Anthony Bourdain in Kyoto: 2 Spots Where Tony Ate
In the whole wide world, there are some places that Anthony Bourdain visited extensively and repeatedly – and some which he only began to scratch the surface, leaving us as the audience wanting more. Kyoto, the relatively small (by Japanese standards) city outside Osaka, is one of those places.
Anthony Bourdain visited Kyoto as part of filming season 4 (episode 16) of No Reservations back in 2008. This was his only on-screen visit to Kyoto, though Tony visited other parts of Japan many times (10 episodes in total!).
While he didn’t spend much time there, I still thought it was worth putting together a guide to the (two) places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kyoto. As you’ll see, he sampled some of Japan’s best cuisine in Kyoto despite his brief visit – and also tried his hand at Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. He packed a lot into a quick visit!
Want to watch the episote where Anthony Bourdain visits Kyoto?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon (where it is marked as season 7, episode 3 for some reason) or on Apple TV.
Tony’s first stop in Kyoto is at Toriki, a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) much like the one he visited in Hokkaido. While we don’t know whether he stayed here or just ate, the meal he enjoyed looked delicious.
Served in the traditional style, Bourdain enjoyed yakitori (skewered and barbequed meat) focused exclusively on chicken: chicken with leeks, rare white meat, crispy chicken spleen, chicken sashimi, chicken whites with sauce, other sweetmeats, and crispy skin.
Bourdain’s second stop in Kyoto is at another ryokan: Hiiragiya Ryokan. At this establishment, he enjoys another traditional type of Japanese meal, kaiseki. This is a multi-course meal that usually focuses on seasonally available and regional ingredients, so changes frequently.
At the time of his visit, Tony enjoyed several courses including Japanese butterfish and miso, cod sperm soup, and others.
Food Tours in Kyoto to Try
As we don’t have as many suggestions for where to eat in Kyoto based on Anthony Bourdain’s travels there, I thought it would be helpful to include a few food tours you can book in addition (or instead, if you’re unable to get a reservation at these ryokans). Here are a few that look good to me and seem to channel some of the essences of how Tony liked to explore a place through food:
Other Places Tony Visited in Japan
Given the brevity of this guide and how it’s unlikely you’re visiting just Kyoto during your trip to Japan, I thought it would be helpful to recap the other places Anthony Bourdain visited in Japan too.
- Hokkaido – Bourdain explored Japan’s northern island to discover regional dishes and indigenous cuisine.
- The Ishikawa Prefecture – Tony made two trips to this small part of the country for incredible meals with talented chefs.
- Okinawa – He also visited southern Okinawa, seeking to unpack the city’s complex history and culture through food.
- Osaka – Neighboring Kyoto, Bourdain explored “the nation’s kitchen” through many interesting meals.
- Tokyo – Unsurprisingly, Tony made several trips to Tokyo during his career, always seeking to understand the city and its food a little bit more.
You can also refer to my complete Japan country guide for more info about places he visited even less than he did in Kyoto.
Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kyoto or where to eat during your visit? Let me know in the comments.