Category Archives: In Search of…

In Search of… the Craic

img_9202-medium In December 2008 my friend David Ewen and I (that’s us on the left) decided to go on an Irish pub crawl and see exactly what each place had to offer in terms of food, drink, music and the elusive craic. What follows is a list of the five pubs we visited,  a summary of what we found there and a map to each location.  For a fuller article, more pictures and directions click on the name of each pub. However, before I continue, I must say if you are only in Kyoto for a short time you shouldn’t be wasting precious time in Irish pubs at all, so stop reading now and go somewhere Japanese instead. This article is for long term residents only!

The Gael

img_9168-mediumVery popular with expats but has more character than your average chain pub. A good menu with plenty of vegetarian options. Irish music every week and jazz monthly. Six screens show major sporting events. The staff are very courteous and professional. Map.

Tadg’s (formerly Mc Loughlin’s)


A gastro-pub specialising in micro-brew beers, they even have a chocolate flavored beer! Stunning views over the river Kamo and the city. Very personable staff and a very likeable and chatty owner the house chef, Tadg. Map.

Dublin (formerly The Hill of Tara)

img_9116-medium Not the cosiest pub (perhaps because of it’s long, narrow interior) but with friendly staff and a good mix of Japanese and foreign punters. Excellent local musicians play Irish music here Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Map at the bottom of this link.


img_9192-mediumThe first Irish pub to open in Kyoto back in 2000, Field is all about the music. Irish music sessions are held twice a week and there is a recording and practice studio upstairs. Mostly Japanese punters here. It’s a nice place for a quiet pint. Map


img_9127-mediumMy personal favorite. Wonderful Irish style home-cooked food with lots of organic veggies and vegetarian options. A cosy atmosphere and a very friendly owner. The live music schedule is interestingly eclectic. Map.

Related article: Irish music at Cafe Woodnote

In Search of… Cafe Peace

I’ve noticed that a lot of people discover Deep Kyoto, when googling for Cafe Peace. Sadly, Kyoto’s famous animal-loving emporium of vegan fake meats, Heartland beer and happy hippy clutter closed earlier this year. However, the ideals of Cafe Peace are continued each year at the annual and ever popular vegetarian festival, and as for eateries, in Kyoto, vegetarians are spoilt for choice. Here’s a list of top vegan restaurants in the city. Just click on the name to read more about them.

The following restaurants are entirely vegan:

Cafe Proverbs [15:17], a new vegan restaurant that took over the old Cafe Peace location on Hyakumanben. Cafe Proverbs has more of an emphasis on good health than animal loving, the menu is good, it’s non-smoking and the staff are very friendly. The interior design however, with it’s plastic seating and glaring lights, is not as comfy as the old style cosiness of Cafe Peace. Map.

Kairasu: Good Japanese style set lunches in a comfortable, arty atmosphere. Map.

Sunny Place: Fake meats cooked in a Japanese style. Cosy and friendly and healthy to boot! Map.

Hale: Tucked away in a machiya just of Nishiki market, this restaurant specializes in yuba dishes. Map.

Mikoan: Affordable shojin ryori, jazz music, Guinness beer and shaved cats (in boxes). Map.

The following restaurants serve both vegan and non-vegan dishes:

Mole: Ambient music, lots of greenery, delicious chickpea curries, and humous sandwiches… Map.

Sunshine Cafe: Lots and lots of healthy organic goodies. Map.

Raju Indian Restaurant: They do a very good vegetarian set for ¥1,300. Map.

Falafel Garden: Crispy golden balls of goodness. Map.

Earth Kitchen Company: An organic bento shop. Vegan lunch boxes are also available. Map.

Obanzai: All you can eat, organic buffet. Map.

Vegetarian and Organic food supplies can be found here.

Online supplies can be found here.

I shall add more to this list as and when I find them. In the meantime recommendations are always welcome at There’s also a list of vegetarian restaurants that includes some shojin ryori temples up on Happy Cow.

In Search of… Vinyl

I have previously written about the record shop Prototype, managed by my good friend Yoshida-kun but I’ve been thinking it’s time I added a few more Kyoto record shops to the list. I asked friend and collector Nana H. (that’s her on the left spinning discs at Joao) to give me some pointers and she recommended the following stores.


A pure, minimalist store without much decoration, this place is very neat and tidy compared to some of the other record stores in town. Genres include: Blues, Gospel, Alternative, New Wave, Progressive Rock, Reggae, Ska, World music and Jazz. Says Nana: “Most of the stuff here isn’t new, maybe up to the 80’s, or if Hip-Hop then the 90’s. This is where you come if you want to know where the new stuff comes from.” Bootsy’s is on the 3rd floor of the Takase building on the south side of Sanjo, west of the bridge, about two doors down from the Lawson’s convenience store. Here is a map.
Open 12:00 – 20:00 seven days a week. Tel: 075-231-5078

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In Search of… Marmite.

The Deep Kyoto Guide to Import Stores

Living abroad, we all have one little something we miss from home, the absence of which makes our life seem less than complete. For me that thing I crave is Marmite; those little brown jars of nutritious yeasty goodness. A by-product of beer brewing (further evidence of the coolness of beer) this delicious goop is packed with B vitamins and has a uniquely funky taste. It is often used in soups, sandwiches, sauces, and as a hangover cure but as Paul Hartley’s The Marmite Cookbook shows there is no end to its versatility. I have to tell you, I love the stuff. And what is more I love Kyoto, partly because Marmite is so readily available here. Kyoto is blessed with many import stores so whether you are after Marmite or other intrinsic ingredients for that favorite dish, you shouldn’t have a problem. Here is a short guide to help you find those stores:

Jupiter is a huge emporium of imported goods in the underground Porta shopping complex in front of Kyoto Station. Sadly they don’t have Marmite, but they do have an impressive selection of confectionary and coffee, plus the usual cereals, imported booze and ingredients for Mexican, Italian & Asian cuisine. Coming towards Kyoto station from the north-east on Shiokoji Dori, take the first flight of stairs down and walk past Jeugia, Yamamoto and Inoda Coffee. Jupiter is on the left corner opposite Lotteria. You can find a simple map here and clever little 3-D map thingy here. Jupiter is number 107 on the map.
Open everyday from 9:00 ~ 21:00
Tel: 075-361-5981

There are now two Yamaya stores in Kyoto. One is in the basement of the Qanat shopping complex on Kawabata Dori, just north of Demachiyanagi. Another store has recently opened up just south of Oike on Karasuma Dori. Again, these stores serve the usual range of import goods but sadly no Marmite! They do have a very good cheese board though and I’m partial to their packet curries too.

Yamaya in Qanat Map
Open 10:00 ~ 21:00
Tel: 075-707-0731

Yamaya on Karasuma Map
Open 10:00 ~ 21:00
Tel: 075-254-4733

Way up on Shirakawa Dori, north of Mikage Dori, past the Donq bakery and just after the curiously named “Bosom” Italian restaurant sits Michael’s Supermarket. Here they sell a combination of imported goods, wines and everyday groceries. Again, no Marmite! But they do have a good selection of well-priced import beers.
Open: 10:00 ~ 23:00
Tel: 075-721-1846

On the east side of Higashioji Dori and just south of the Eiden Mototanaka railway crossing is a little shop called Maki, brimful of goodies, and yes (fanfare of trumpets!) they actually have Marmite! In addition they have a very impressive cereal selection and apparently, the cheapest cheese in Japan.
Open every day but Wednesday 10:00 ~ 22:00
Tel: 075-781-3670

Finally, we come to the queen of all import stores here in Kyoto: Meidi-Ya. This store is centrally located on the north side of Sanjo Dori, between Kawaramachi and the Kamo River. They have pretty much everything you need, including Marmite or even if you are that way inclined it’s far inferior (but cheaper) Australian cousin Vegemite.
Open: 10:00 ~21:00
Tel: 075-221-7661

Related: Online Suppliers.

In Search of… Natural Food

Here is a short list of locations where you can get hold of natural food supplies and other earth friendly products while in Kyoto. It is far from exhaustive I’m sure, so if you know of any other places you think should be up here, write and tell me in the comments box below, or send me a mail at

Donguri is a small shop on Kitaoji that is packed full of goodies. In addition to natural foods and health products they also sell an array of meat substitutes. This “Daizu Marugoto Meat Slice” is made from soyabeans and is a good source of protein for our vegetarian bretheren. Just soak in water before adding it to your meal. You can also buy Tempeh here, a very versatile meat substitute that goes very well with a glass of beer.

To find Donguri go north on Higashioji Dori, turn right onto Kitaoji and it is on your right before you get to the railway tracks. Click here for a map.
Open from 10:00 am – 19:00 pm
Closed on Sundays.
If you go to the web-page and click on the yellow smiley face (about half-way down) you can print out some coupons.

Help is a large supermarket with everything you could want from a normal supermarket, except it’s all natural and they have an excellent recycling system for all their waste. They also stock the “Daizu Marugoto Meat” pictured above. Help is on Higashioji Dori a little to the north of Ichijoji. Here is a map.

Open:10:00 am~19:30 pm
(19:00pm on Sundays)
Closed on Wednesdays.

Natural Station: Wendy Mama sells organic produce, health foods, supplements, and earth friendly cleaning products and toiletries. Natural Station sits on the south side of Shimei Dori between Karasuma and Horikawa. Here is a map.
Open: 10:00 am – 19:00 pm (Closed on Sundays)
Tel: 075-411-4460

There is lots of fresh organic produce and other earth friendly products in the supermarket “Farmers” on Marutamachi. Vegetarians can also get these meat substitutes here; “Soy and Wheat Protein Sticks” and “Vege Protein Blocks”, although these are not suitable for the gluten intolerant.

To find “Farmers”, go north on Kawaramachi and turn right onto Marutamachi and it is on your right just past the Figaro restaurant. Here is a map.
Open 10:00 am ~ 21:00 pm
Tel: 075-212-6340.

Update December 17th 2008: Here’s another one! Organic veggies, health & whole foods and natural cleaning products at 菜花. Click on the link to read more!

For more natural products and organic obento lunch-boxes see also the separate article on Earth Kitchen Company

For more natural and vegetarian products available online see: Online Suppliers