Local gourmet spots near JR stations between Kyoto, Nara and Iga


Kyoto Tea Country

Some of the most popular day trips from Kyoto are to the nearby ancient city of Nara and to the birthplace of one of the leading schools of ninja, Iga in Mie Prefecture. All three cities are connected by JR rail lines that run through local regions that are rich in history and nature. Local pride in local produce, and creative ways to make the most of it, have given birth to some tasty and interesting places to eat and drink that bring you into the community and off the pages of the guidebook. What’s more, the ones we introduce here are all within a 15-minute walk of a JR station.

The five train stations visited here are all on either the JR Nara Line or JR Kansai Main Line, which connect. Whether you are going to Kyoto or from it, drop in to one of these spots to get a taste of what local people and their environments have to offer.

Joyo Shuzo Sake Brewery – 3-minute walk from Yamashiro-Aodani Station

Using very soft ground water from 100 meters below the brewery, Joyo Shuzo makes sake and liqueur of the highest quality. It goes beyond fine ingredients and 100-year-old technique to apply playfulness and creativity to make delicious beverages that appeal to the senses.

Most of the 14 varieties of sake that Joyo Shuzo makes can be tasted and purchased at the cellar door. They include some brewed from the foremost sake rice, Yamada-nishiki, which produces a clear, straight-forward flavor, and some made from Kyoto-grown varieties of sake rice that impart a broader, softer flavor that is more indicative of rice. President Toshihiro Shimamoto’s personal pick is the flavorful “Iwai” variety of rice that is unique to Kyoto.

Since 1991, the brewery has used locally grown plums to make liqueur. The nearby Aodani Plum Grove is the largest in Kyoto Prefecture and known for producing large fruit with a rich, peach-like fragrance. Joyo Shuzo uses this variety—and no additives—to create a refined sweetness and mellowness in a liqueur that is aged for at least three years. In a further playful creation that Shimamoto describes as “something only we can do,” matcha-grade tea is added to the liqueur to create a uniquely Kyoto experience that balances sweetness with the bitterness of green tea, both in flavor and aroma.

If you are in Kyoto around the start of March when the plum blossoms bloom, consider combining a trip to Joyo Shuzo brewery with one to the historic Aodani Plum Grove to enjoy the flowers’ beauty and fragrance, in a practice that predates the viewing of cherry blossoms.

Open: 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. weekdays & 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturdays
Closed: Sundays & public holidays
Address: 34-1 Nashima Kubono, Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture 610-0116

Joyo Shuzo

Founded in 1895, Joyo Shuzo produces sake and plum wine.
The brewery’s representative brand is its Junmai Daiginjo Joyo sake, and plum wine. Its representative plum wines, “Hanakoeda” and “Umekoeda,” use only local aodani plums, and are aged for over three years and prepared without added coloring or flavoring.

Kotokoto Beer – 2-minute walk from Tanakura Station

Kotokoto Beer is new to the brewery scene and fast fulfilling its goal of fostering smiles and community. From 11:51 a.m. the brewery is open for direct sales, and on weekends its pub is open to drinkers. The time is a play on words and a welcome to the whimsical world of Kotokoto’s creator, Tomoya Bandoh.

Bandoh founded the microbrewery in May 2022 after working in the sake industry. He saw craft beer as a fun way to bring people together, to boost the region and to share its natural and agricultural riches with the wider nation. Along with a standard lineup of varieties that includes a wheaty weizen, a stout, a pilsner and a pale ale, Kotokoto has also collaborated with local stores and farmers to produce amusements such as a tomato pilsner, a grape pale ale, a coffee beer and one that put to good use strawberries that nearby farmers were having trouble selling.

The weekend pub is mostly frequented by locals, including many families with children in tow. The venue, right alongside the little brewery and just across from the train tracks, is another stroke of the whimsy of Bandoh. It is an old-fashioned karaoke pub complete with red velour upholstery, dim lighting and a backlit stage. It is the perfect place to drink a strawberry beer.

Open for direct sales 11:51 a.m.– 5:10 p.m. Friday to Tuesday. Pub also open Saturday & Sunday.

Address: 58 Hirao Sanshozuka, Yamashiro-cho, Kizugawa City, Kyoto 619-0202

Kotokoto Beer

Kotokoto Beer

Our founder Mr. Bando founded the microbrewery in May 2022 after working in the sake industry. He views craft beer as a fun way to bring people together, revitalize the community, and share its natura …

Kamuin Cafe – 15-minute walk from Tanakura Station

In an old Japanese-style house on an ancient travel route, Kamuin cafe serves traditional sweets to weekend travelers. It’s a great place to relax, recoup and experience firsthand some of Japan’s lesser-known sweet treats.

One of the cafe’s most popular items is “o-hagi.” These are balls of sticky rice covered in sweetened bean paste, sesame seeds or “kinako” soybean flour. They are usually palm-sized, but Kamuin has also created a set of mini o-hagi that are not only cute and colorful, but also let us try five different toppings in one dish. Green bean paste is matcha flavored and the smoothness and sweetness of it contrast pleasantly with the light saltiness and bumpiness of the rice. The white o-hagi is topped with a pickled cherry blossom that adds an extra dash of salt and an extra texture to savor.

The crab motif is taken from the nearby Kaniman-ji Temple. It is part of the old Yamashiro Road, which is a gentle hiking route that runs parallel with the JR Nara and Kansai Main Lines for 25 kilometers from JR Joyo Station to just past Kizu Station.

As well as homemade, formal “wagashi” sweets, Kamuin serves various seasonal treats, including shaved ice in summer, a warm bean-paste soup with toasted rice cake in winter and in spring a burger made with the region’s specialty, bamboo shoots.

As well as homemade, formal “wagashi” sweets, Kamuin serves various seasonal treats, including shaved ice in summer, a warm bean-paste soup with toasted rice cake in winter and in spring a burger made with the region’s specialty, bamboo shoots.

Open: Weekends, 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Address: 38-1 Kabata Yamaguchi, Yamashiro-cho, Kizugawa City, Kyoto 619-0201

Kamuin Cafe

Kamuin Cafe

Our cafe is in an old Japanese-style house on an ancient travel route and we serve Japanese sweets to our visitors. One of the most popular Japanese sweets at our cafe is “”Ohagi,”” made with glutino …

Yoichi Restaurant and Bed & Breakfast – 10-minute walk from Kasagi Station

Among the mountains of southern Kyoto Prefecture, not far from the Kizugawa River, Kazuki Morimoto serves his customers the bounties that he discovers around him—and here, there are many. Deer, wild boar, duck and pheasant are among the game meats he serves mainly in Japanese-style dishes, but his repertoire includes soft-shelled turtle, eel, carp and sweetfish. This last one he has been catching himself at the river he can see from the doorway.

Morimoto opened this restaurant over a year ago, to create a place where people can relax and come together. The traditional-style building is 70 years old but fresh and comfortable inside due to renovations, with sliding doors, wood furnishings, tatami mats and floor and chair seating.

The second floor is used for bed and breakfast accommodation. For breakfast, too, Morimoto offers locally sourced produce; honey to put on toast or eggs to eat raw on fresh rice.

Returning here to his hometown after working in Osaka, Morimoto is conscious of how the locals pull together and he utilizes these connections to enrich his menu.

The rich natural surroundings of Kasagi make it a popular destination during the cherry blossom season in spring and during the fall colors, as well as for viewing a sea of clouds among the mountains at dawn.

Open: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. for lunch & 5 p.m.–9:30 p.m. for dinner
Address: 67-1 Kasagi Nishidori, Kasagi-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto Prefecture 619-1303

Yoichi, a stay over small plate restaurant

Yoichi, a stay over small plate restaurant

After working in Osaka, Mr. Morimoto returned to his hometown and opened Yoichi with the desire to create a place where people could gather and relax. The building we are in is about 70 years old and …

TEOTERASU IDE Community Space – 12-minute walk from Tamamizu Station

TEOTERASU IDE is a community space that opened in 2023 to give locals in the town of Ide a place to gather, and also to celebrate and sell local produce and crafts. The central feature is a bright, spacious cafe with tables made of Ide cypress that is part of the Ide Town Office complex that opened a few months earlier. As the name suggests, the space includes a terrace (“terasu”) that looks out onto the nearby hills.

Tasty attractions here include the specially developed Ide Jyanmen ramen, which has a miso soup and the local specialty of bamboo shoots as a topping. Also specially created for the cafe is the Ide Golden Pudding. This is a rich, creamy custard pudding with a unique texture that draws on local legend that centuries ago a golden hen was buried somewhere in Ide and is yet to be found.

Locally grown fruit and vegetables are on sale, as well as delicatessen items, local specialty products and craft items. Various events and a regular flea market are also held.
In spring, the cherry blossoms along the Tamagawa River near the train station draw crowds. Uphill from TEOTERASU IDE, the ancient Tamatsuoka Shrine includes a line of red shrine gates and views down over the town.

Open: Tuesday–Sunday and public holidays, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. for sales & 9 a.m.–5 p.m. for the cafe
Closed: around New Year and on a Tuesday after a Monday public holiday
Address: 8 Oaza ide-koaza Higashitakatsuki, Ide-cho, Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto Prefecture 610-0302



TEOTERASU IDE opened in September, 2023 in Ide Town. You can savor the local noodles, “Ide Janmen,” and purchase fresh vegetables, and souvenirs. You can also enjoy matcha soft-serve ice cream while t …

Michi no Eki, Ocha no Kyoto Minamiyamashiro Village – 10-minute walk from Tsukigaseguchi Station

This roadside rest stop in the heart of tea country brings together the quintessence of Kyoto’s only village, Minamiyamashiro. The food and goods available here present the best of a region blessed with rich natural features and the wisdom of a self-reliant community.

The lunch menu at the Murafudo Cafeteria Tsuchinoubu includes buckwheat “soba” noodles that contain quality green tea. Breakfast options include a congee cooked in “hoji-cha” roasted green tea. Fill your eyes with tea too, as the cafeteria looks out over tea fields.

“Mura Chaya,” or the Village Tea Shop, offers takeout drinks and sweets, including Michi no Eki’s No.1 product, green tea-flavored soft-serve ice cream. Rich and slightly bitter, it’s topped with a dark green tea sauce. The lineup here varies with the seasons, giving you shaved ice in the summer and a sweet, warm “zenzai” bean-paste soup in winter.

Nomon Market’s central ingredient is green tea from Minamiyamashiro village. As well as tea in various forms, it has also been incorporated into a range of original products especially developed for the Michi no Eki, such as pound cake, a creamy pudding and “dorayaki” pancake sandwiches. You can also buy fresh vegetables delivered direct from the farm and the village specialties of “shiitake” mushrooms, blueberries and rice.

Open:”Michi-no-Eki” Rest Stop & Nomon Market: 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

Village Tea Shop: 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Murafudo Cafeteria Tsuchinoubu: weekday mornings 8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m., weekend & public holiday mornings 7:30 a.m.–9:30 a.m., lunch 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Closed: third Wednesday in June, second Wednesday in December
Address: 102 Tonda Kitaokawara, Minamiyamashiro-mura, Soraku-gun, Kyoto Prefecture 619-1411

Michi no Eki Ocha no Kyoto Minamiyamashiro Village

At this “michi-no-eki” rest stop, you’ll find a compendium of the everyday in Minamiyamashiro Village. Visitors can experience the local lifestyle and wisdom of everyday life in the village with all five senses.
At its centerpiece, the Nomon Market, you can find local specialties, including tea and fresh vegetables for sale. There are plenty of food, sweets, and boxed lunches available for you to fully enjoy with Japanese tea.
The rich flavor of the green tea soft-serve ice cream here is made using only first-grade tea, yet it has a surprisingly fresh aftertaste! This quality soft-serve is just what you might expect from a tea shop, full of rich tea flavor, and topped with matcha syrup. 370 yen (tax excluded).