Kaiseki is one of a few traditional styles of Japanese ryori (cuisine). Although referred to as a traditional style of Japanese ryori, kaiseki is quite modern compared to its predecessors Honzen and Chakaiseki ryori. Honzen ryori was a cuisine originally reserved for the Imperial court and upper echelons of Samurai society dating back to the Heian Period (794-1185). Honzen ryori appears to have been eaten on formal occasions with adherence to strict rules of etiquette. Currently, it is usually only eaten on formal occasions such as weddings and funerals.
Chakaiseki ryori was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and tea practice. Chado (the way of tea) gradually developed as the spiritual elements of Zen Buddhism and tea practice were blended. During a chajikai (event involving light meal, matcha and sweet) which typically lasts around four hours, a light meal was served. The meal, similar to the tea practice, also encompassed some of the principles of tea practice. These principles stem from Sen-no-ri-kyu, chado’s most prominent figure. They are harmony 和, respect 敬, purity 清 and tranquility 寂. With a devotion to these principles involved in chado, a certain sensitivity to and understanding of a simple and sober refinement of beauty became distinguishable.
This sensitivity is sometimes referred to as wabi sabi. A person who possessed this wabi sabi became more sensitive to their environment and more specifically, the four seasons. With this heightened sensitivity to the seasons, one now recognized the potential to incorporate ingredients such as vegetables for food and other season specific elements to use for a ceremony. Preparation and presentation of both the meal and tea became closely linked to the season and specific time of year. Chakaiseki ryori was very simple and prepared in accordance with the principles of chado and heightened sensitivity to the seasons. On the other hand, kaiseki is the most modern Japanese cuisine.
In the early 19th century, restaurants started to serve kaiseki ryori. Restaurants called ryotei (high class Japanese style restaurant), offered a less formal and restrictive style of cuisine to the general public. It attached more emphasis to the aesthetic form rather than the spiritual, and became a form of entertainment. Nowadays, chefs still receive inspiration from the changing seasons but emphasis is placed on presentation. Customers are treated to a daily menu decided by the fresh ingredients on hand. These hand picked ingredients enhance the appearance, taste, texture, and colour of kaiseki and raise it to masterpiece proportions.
Basic Kaiseki 懐石
1. Sakizuki 先付け
The first dish served as an appetizer to wet the palate
2. Hassun 八寸
The second dish served typically made of ingredients from the sea/mountains
3. Mukozuke 向付け
It is a dish placed on the far side of rice and soup. Traditionally, broiled or steamed fish was served but currently a sashimi dish is more common
4. Wanmono わんもの
A soup with simmered or steamed ingredients served in a bowl with a lid
5. Nimono 煮物
Niru, the verb form of Ni, means to boil. So this dish contains boiled vegetables
6. Yakimono 焼き物
Yaki means to grill and this dish may contain any number of grilled ingredients including fish
7. Mushimono 蒸し物
Musu means to steam and the ingredients are steamed
8. Gohan,Konomono, Tomewan ご飯、漬け物、とめわん
Gohan is rice, konomono are pickled vegetables and tomewan is a form of miso soup (soybeans, salt, shitake mushrooms, spinach, dashi, and nyumen noodles)
9. Mizumono 水物
Mizu refers to water and in this case fruits that were served as traditional desserts. Today, desserts are more elaborate and tend to deviate from its traditional form
Keep in Mind
The difficulty with eating at the high range Kaiseki Restaurants is the rigid protocals they operate by. For example, most require reservations and once you reserve it is problematic to cancel. Usually you can cancel up to two days prior to the reservation without a cancellation fee. However, if you try to cancel on the same day as the reservation, you will be charged a 100% cancellation fee. Also, Kaiseki restaurants tend to have only Japanese speakers on staff, so you will probably have to rely on a concierge or someone who speaks Japanese.
There are a number of locations around Kyoto, but this is the main restaurant. Michelin Guide has given it 3 stars on multiple occasions and Kikunoi is considered to be one of the best kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto.
Lunch 4,000-10,000 Yen
Dinner 15,000-30,000 Yen
Last Order 20:00
Note: Usually a 5% tax plus a 15% service charge is add to prices above
Credit Cards Accepted
VISA, MasterCard, American Express
Hours of Operation
Closed Irregular Schedule
Note: Reservation is necessary
From the major intersection of Shijo/Higashioji dori walk south along Higashioji dor on the east side (across from Lawson Convenience Store and same side as Yasaka Shrine). After walking 2-3 minutes you will come to Hotel Yasaka. Turn left and you’ll see a parking lot to your immediate left.
Continue down this street and you will soon pass one of Yasaka Shrine’s gates. Keep going straight until you reach another intersection. On the corner is a beige European style building. Turn right, and walk straight past the two tall stone lanterns.
Walk straight for approximately 3-5 minutes until you reach another intersection. Turn left, and you will soon see the restaurant 菊川石林店 on your right hand side.
There will be a beige building directly after 菊川石林店 but Kikunoi 菊乃井 will be the very next building on the right hand side. It’s located directly across from a place with the sign 墓石の藤田.
View Kikunoi 菊の井 in a larger map
Takeshigero does not receive as much attention as other Kaiseki Restaurants such as Kikunoi. However, it has been around since 1717 and still provides hight quality kaiseki meals. Also, they have English speaking staff to take care of basic reservations and other matters concerning the restaurant. Internet reservations via the home page are also possible.
Lunch 7,350-15,750 Yen
Dinner 15,750- 31,500 Yen
Last Order 19:30
Credit Cards Accepted
Hours of Operation
Phone 075-771-4185 (Japanese Country Code +81)
Internet Reservation Form
Takeshigero is located close to Heian Shrine. There is a major street by the name of Niomon dori that runs east and west. Walk east from the major intersection Nion dori/Jingu-michi(street leading north to Heian Shrine) past the Kyoto Traveler’s Inn until you reach the next major intersection (Niomon dori/Okazaki dori). Turn right, walk south along Okazaki dori. Keep walking until you reach the second small intersection and Takeshigero 竹茂楼 will be on the left hand side corner. At first glance it’s a little deceptive, but look for the Chinese letters 竹茂楼 written on a small light cover next to the driveway that leads to the restaurant.
View Takeshigero 竹茂楼 in a larger map
◊ References from Wikipedia Commons/What is Chanoyu?