Summer in Kyoto: Kibune Shrine and Kawadoko Cuisine Guide

KyotoAttractionsKibune Shrine

On this trip to Kyoto, I decided to skip the classic tourist spots and instead headed to Kifune. It was an excellent choice – fewer people, stunning scenery, and an unforgettable culinary experience with kawadoko cuisine, which involves dining on platforms set over a cool, flowing stream.

Kifune Shrine (貴船神社)

Kifune Shrine, with its 1600-year history, is often touted as one of Japan's most beautiful shrines. It's especially famous for its mountain path lined with red wooden lanterns. In summer, the surrounding forest makes the area particularly cool and refreshing.

📍 180 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1112, Japan

Kifune Shrine, mountain path lined with red wooden lanterns

The shrine is dedicated to the God of Water, the source of all life and offers a unique water fortune-telling experience. For 200 yen, you can purchase a blank fortune slip. Place it in the shrine's sacred water, and the fortune will slowly reveal itself – quite fascinating!

Kifune Shrine enshrines the God of Water, the source of all life

Kifune is a bit off the beaten path from central Kyoto, making the journey a bit time-consuming. It takes about an hour and a half from Osaka's Namba. I left at 10 AM and arrived just in time for lunch. If you plan to try the popular nagashi somen (flowing noodles), it's best to arrive a couple of hours earlier to avoid the long lines.

How to Get There ?

To get there, take the Keihan Electric Railway to Demachiyanagi Station, then transfer to the Eizan Main Line to Kibuneguchi Station. From there, cross the street to catch Kyoto Bus No. 33, which will take you directly to the shrine's parking lot. Alternatively, you can walk the 2 kilometers from Kibuneguchi to the shrine. Though the route may seem complicated, it's quite manageable, and the scenic train ride to Kibuneguchi is delightful.

Route to Kifune Shrine

Another Must-Try: Kawadoko Cuisine

The long journey to Kifune Shrine is well worth it, not just for the shrine itself but for the picturesque setting along a small stream, which is the source of the Kamo River. The lush greenery in summer and vibrant foliage in autumn make it an ideal spot for a relaxing getaway.

Kawadoko, available from May to September, is a cooling summer dining experience where platforms are built over the stream. Unlike the Noryo-Yuka by the Kamo River, kawadoko is set directly above the water, with tents and lanterns overhead and the stream flowing beneath. Sitting on a cool mat, enjoying delicious cuisine and sake, is an experience like no other.

Kifune Shrine, Kawadoko Cuisine

Nagashi Somen (Flowing Noodles)

A must-try is the famous nagashi somen at Hirobun. A short walk upstream from Kifune Shrine, it costs 1700 yen per person – affordable and fun. However, it gets crowded around lunchtime, so to avoid long waits, consider having a kawadoko set meal at one of the many restaurants along the road. Note that most of these eateries are cash-only, so be sure to bring enough cash.

When choosing a restaurant, the dining environment is crucial. While some places offer meals for as low as 3000 yen, the ambiance may be lacking. It's worth spending a bit more for a better experience.

Kifune Shrine, Kawadoko Cuisine

Kifune Shrine, Kawadoko Cuisine

Suggested Itinerary:

  1. Arrive in Kifune
  2. Get a number/booking for nagashi somen or a kawadoko meal
  3. Explore Kifune Shrine
  4. Enjoy some time by the stream or visit another kawadoko spot based on your booking time
  5. Experience nagashi somen or a kawadoko meal
  6. Continue exploring on foot or head back to Kyoto