Kyoto’s Outdoor River Restaurants

Restaurants along the Kamogawa river in summer

Seeing all this rain we are getting here in Los Angeles and the freeways suddenly turning into rivers, my thoughts turned to the Kamogawa River in Kyoto. Summer is traditionally the month when eating and drinking places along the banks of the Kamo River build large wooden platforms, called “yuka”. This past summer I experienced it for the 2nd time and it is indeed an unforgettable and always relaxing experience.

 

Restaurants along the Kamogawa river in summer

Restaurants along the Kamogawa river in summer

Back alleys along Kamogawa in Kyoto
Back alleys along Kamogawa in Kyoto
Restaurants along the Kamogawa river
Restaurants along the Kamogawa river

Kyoto summers are said to be the hottest and most humid in all of Japan. This has a lot to do with the fact that the city is surrounded on three sides by mountains, which makes it hard for the heat and humidity to escape. This is why outdoor yuka dining is so popular and so perfectly suited to relaxing at the end of a long, hot summer day.

Yuka extend east (facing the Kamo River) from many downtown restaurants and make for an unforgettable location for a relaxing, fine dinner. These open-air dining areas are unique to Kyoto and, though they have a reputation for being very expensive, I was really surprised at how reasonable the prices can be. In addition to the beautiful views over the river and the eastern skyline and the excellent food, the lively, open setting makes for good company.

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