Simon and Martina Visit Kyoto Kitcho Restaurant and Introduce Traditional Japanese Culture!
Welcome back to Goin’ Japanesque!, and this is our third installation of the Simon and Martina series. Last week Martina surprised us with her cooking skills but this week, we got a bigger surprise. Totally different from the last two episodes, they deliver a report from a most authentic Japanese restaurant in Kyoto. Just about any Japanese person knows this restaurant’s name, and it is not just about food. It’s a great introduction of traditional Japanese culture in bygone days.
Simon and Martina visit one of the most beautiful restaurants in Japan, Kyoto Kitcho, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant located in Arashiyama. There are many elements to the restaurant that make Kyoto Kitcho a well-respected and cherished place beyond the food and the service.
The most beautiful restaurant in Japan
As chef Kunio Tokuoka explains throughout the interview in this video, the restaurant has a rich history. The restaurant opened shortly after the second World War in 1948, and many aspects of the design and architecture respect and pay tribute to Japanese history. For example, the entrance to the tea room has a special place that would be used for samurai to place their swords before entering the building.
The doorways and entrances to the rooms are low, so that guests must bow their heads to enter. This is all deeply connected to many aspects of Japanese culture, a feeling of respect and graciousness that is very much a part of the manners and way of thinking that is associated with Japanese history.
The nature and landscapes that surround the restaurant are also very much a part of the ambiance that makes Kyoto Kitcho special. It’s an atmosphere and view that can only be seen at this particular spot. Chef Tokuoka says this scenery makes us feel the importance of living as a human being and remaining connected to nature.
Also a part of this experience is dining in a washitsu (和室) or tatami room. The atmosphere of the room is meant to be interactive and intimate, promoting the sharing feelings and engaging in conversation. There are many traditional Japanese philosophies that are involved in this kind of dining experience.
The balance of ingredients and preparation
Of course, this is a restaurant, so talking about the food is a must. Chef Tokuoka relates the importance of preparing the dishes. He says that finding different ways to prepare foods is important, because it creates different ways for people to feel happy.
There are many traditional foods that are served at Kyoto Kitcho, some of the ones featured in the video are kamameshi (kettle-cooked rice), nimonowan (soup), yakimono (flame-grilled food), and konomono (seasonal pickled vegetables), as well as deserts like kashi (Japanese confection), and kudamono (seasonal fruit dessert).
The presentation of the food is also an important part of the experience. Many foods are served alongside natural plants and are arranged in specific ways to appeal to the eye as well as the stomach. This is an important aspect of traditional Japanese dining.
Traditional Japanese waitresses and service
Service is also a key to the success of Kyoto Kitcho. As Simon explains, there are certain gestures and ways of serving that are purposeful and traditional. “There is an attention to detail and focus that is very inspiring and graceful.”
This is because of the careful observations of the okami (女将), the madam or manager of the restaurant. She takes special care to watch the customers and make sure they have everything they need to enjoy their meal and be comfortable during their time at the restaurant.
Dining in a traditional Japanese restaurant is truly something that you must experience when you travel to Japan. Kyoto Kitcho is just one of many of traditional restaurants that exist in Japan. Be sure to seek one out during your travels and savor the experience of Japanese dining.