Step into the enchanting neighborhood of Ichijoji in Kyoto where everything revolves around steaming bowls of heavenly goodness: Ichijoji Ramen Koji. Get ready to slurp your way through the alleyways, where the aroma of rich broth and hand-pulled noodles fills the air and explore the Ichijoji Ramen Koji – a mecca for ramen enthusiasts in search of the ultimate noodle experience. Get there and enjoy some of the best ramen in Kyoto.
What is Kyoto Ichijoji and the Ramen Street/District?
The Ichijoji neighborhood is located in the northern part of Kyoto. It is famous for its historical temples and its association with Zen Buddhism. Daitokuji Temple is one of the most well-known temples. It is a complex of Zen temples and gardens.
Lately, Ichijoji has gained recognition for its pulsating food scene. The neighborhood is especially renowned for its numerous ramen shops, which serve delicious bowls of this popular Japanese noodle dish and cater tourists and locals alike. Ichijoji Ramen Street, also known as “Ramen Koji,” is in fact not only a street but a whole district with a variety of ramen shops. Each shop often specializes in a particular style of ramen, showcasing the diversity and regional variations of this beloved Japanese dish.
The sheer number of ramen shops aligned there is really impressive. Strolling around is fun. And deciding which place to eat in is really difficult.
One must be careful here with words here. On the one hand there is a Ramen Street in Ichijoji which is in fact not a single street but a whole district or neighborhood. On the other hand there is the Kyoto Ramen Street which is a dedicated area within Kyoto Station on the 10th floor of the Isetan department store building. It is a food court-style area where you can find a collection of different ramen shops, each offering their own unique flavors and styles of ramen.
Whereas Kyoto Ramen Street in Kyoto station is an easy way to get a quick bite, Ichijoji Ramen Street is a whole different and unique experience of its own.
4 of the best Ramen in Kyoto Ichijoji
We have been trying four ramen restaurants in Ichijoji. All of them were not disappointing at all. Please read one for a description and rating of them.
Also check out our Youtube Channel for videos on each of them.
Gokkei Ramen is regarded as a highly popular and famous shop in Ichijoji. Their signature dish is Tori Paitan. Their speciality is the incredible thick and creamy soup. A thickness of a soup you might have never seen before. The creaminess of the broth is achieved through a meticulous cooking process that extracts the essence of the chicken bones. This gives the ramen a depth of flavor and an incredible taste. Toppings include tender slices of chashu, marinated bamboo and scallions.
Due to its popularity, Gokkei can get crowded during peak hours and queues outside the shop are common. However, the taste of their dishes makes it worth waiting.
Located about a 6 minutes walk from Ichijoji Station.
Traditional Chuuka Soba, a soup style that has been inherited from the old days in Kyoto. Something you can eat every day and never get tired off. The soup looks black and thick but has a moderate aroma of soy sauce. It’s not too strong but still intense and matches well with the pork and the noodles. The noodles soak up lots of the soup and make it taste great in your mouth.
Located about a 4 minutes walk from Ichijoji Station.
Chin-yu Ichijoji Main Shop
A restaurant dating back into the times after World War two where it started as a very small shop now running a couple of stores around Kyoto Their chuuka soba broth is a thick soup with plenty of fat. Chicken bones, whole chicken and momiji mushrooms are slowly cooked to create a collagen-rich soup. Soy sauce from long established makers is added for the mellow flavor. The ramen itself and the restaurant’s style and interior reflect their long history.
Located about a 4 minutes walk from Ichijoji Station.
A restaurant that attracted me due to its offer of Mazesoba on the menu. The thickness of the noodles is great. Topped with onions and cubes of chashu. The sauce (tare) is incredibly tasty, and perfectly soaked by the noodles.Cointer seats in the restaurants are circled around the open kitchen. So eating is an experience when observing the chef preparing the noodles right in front of you.
Located about a 5 minutes walk from Ichijoji Station.
Q&A – Answering Questions about the Ichijoji Ramen Street and the best ramen in Kyoto
Why are there so many Ramen restaurants in Kyoto Ichijoji?
The reasons why Kyoto’s Ichijojo gained a reputation as a Ramen hotspot are manifold. Naming all those factors that contribute to its abundance of Ramen restaurants are difficult to name. However, here are some of them.
1. University Influence: The presence of Kyoto University attracts students who seek affordable and comforting meals, leading to a proliferation of ramen shops in Ichijoji.
2. Historical Ramen Culture: Ichijoji showcases Kyoto’s distinct ramen styles and flavors that have evolved over time, offering a unique culinary experience.
3. Culinary Competition: The high concentration of ramen restaurants in Ichijoji fosters competition, resulting in diverse ramen choices as each shop aims to stand out.
4. Local Taste Preferences: Kyoto’s ramen scene reflects a preference for lighter and refined flavors, shaping the ramen offerings in Ichijoji.
5. Ramen Tourism: Ichijoji’s reputation as a ramen hotspot attracts enthusiasts from around the world, making it a popular destination for ramen tourism.
How to get to Kyoto Ichijoji Ramen Street?
The Ichijoji Ramen Street resp. the Ramen neighborhood is located around the Ichijoji Station of the Eizan Main Line. The Eizan Line is a unique vintage style railway that serves the northern areas of Kyoto and has its final stop at the foot of Mount Hiei. On the other side of the river a short walk away also the Matsugasaki station of the Karasuma Subway Line is there. As Kyoto Station is the main hub here follows the description for how to get from Kyoto Station to Ichijoji.
Access by Eizan Line from Kyoto Station
- From Kyoto Station take a walk (10-15min, 0.9km) to Shichijo Station of the Keihan Main Line
- Take any train of the Keihan Line towards the final stop Demachiyanagi
- Change there to the Eizan Line
- Take any train of the Eizan Line to Ichijoji (3 stops)
Access by Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Station
- Take the Karasuma Line from the subway station in the basement of Kyoto Station
- Get off at Matsugasaki Station
- Take a walk (20-25min, 1.8km) to Ichijoji
Which Ramen should I try in Ichijoji?
This question is definitely not easy to answer. Once you get there you will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options to choose from. Just strolling around, looking at different shops and entering the one that attracts you is not a bad choice. In case you cannot decide for one place, just try a couple of them. Many of the shops offer small portions (小) of their dishes. So you may be able to eat a second or even third one. Don’t worry, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Just eat one, have a couple of drinks, take a longer walk and be ready for the next one.
What other tourist attractions can I combine Ichijoji Ramen Street with?
Ichijoi and Ramen Street are located in the northern area which offer plenty of other attractions as well. Mount Hiei is at the final stop of the Eizan Line. There is a cable car and ropeway taking you up to the mountain. On top are several temples and stunning views.
The philosopher path is a 30 minute walk (2.7km) away from Demachiyanagi Station.
Are the best ramen in Kyoto found in Ichijoji?
This question is difficult to answer. The history and the sheer number of restaurants makes the competition high and ensures that there are definitely some of the best ramen in Kyoto found here. Of course other areas might serve great ramen as well. However, Ichijoji Ramen Street is the perfect start point to enter this great food culture.
Ichijoji and the Kyoto Ramen Street are a truly unique experience. For a foodie, a ramen lover or simply a tourist hungry after a day of sightseeing, all of you will find a great bowl of ramen in this area. Give it a try, stroll around and just enter a shop that looks delicious.