Shojin Ryori and Tofu 0

Whether you’re riding the Kyo-Train to Kyoto, exploring the bamboo forests of Arashiyama, or walking through the temples of this once ancient capital of Japan, there is a lot to do and experience. But if you’re looking for a place to get a “taste of Kyoto,” Chikusen is the place to be.

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Seiryo-ji Temple

Inside the Seiryo-ji Temple complex in the Sagano area of Kyoto, a visit to this famous restaurant is an opportunity to relax and enjoy a Kyoto-esque atmosphere while eating the delicious, healthy and organic local vegetarian dishes called Yudofu.

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Yudofu

Yudofu, or hot pot tofu, is a dish which originates from shojin ryori, a traditional cuisine prepared for Buddhist monks. Throughout time, this kind of cuisine has evolved from simple origins to elaborate in both appearance and taste. 

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Shojin Ryori

Shojin ryori prohibits the use of animal products, but there are a few other rules which must be followed. The rules are organized around the number five. At Chikusen, the yudofu okimari set combines five different flavors: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami (the rich taste of glutamates). There are five different colors: black, red, green, yellow and white. 

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There are also five different types of preparation: fried, boiled, grilled, steamed assortments of vegetables and fruit. Everything about shojin ryori is about balance; from visuals to taste this balance in the food is said to bring health and balance to your life as well. The Yudofu Okimari set costs about 4,320 yen per person and includes tea and dessert. 

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While beautiful to look at, the set is difficult to eat because each small dish is brought together to create a piece of art. When eating the food, each flavor can be tasted as a separate and distinct part. However, they come together harmoniously. Common items include rice, vegetable tempura, cold tofu and, of course, a personal hot pot of tofu with vegetables and a few things that may be new to you, such as yuba sashimi (the skin of tofu ), which has an interesting texture.

In addition to great service, Chikusen has a beautiful Japanese and Zen atmosphere which allows one to relax on tatami floors. To enhance the overall dining experience, the rooms are lit up by the dim glow of lanterns. Visitors can choose to sit either on the floor at low tables or on wooden chairs at waist level tables. 

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Eating yudofu will rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. While the dish’s flavors are not overbearing, they are not too light either. Vegetarian or not, you can enjoy a variety of tastes while eating yudofu. The meal will leave you satisfied and coming back to Chikusen for more. 

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Access

Take the Kyo-Train to Arashiyama!

From Umeda Station, take the Hankyu-Kyoto Line toward Kawaramachi. The Kyo-Train is a special service which runs on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Each car is beautifully designed and inspires different atmospheres of Kyoto. Once you’ve reach Karatsu Station, transfer to the Hankyu-Arashiyama Line. The walk from Arashiyama Station to Chikusen is1.8 km (1.1 mile) walk. 

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CHRISTIAN BATOON

From a small city of Hawaii now living in my favorite city Osaka for 3 years, Chris is now touring Japan and seeking for life's answers through his travels. Come follow him on his adventures!