Additional Info and FAQ

  • Will we actually see Geisha and Maiko?
    • Very possible. Geisha and Maiko are in the area. The tour is not specifically designed to run into the performers, but they may be seen during your walk.
  • Is this tour family-friendly?
    • Yes, it is family-friendly.
  • I don’t drink alcohol. Are there other options available?
    • Yes! Both soft drinks and local non-alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase.
  • Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
    • The tour does not accommodate wheelchairs, unfortunately.
  • Will the guide speak English?
    • Yes. The guide will speak English well or fluently.
  • Are there vegetarian options?
    • Yes, but you should contact the tour operator (Magical Trip) ahead of time. Japanese restaurants do not typically offer vegetarian options by default.
  • What is the size of the tour?
    • A maximum of 7 participants
  • Is this tour open to solo travelers?
    • Solo travelers may join. It is encouraged to join tours to make new friends in the city on your trip.

What is the best Traditional Tea Ceremony Tour?

Traditional tea ceremony green tea and utensils

Overview

This is the perfect tour to dig deep into a specific and delicious aspect of Japanese culture.

The tea ceremony began with Samurai in the 9th Century. It played an important role in searching for peace of mind and was a method of conducting meetings and diplomacy. In addition, it displayed one’s power. Valuable and ornately crafted tea utensils showed the wealth of the samurai.

In modern times, the tea ceremony is still very much alive. Practitioners put aside their cares and allow the ceremony to imbue peace into their lives through the calm rituals of making and serving tea.

On this tour, you will discover more about the rich history described above. Your local guide at Maikoya Tea House will lead you through wearing a kimono and teach you the cultural importance of the ceremony. Then, you will experience the tradition with matcha green tea.

Maiyoko is one of the most beautiful tea houses in the Gion area. After imbibing, take photos in your kimono or dressed as a samurai in the traditional setting.

Food and Drinks on the Tour

  • Matcha tea
  • Traditional snacks

Locations and Route

Tatami room like the one used for the traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto

The tea house is near Kawaramachi Station, a bit north of Nishiki Market.

Tour Price and Booking

From USD 58.23 on Viator.

Rating

5 stars from 400 reviews on Viator and 5 stars from 672 reviews on Trip Advisor.

What People Are Saying: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Highly recommended for a lady’s day out
  • Beautiful location
  • Wonderful kimonos, hair, and makeup
  • Rich cultural experience
  • Lots of history and information
  • Delicious tea

Cons:

  • The tea ceremony was only 30 minutes of the experience
  • A few people had to wait 30+ minutes after their tour time to begin

Additional Info and FAQ

Try on a kimono for the best Kyoto food tour and tea ceremony experience
  • Is this tour family-friendly?
    • Yes, however, children under 7 will not be able to join.
  • Will we learn to make tea?
    • Yes. Part of the ceremony is reciprocally making matcha tea for others.
  • Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
    • This tour does not accommodate wheelchairs, unfortunately.
  • Will the guide speak English?
    • Yes. The guide will speak English well or fluently.
  • What is the size of the tour?
    • A maximum of 5 when booked via Viator.
  • Is this tour open to solo travelers?
    • Solo travelers may join. You may be paired with another group.

Summary

A visit to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing Gion. One of these tours will ensure you get the most out of your experience by both seeing and tasting the real culture of Kyoto city.

We hope you enjoyed this list and best of luck on your next adventure.

Traveling to Japan? Be sure to also check out our list of the best Tokyo food tours as well.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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