Kyoto’s tea ceremonies are truly a must-try and one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in your lifetime. After all, Kyoto is Japan’s cultural capital and home to a trio of primary tea ceremony schools. Whether you’re admiring the autumn foliage or the cherry blooms, the tea-drinking ritual in Japan’s ancient capital is a memorable and fascinating experience.
One of the most popular experiences to try in Kyoto is a tea ceremony experience. A rich blend of spirituality with culinary artistry it’s meditative, focused, and a centerpiece of the city’s culture. If you are in Kyoto, you can’t miss the opportunity to experience a tea ceremony. Here’s a guide to some highlights and an overview of what you need to know about Kyoto’s tea ceremony culture.
Want to experience this wondrous Japanese tradition in English? Then, check out these amazing locations for tea ceremonies in Kyoto, Japan.
There’s absolutely no better place to experience an English tea ceremony in Kyoto than Maikoya. Rated as the top tea ceremony in Kyoto, guests of Maikoya will get to learn the ritual’s history and culture while wearing an authentic kimono. As their hosts, not only are they extremely friendly, but they speak fluent English a well.
To top it all off, they offer an array of cultural activities that can be paired with your Kyoto tea ceremony, such as, calligraphy and origami lessons, and even Gion walking tours. You can even have a tea ceremony with a real-life maiko (geisha apprentice) here.
Maikoya Kyoto Kimono Tea ceremony
Address: 565-4 Nakanocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8042, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–7PM
You’ll get to savor green tea leaves in Japan served with sweet wagashi at this Kyoto store. They follow the Urasenke style, which changes the future and based on the country’s season. Additionally, the owner speaks English fairly well and will make you feel at home. But, compared to other spots for Kyoto tea ceremonies, it’s a little pricey.
Tea ceremony Koto
Address: Japan, 〒603-8377 Kyoto, Kita Ward, Kinugasanishi Goshonouchicho, 37 (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–5:30PM
Camellia is located perfectly near Ninenzaka, which is a renowned district for most visitors of the Kiyomizudera Temple. The area’s traditional streets exude an old Japanese feel, but it may be a little difficult to spot the place because it’s located on the street’s dead end. As their guest, they will let you create your own tea. Camellia also offers the option to join the Kyoto tea ceremonies while wearing a kimono at a different location.
Address: 349-12 Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0826, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–6PM
The lead host, Masumi-san, has been, for over 3 years, conducting Kyoto tea ceremonies. The Tea ceremony explanations have been done properly oftentimes by just the host or sometimes with a translator. Booking a Tea ceremony here is somewhat difficult since you need to use a Paypal account or reach out to them via phone. There are discounts for those traveling in Kyoto with kids.
Tea ceremony Juan
Address: 556, Gojo-sagaru, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8119, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Friday 11AM–6PM; Saturday – Sunday closed
Located less than 10 minutes from the Yasaka Shrine, this brown house offers Kyoto tea ceremonies every day. En Tea Ceremony has a pretty convenient location and their pricing is reasonable and okay. On the low side, it doesn’t provide a ton of explanations of the traditions of the Kyoto tea ceremonies.
En Tea Ceremony
Address: 272 Matsubaracho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0063, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–7PM
6. Ran Hotei
Ran Hotei is a decent tea ceremony spot that practices the more laid-back ryurei style, which uses chairs and tables instead of sitting on the floor. In addition, it has a full-on café with bagels, homemade curry, coffee and teas. It’s not a bag place, especially if you’re looking for something a little more than a wagashi sweet and a cup of matcha.
Address: 64 Kamikawaracho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8374, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 11:30AM–8PM; Thursday closed; Friday 11:30AM–11PM; Saturday – Sunday 11AM–8PM
Conveniently located across Byodoi-in temple, Taihon-an is a decent little teahouse managed by the Uji City Government. It offers a match as well as other traditional Japanese sweets. You may experience their tea ceremony, but you’ll have to book at least 3 days in advance.
Address: Togawa-2 Uji, Kyoto 611-0021, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–4PM
The teahouse was established over three centuries ago, and is most famous because the leader of the 47 Ronin (Japan’s most famous samurai tale), Oishi Kuranosuke, spent several nights here. It was also featured in Arthur Golden’s book Memoirs of a Geisha. Do be aware though this is an exclusive and high-end establishment that is invitation only.
Address: 4 Chome-42-14 Senzoku, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0031, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–12AM
Tea Ceremony at Temples
Did you know that in addition to proper formal tea ceremonies, many temples offer simple, stripped-down tea ceremonies in which they will serve you a Japanese-style sweet with a bowl of matcha?
These temple ceremonies will usually be served looking over a picturesque garden, and the typical price for such an experience is a bargain 500 yen. Two highlight destinations in Kyoto include Nanzen-ji Temple and Shoren-in Temple.
Where to buy tea in Kyoto
If you have the craving to take what you learned during your tea ceremony experience back home then here are some places to pick up all the tools and matcha you need to become a tea ceremony master.
This is a store that has been in the business since the year 1717 and is much loved throughout Japan. It has a connection to a huge variety and supply of tea leaves. Guests are welcome to taste the different teas to pick out which one they want to take home.
Ippodo Tea Kyoto
Address: ５２番地 Tokiwagicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-0915, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–5PM
Located at the lively Nishiki Food Market, which is known as the Kitchen of Kyoto, this a Japanese tea specialty store that sells fresh, fragrant tea leaves by the gram.
Their most popular-selling product would include the freshly roasted bancha (green tea put over a strong fire), which attracts customers thanks to its delicious aroma. Be sure to spend a little time exploring the offerings as the variety they have here (and its quality) is sublime.
Address: Japan, 〒604-8057 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 錦小路上る梅屋町501 (map)
Hours: Monday – Tuesday 10AM–6PM; Wednesday – Thursday closed; Friday – Sunday 10AM–6PM
In business since 1790, Fukujuen is a popular store with a lot to offer. As well as an excellent tea to purchase, here they also launched an event where you may experience how to brew delicious matcha under the supervision of an instructor. Also, if you reserve ahead of time, you may be able to secure an English speaking instructor.
This store offers original matcha green tea that you may find only here, which if you show your passport, you may purchase tax-free.
Fukujuen Kyoto Main Branch
Address: Japan, 〒600-8005 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 富小路角 (map)
Hours: Monday – Tuesday 11AM–6PM; Wednesday closed; Thursday – Sunday 11AM–6PM
Kanbayashi Shunsho Main Store is a branch with a history of 450 years! It handles and sells blends of specially-selected tea leaves from all over the country, with Kyoto-made ones as the focus. It’s traditional Kyoto tea culture at its finest.
Kanbayashi Shunsho Main Store
Address: Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8555, Japan (map)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–8PM
5. Nakamura Tokichi Uji Main Store
The first owner of Nakamurafujiyoshi’s father, Rokubei was born as a son of a sheet and metal maker. However, he was adopted and became a thatcher. After he moved to Uji, he met a famous tea master, Hoshino Shouji. After Hoshino died, Rokubei took over his position. Finally, the second son of Rokubei became a tea manufacturer and started his own business as Nakamura Fujiyoshi. Located near Uji station, they renovated a factory and created a cafe where people can enjoy their original sweets.
Nakamura Tokichi Uji Main Store
Address: Japan, 〒611-0021 Kyoto, Uji, Ichiban−１０ (map)
Hours: Monday – Friday 10AM–5:30PM; Saturday, Sunday 10AM–6:00PM
I recommend Kimono Tea Ceremony MAIKOYA. It is the best tea ceremony according to Tripadvisor and Google reviews.
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