For great shojin ryori, look no further than Daitokuji Ikkyu. This Zen temple vegetarian restaurant is the oldest existing one of its kind in Kyoto – it’s over 500 years old!
Daitokuji Ikkyu – image © Chris Rowthorn
Compared to other cities in Japan, Kyoto has a relatively greater number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants to choose from. Plus, there are some excellent shojin ryori (Buddhist temple vegetarian cuisine) places in town, which serve exquisitely prepared multi-course vegetarian meals. Who said that fine dining was only for omnivores here? One of our favourite restaurants in town is Daitokuji Ikkyu, located just outside the eponymous Daitokuji Temple.
At Daitokuji Ikkyu, you’ll eat your way through the seasons, especially the possibilities inherent in plant and soy. You might have fresh gluten simmered in soy sauce, pickled turnip rolls with wasabi, a canola blossom salad tossed in a creamy mustard-spiked tofu dressing, vegetarian chawanmushi, or sesame tofu made with arrowroot and sesame. Their pickles deserve special mention! With the endless variety in tastes and texture, vegetarian eating has never been so vibrant and interesting.
Though most shojin ryori restaurants are lunch-only affairs, Daitokuji Ikkyu is one of the few that does a dinner service. This is great if you are, for example, vegan but looking for a special multi-course meal in the evening to finish your day, rather than at lunch. The dinner service is correspondingly more pricey, with courses beginning at JPY8000. (There’s a cheaper lunch set available at around JPY4000 per person.)
There are a few important things to take note here. One is that reservations are required. Another is that they will accept customers entering for dinner only up till 6:00pm – you won’t be able to make a reservation for a start time of after 6:00pm. This does mean you’ll have a fairly early dinner. But, for a fine shojin ryori meal like this, it’s worth the hassle of making a reservation and travelling up this way.
For more Kyoto shojin ryori choices, see our Best Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
20 Murasakino-shimomonzen-cho, Kita-ku
Non-smoking area: Yes
2min walk from Daitokuji-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 101 or 204 or 205 or 206 from Kitaoji Station, Karasuma subway line
Official site (Japanese)
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)