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Shoraian: Scenic Restaurant In Arashiyama Where A Master Calligrapher Serves Seasonal Tofu Kaiseki

Tofu kaiseki at Shoraian

Run by a renowned master calligrapher who connects people heart-to-heart through food and art, Shoraian presents a feast for the senses. Your next Kyoto getaway pairs Arashiyama’s breathtaking scenery with artfully curated food inspired by nature.

Experience kaiseki with speciality tofu dishes at a comfy price

Shoraian - tofu kaiseki 1
Image credit: Hello Momo

A traditional multi-course meal prepared with intricate detail, kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is Japan’s haute cuisine. Shoraian’s version of kaiseki is served with wa no kokoro” (和の心), which roughly translates to spirits of harmony that bring the heart, spirit and mind together. 

Shoraian - tofu kaiseki 2
Image credit: Shiro Ang

Despite the elevated gourmet and premium hospitality, Shoraian keeps their prices affordable, as it is their aim to bond people across different cultures through food. 

Shoraian - tofu kaiseki 3
Image credit: Shiro Ang

The restaurant offers three kaiseki sets: 7-course Shoyo (¥3,800, ~USD26.53), 9-course Shorai (¥4,600, ~USD32.11) that’s served with seasonal items and chef’s creation, and the luxurious 12-course Shofu (¥5,800, ~USD40.49) which includes wagyu beef. 

Shoraian - agedashi tofu
Image credit: Shiro Ang

In Kyoto, tofu is a renowned speciality. It’s no surprise that most of the staple signature dishes at Shoraian, which are available in all the kaiseki sets, are tofu-themed. 

Shoraian - yudofu
Image adapted from: Yummy Delight and Yummy Delight

The signature yudofu (湯豆腐; soup with tofu) is simple goodness that melts in your mouth. Fresh handmade tofu is cooked in spring water, then seasoned lightly with soya sauce, spring onions and shichimi (七味;  seven-spices powder). Free refills of the entire bubbling hotpot are available upon request. 

Shoraian - tofu ice-cream
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To round off your meal, the dessert served at the end even contains the creamy bean curd product. The tofu ice cream is topped with black sugar syrup and yatsuhashi (八ツ橋; cinnamon-flavoured mochi sheets), delivering a delightful natural sweetness to your palate.

Seasonal art & cuisine designed by master calligrapher 

Shoraian - Fuyoh Kobayashi
Image adapted from: Fuyoh Kobayashi and Shiro Ang

Not many restaurants serve food with handmade paintings, and even fewer are run by the artist themselves. Shoraian’s okami (女将; proprietress), Fuyoh Kobayashi, is a master calligrapher who specialises in the “calligraphy of healing”.

Shoraian - calligraphy of restaurant's name
Image credit: Shiro Ang

Kobayashi’s elegant paintings and calligraphy adorn the walls of Shoraian, including the prominent plaque that welcomes you with the restaurant’s name.

Shoraian - calligraphy art
Image credit: Shiro Ang

If you order the Shorai or Shofu kaiseki sets, the additional seasonal menu items are served alongside postcards handmade by the okami herself. 

These designs combine calligraphy with paintings to capture the pictographic nature of kanji, and are presented as mementos to guests.

Shoraian - calligraphy of ame
Image credit: Hello Momo

The Kyo-ryori seasonal selection is also decorated by creative plating. Guests visiting in the tsuyu (梅雨; warm rainy summer) period will be presented with a frog made from an edamame floating beside an umbrella-shaped ame (雨; rain). 

Shoraian - calligraphy of momiji
Image adapted from: Yummy Delight and Yummy Delight

In fall, vibrantly coloured gourds come with paper imprinted with momiji (紅葉; red autumn leaves). The fresh seasonal cuisine matches the changing red and amber foliage. 

Panoramic views of Arashiyama and Katsuragawa River

Shoraian - window seats
Image credit: Shiro Ang

Complementing the seasonal menu and art pieces at Shoraian is the spectacular nature outside. The surrounding lush greenery changes colours as seasons pass. 

Shoraian - windows all-round
Image credit: Shiro Ang

We definitely recommend a window seat, but the restaurant has windows all-round for amazing views wherever you’re seated. Enjoy the expansive serenity with your meal while seated on tatami mats. 

Shoraian - Katsuragawa
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A balcony extends off the hillside over the emerald waters of the Katsura River, so you can take in the picturesque scenery with all your senses in the semi-outdoors. 

Shoraian - path down to abode
Image credit: Shiro Ang

Shoraian is located in the former holiday villa of Prince Fumimaro Konoe, Japan’s former three-time Prime Minister who frequently visited the abode. It was refurbished and reopened as under the restaurant’s current name in 2005.

Shoraian - windowed panorama
Image credit: Shiro Ang

Almost a century later since Fumimaro Konoe’s last stay here, the panoramic views here still offer a beautiful backdrop to patrons taking a respite from busy life.

Getting to Shoraian

Shoraian - entrance
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With exquisite food, warm hospitality and charming views, it’s no wonder that Shoraian is one of Kyoto’s most highly rated tofu kaiseki restaurants. To ensure that you get a spot to experience this restaurant’s views and foods, place your reservations by 5pm on the day before your visit.

Shoraian - path with signboard
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There are 2 routes to Shoraian, and both are as scenic as the view there. These 2 walking routes will bring you past the Katsura River. There are signboards all the way to the restaurant so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the mountains. 

Getting there:

  • Via Hankyū Railway: alight at Arashiyama Station (Hankyū), then head towards the Togetsukyō Bridge and keep walking upstream along the river for 20 minutes. 
  • Via Randen Railway: alight at Arashiyama Station (Randen), then take a 15-minute walk through the mountain path. 

Address: Inside of government land, Sagakamenocho, Ukyo Ward, 616-8386, Kyoto
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11am-5pm| Fri-Sun & national holidays 11am-8pm | closed on New Years holidays
Contact: 0758-61-0123 | Shoraian website

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Cover image adapted from: Hello Momo, Hello Momo, Shiro Ang