1. Ninenzaka: Walking along the most emotional stone-paved slope in Kyoto

Ninenzaka: Walking along the most emotional stone-paved slope in Kyoto

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S-fleage is a Kyoto-based company. We are proud to introduce the charms of Kyoto to the world. We hope this article will help you to experience Kyoto.


Ninenzaka is a sacred approach to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This cobblestone-paved slope is lined with Kyoto souvenir shops and has a charming atmosphere. This area has been carefully considered for its history, culture, tourism, and lifestyle, and above all, the preservation of the landscape is emphasized.


There is also a legend that if one stumbles on this slope, he or she will die within two years. However, it is highly possible that this saying originated as a cautionary proverb, urging travelers to walk carefully up the stone steps. 

Be careful not to trip on the steps during the tourist season, when they are crowded with many people.

A Brief History of Ninenzaka

The exact origin of the name “Ninenzaka” is still unknown, but there are two main theories. 

One theory is that the slope was renovated in 807 during the Heian period (794-1185). The other theory is that the name “Ninenzaka” came to be used because of its location in front of the “Sannenzaka” slope. 

In 1976, the area was selected as an “Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings” in recognition of its elegance and scenery, and efforts are being made to preserve the atmosphere and landscape. 

Ninenzaka, with its high historical and cultural significance, is definitely a place that should not be missed by tourists visiting Kyoto.


How to Get to Ninenzaka

Access to Ninen-zaka is convenient by bus. It takes about 15 minutes from JR Kyoto Station on City Bus Route 206 bound for Higashiyama-dori Kitaoji Bus Terminal, get off at Kiyomizu-michi, and it’s about a 7-minute walk.




Before you learn about the highlights of Ninen-zaka, try enjoying the atmosphere of Ninen-zaka through a video!




Taking a Break on Ninenzaka

From souvenir stores selling traditional Japanese goods and sweets to elegant cafes and restaurants, Ninenzaka is an area where one is bound to want to stop by! Here I will introduce three spots that are uniquely Kyoto, ideal for a break or a bite to eat.

Kasagiya: Sweet Treats on Ninenzaka

Kasagiya is a sweet shop tucked away by the stone steps of Ninenzaka, a slope loved by the Taisho era poet Takehisa Yumeji. Once you step into the shop, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time to the Taisho era, creating a nostalgic and elegant atmosphere.

You can taste traditional sweets such as o-hagi (rice cakes) and zenzai (sweet bean soup). In summer, shiruko shakes are a recommendation.

Once you step into the store, you are in a different world from the hustle and bustle of Ninenzaka. Spending a relaxing time in this historic place will add a heartwarming moment to your sightseeing in Kyoto, and you will feel the charm of Kyoto to the fullest.


Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chayaten: Starbucks with Tatami Mat Seating

Starbucks in a renovated old private house

The world-famous Starbucks has set up a store here in Ninenzaka, in a renovated old house that has been in use for more than 100 years. The chic exterior blends in so well with the Kyoto cityscape that I overlooked it at first. 

The interior has the atmosphere of a good old Japanese house, and to my surprise, there is a tatami room on the second floor. The store is popular among foreigners, and before 9:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, I already could not get a seat. 

It is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a cup of coffee they are accustomed to drinking while in Kyoto! It is recommended when you want to take a breather.

Yudofu Okutan Kiyomizu: Tofu Specialties Since 1635

Founded in the early Edo period (1635), it is the oldest surviving yudofu restaurant. The rooms, built in the traditional Japanese style of the Taisho period (1912-1926), overlook a magnificent Japanese garden of approximately 600 tsubo (approximately 1,000 square meters). 

Renowned for its commitment to traditional tofu cuisine, this long-established restaurant has faithfully preserved its history, flavor, and atmosphere for generations. 

While the main street is crowded with tourists, the private rooms offer a tranquil atmosphere that is enhanced by the beauty of the garden. 

Initially skeptical of a tofu-only meal,I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the dishes were appetizing. To secure a seat at this renowned restaurant, it is recommended to make a reservation in advance.


Experience on Ninenzaka

Here are some unique experiences you can have at Ninenzaka. I hope you will try them out!

Kimono Rentals in Kyoto

Ninenzaka is known for its romantic atmosphere, and it is common to see travelers with professional photographers. Many people rent kimonos to take pictures in this beautiful place. Why not stroll around Ninenzaka in a kimono? 

There are several kimono rental stores in Ninenzaka, and the staff is very attentive. Even if you are not sure which kimono to choose, the store clerks will recommend something that would suit you. 

They are also very attentive when it comes to dressing you, and will even teach you how to walk and sit. Your trip to Kyoto will surely be a wonderful memory.

Capture Memories at Yasakanotou Pagoda and the Enchanting Cobblestone Street

With Hokanji Temple (Yasakanotou Pagoda) in the background, this is a good place to stop during a stroll. Looking ahead to the right at the top of the stone steps of Ninenzaka! 

The majestic Yasakanotou Pagoda, the stone-paved slope, and the rows of old houses on either side of it create the atmosphere of Kyoto. 


The old townscape with Yasakanotou Pagoda in the background is a typical scene of Higashiyama, Kyoto. 

Cherry blossoms in spring, sarusuri (monkey slides) in summer, and the lights of the street lamps and pagoda at night create a peaceful atmosphere! It is a must-see photo spot.

Other Must-See Attractions Near Ninenzaka

The area around Ninenzaka is full of sights. Let’s take a stroll.

Kiyomizudera(Kiyomizu-dera Temple)

After climbing the stone steps of Ninenzaka, proceed to Sannenzaka! Sannenzaka leads to Kiyomizu-zaka and Matsubara-dori, and then to Kiyomizudera.

Kiyomizudera is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its official name is Otowasan Kiyomizudera, founded in 787 by Enchin Shonin.

Kiyomizudera is characterized by its “Kiyomizu-no-butai” (stage of Kiyomizu), which is set on a precipitous cliff. 

From the stage, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Kyoto. Other highlights include the Niomon Gate, the three-story pagoda, and Otowa Falls, known as a power spot.


Sannenzaka Slope

Both Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka were developed as part of the Kiyomizu-dera temple path and designated as “Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings” in Kyoto. 

The old streets are the reason for the popularity of this area with general stores, souvenir shops, sweet shops, and eateries lining both sides of the street. It is recommended to stop by before or after sightseeing at Kodaiji Temple or Kiyomizu-dera Temple. 

At the southern end of Ninenzaka, about 100 meters up a flight of stairs is Sannenzaka. The name “Sannenzaka” comes from the fact that the slope was named “Sanneizaka,” meaning “the slope of prayer for safe delivery,” which in turn led to the name Sannenzaka.


Kodaiji Temple

A Zen temple of the Kenninji school of the Rinzai sect, built by Nene, wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. 

It is characterized by its gorgeous Momoyama Period architectural style and beautiful garden. The temple holds many cultural properties, including national treasures and important cultural assets. 

The temple is also known for its beautiful autumn foliage! 


What You Need to Know Before You Go

If you want to avoid the crowds on Ninenzaka and take pictures of the beautiful scenery, it is best to avoid the daytime during the cherry blossom blooming period. 

Especially during the blooming season, the area is likely to be crowded with tourists trying to stroll and take pictures around Kiyomizudera. 

Wait until the gates of Kiyomizudera are closed and the area is quiet before going for an evening stroll to enjoy a more peaceful time.


Enjoy a Charming Stroll Through Kyoto at Ninenzaka

Walking along Ninenzaka is truly magical where one can feel the soul of Kyoto. 

The shops and buildings seen during the stroll symbolize the diversity and charm of Kyoto. There are charming souvenirs, traditional crafts, and Japanese sweet shops, making even just walking enjoyable.

During the day, the street is bustling with tourists, and the whole town is wrapped in liveliness, but at night, Ninenzaka transforms into a completely different world. The old town is enveloped in soft light, emitting a fantastical beauty.

These shimmering views calm the heart and provide unforgettable moments of the night. Ninenzaka, overflowing with charm both day and night, is sure to be an unforgettable memory for those who want to fully savor the allure of Kyoto.