Locals generally eat breakfast at home in Kyoto -town so unless you are staying in a hotel, ryokan or an apartment a sit down breakfast, like you might be used to in your own country, can be difficult to find.
There are a few boulangerie and fast food joints open early and everything from pastries and breads to bacon and eggs to yoghurt and cheese are easily accessible for DIY brekkies – and of course you could try whipping up some miso shiru (soup), grilled rice, fish, natto, pickles and veggies if you are hankering for something more traditional.
Cafe life tends to start a little later in these parts (although that is starting to change very slowly) -so I am on a mission to find alternatives for when I have an early start and also places for a leisurely breakfast/brunch… and share them with you ! (just do check the opening times before you go – some place , although offering breakfast, may not open until after what you might consider standard breakfast times) – oh and by the way – don’t bother asking for the breakfast menu in a casual joint – you are after one of their ‘morning sets’.
We’ll kick off the list with local favourite – the Iyemon Salon.
Although essentially a ‘tea salon’ Iyemon is one of the few places open early (8am!) for brekkie in downtown Kyoto.
Iyemon Salon is quite a large space but is also popular and fills up quickly – however there wont be much of a wait for a table so stick around if you do find it full. It is quite a relaxing spot with lovely garden vistas – so make the most of it and take a book along – it seemed to be the thing to do. And they top up your glass with tea at regular intervals so its a bit of a bargain too!
While they do serve a casual Japanese style breakfast here they also do a mean scrambled egg and pork sandwich – which is quite delish – note the teensy scoop of potato salad and greenery on the side.
I’m a bit addicted to coffee with ice in it in the warmer months but that changes as winter approaches.
If you order Matcha/Maccha (whisked powdered green tea) the staff will prepare it in front of you. Lovely!
Make sure you come back for lunch, cocktails or to use their computer area with internet access. A good place to know in Kyoto town and it makes an excellent meeting point. You can also purchase their own branded tea and there are a few cookbooks and tea related paraphernalia on a table near the entrance – occasionally they have some very cool design goods on sale in the small gallery space up the stairs just to your left as you enter the Iyemon Salon.
You’ll find this top spot on Sanjo dori (street) just west of Karasuma dori (street) on the south side of the road.
If you are taking a morning wander to Arashiyama for sightseeing there is little choice of brekkie offerings except this sweet little place – although I should point out it doesn’t open till 10 am!. While these pics are from the Arashiyama branch, Yojiya has several stores around Kyoto and a couple in Tokyo.
Yojiya cafes are an extension of the Yojiya cosmetics company founded in Kyoto in 1904 and are most famous for their aburatorigami – velvety paper oil-blotters for your face. Japanese women only ever seem to ‘glow’ … they don’t sweat – so these papers are perfect for tidying up their make up ( I’d need a packet of these handy wipes every half hour or in a Kyoto summer if I was even to attempt to retain any semblance of ‘neatly made up’ ) – I’ve digressed slightly but there is a point as generally you’ll find these cafes adjacent to the shops – full of lovely aromatic gift ideas for home… You will recognise the stores by this motif above- a ladies face in the top of a coffee cup – the same lady who appears on the store signs and products for the cosmetics store – only she looks a little less traditional in the cafe’s.
The cafe’s are a little rehearsed in regards to the menu offerings or consistency across the board but for about $10 you can buy a decent ‘western style’ breakfast like this – including coffee and a little dish of yoghurt with fruit (aka morning set). Yes, it is common to find salad with your breakfast offerings in Japan. I actually think it works really well to lighten the heavier bacon and eggs… .(although no real risk of over-indulging with one egg and half a rasher of bacon as per above!).
If you want fancy coffee with your brekkie there is a small additional cost. And if you see the coffee, matcha and white chocolate drink on the menu – get it – it is surprisingly good! And you may just find that lovely lady’s face on top of your latte! Coffee art has really taken off in Japan.
If you are down at Kyoto station for a morning train – the Lipton Teahouse cafe does a half decent western style breakfast for those craving bacon and eggs, toast and the like – head down into the Porta arcade just in front of the main gates on Shiokoji street – on the (north) side of the station and look for the signboards with all the eateries. There’s also a starbucks down there too. They both open earlier than most other joints down there. Open from 8am.
Open since 1948 – Kyoto Bakery Sizuya has branches all over town – a range of cheap n cheerful breakfast sets available- plus there’s a whole lot of takeaway ‘pan’ for snacking on by the river in warmer weather if you prefer!
Eggs and Things opened a couple of years ago and while it isn’t really my cuppa tea people seem to be going a bit crazy for it (probably because there is little to no competition) – pancakes piled high with whipped cream and a dozen syrups to choose from, oversized portions of western brekkies including Eggs Benedict etc (although I must admit I do love a good eggs Benny…) – opens 9am for an ALL DAY BREAKFAST!
SHINSHINDO also does a few westernised brekkie offerings to go with their baked goods – (including soup breakfast or chowder breakfast !?) – eggs, bacon, bagels and cream cheese etc… or you can take out the pastries and buns and sit in the park with one of their take away coffees from the refrigerated section! They have a few outlets so check the website for details. Open from 8am.
French Patisserie chain PAUL is open from 8 if you feel like a coffee and pastry
By the way the Kyoto Hyatt Regency Hotel do a great breakfast from 6:30 am! wheeeee! (my travel groups can all testify to the deliciousness here!) and wonderful weekend brunch!
Stay tuned…. more breakfast offerings coming soon!
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