It is possible to eat well in Kyoto, Japan if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but it takes planning. This gluten free Kyoto guide has everything you need to know!
I have celiac disease and recently spent a month in Japan, including 10 days in Kyoto. I really fell in love with Kyoto’s temples, tea houses, and nature.
There aren’t as many gluten free restaurants here as there are in Tokyo, but with some research, I still found seven 100% gluten free restaurants and a dozen or so others that can accommodate celiacs. I also found a gluten free-friendly kimono and tea ceremony!
In this article, I’m sharing what I learned. Let’s dive in!
NOTE | I have celiac disease and avoid cross contact. Saying that, staff, practices, menus, and hours can all change. I encourage you to always do your own research and ask questions before you dine.
Gluten Free Kyoto: What You Need to Know
Before we get into my gluten free restaurant recommendations in Kyoto, I want to share some general tips for gluten free travel in Japan.
My top 5 tips for gluten free travelers in Japan:
- This gluten free Japanese translation card is an essential.
- Be aware of the hidden sources of gluten in Japanese cuisine.
- Build your Kyoto itinerary around gluten free restaurants.
- Always double check opening hours and days because they change.
- Have a back up food plan.
There are a lot of restaurants in Kyoto that can cater to gluten free diets. Some are better than others. To help you avoid overwhelm, I have put a ☆ next to my very top picks.
RELATED | Ultimate Gluten Free Japan Guide
My Recommended Japanese Gluten Free Translation Card
I highly recommend buying this Japanese gluten free translation card before your trip to Kyoto. This is the card I used and it’s the best money I spent on our Japan trip.
Unlike other gluten free translation cards, this one is professionally translated by native Japanese speakers, created by a celiac who traveled Japan, and discusses hidden gluten sources in Japanese cuisine.
Restaurant staff in Kyoto took this translation card very seriously and understood it. It’s honestly a must-have for Japan!
Gluten Free Kyoto Map
To help you navigate your way around Kyoto, I created this map of gluten free options. You can download it to your phone and use it yourself!
Gluten free Kyoto map key:
- Dark blue: Dedicated gluten free bakeries and restaurants.
- Light blue: Restaurants with celiac safe options (not dedicated).
- Green: Things to see and do.
- Maroon house icon: Recommended places to stay.
7 Dedicated Gluten Free Kyoto Restaurants
Waco Crepes is an excellent 100% gluten free crepe restaurant in Kyoto.
I know it’s a little out of left field to make the first restaurant I mention in a gluten free Kyoto Japan guide be a crepe restaurant but… hear me out.
The crepes here were so good that I ordered two! The salmon and cream cheese crepe, in particular, is to DIE FOR. SO GOOD.
Address: Waco Crepes, Japan, 〒605-0801 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Miyagawasuji, 6 Chome, 355-1 1階
Gion Soy Milk Ramen Uno Yokiko ☆
Gion Soy Milk Ramen is a must stop for any celiac visiting Japan. To my knowledge, this is the only dedicated gluten free ramen restaurant in the country. It’s also vegan.
Yes, you can order gluten free ramen elsewhere in Japan but nowhere else is 100% gluten free and safe for celiacs.
This is one gluten free Kyoto restaurant that you want to arrive to early, or expect to wait in a line.
As for what we ate, I adored the gecko ramen; it was shockingly good. The gluten free gyozas, soy croquettes, and vegan chocolate crème brulee were also excellent. Honestly, everything was delicious.
Address: Gion Soy Milk Ramen, 40 Kameichō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0803, Japan
Souffle pancakes, anyone? Toshoan is a cute little bakery and pancake restaurant, that is completely gluten free. I actually booked our hotel in Kyoto in order to be close to this place, which was great because we ended up eating here twice!
This is one of the few places in Japan where gluten free folks can try the famous fluffy pancakes (I also found a place in Tokyo that offers these – check out my gluten free Tokyo guide).
It takes 30 minutes for them to make the pancakes but trust me, it’s worth it. I tried some of their baked goods too but the pancakes “take the cake” on this one (sorry for the pun).
Address: Toshoan, 709 Shimohachimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8333, Japan
Cafe & Bar Maru
Café & Bar Maru is an upscale bar and restaurant that is fully gluten free. The chef here is Japanese and is actually gluten free herself – which isn’t very common. And let me tell you, she is a very talented chef!
We came here for dinner and I ordered the fried pork cutlet. It honestly blew my mind a little it was so good.
Keep in mind that this place is more expensive than other gluten free restaurants in Kyoto. Nothing outrageous, like a kaiseki, but it can add up so maybe save it for a nicer meal out!
Address: Cafe & Bar Maru, Japan, 〒600-8012 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Saitocho, 123 RAKUAS木屋町 ３F
Café Planet is a fully gluten free and vegan café, located in the northern area of Kyoto.
Due to its location, I did not actually eat here myself, so let me know in the comments what you think, if you manage to visit.
Address: Cafe Planet, 447-5 Kajiicho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0841, Japan
CHOICE is another fully vegan and gluten free café. Although I want to warn you, I am not confident it actually is completely gluten free, like it advertises itself. Looking on their website, I saw that they mentioned one dish that uses wheat noodles. If that’s true, it seems incorrect to call themselves dedicated gluten free.
In any case, I decided not to eat here partly due to that confusion, but also because the reviews of the food itself weren’t that good. If you find anything out during your own visit to Kyoto, let me know so I can update this post!
Address: CHOICE, Japan, 〒605-0009 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Ohashicho, 89-1 鈴木形成外科ビル 1F
Choupette – CLOSED!
Choupette was an adorable cream puff bakery in Pontocho Alley. Sadly, they closed during our visit to Kyoto. I wanted to mention them here so you know they’re closed and don’t go out of your way to find them, because you’ll probably see them listed on other gluten free Kyoto lists.
I’ll keep this post updated in case they reopen, but it doesn’t appear they have plans to.
5 Best Kyoto Restaurants with Gluten Free Options
Kikyo Sushi ☆
Kikyo Sushi was one of my top favorite meals in Kyoto and all of Japan. We went back twice. It’s a must visit!
This is a family-run, 60-year-old sushi restaurant. I found Kikyo Sushi to be very gluten free aware, including offering gluten free soy sauce.
The owner’s son, Mitsuru (who speaks fluent English), advised me how to modify the sushi platters to be gluten free. For example, the egg topping and the miso soup are not gluten free. They replaced these with extra tuna nigiri (my FAVE).
I do think that Mitsuru is the only staff who really understands gluten free, so be sure to speak to him and not another member of staff.
Reservations at Kikyo Sushi
It helps to make a reservation (they get very full) and mention gluten free in that email so they are prepared. Better yet, include your translation card in the email!
On our first visit, I’d made a lunch reservation. Lunch is only offered on weekends. We both had an amazing sushi platter for only 1400 JPY, and sat at the bar watching the sushi be prepared while a baseball game played on TV. Core memory status!
Our second visit, we came for dinner and did not have a reservation. We arrived around 6pm and they were able to seat us in the back. Delicious again!
Reservations? Yes, recommended for lunch time or dinner after 7pm. Here are instructions for making a reservation.
Address: Kikyo Sushi, Japan, 〒604-0071 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Daimonjicho, 油小路通丸太町下る43-2 大文字町43
Sugarhill Kyoto is a Japanese-Western fusion restaurant. The owner here is very clued up on celiac disease so you will be in safe hands. Gluten free options are marked on the menu.
I came here for the gluten free chicken teriyaki and I recommend you do, too. I don’t think you can find that dish gluten free anywhere else in Japan!
It was extremely tasty. Dan (who is not gluten free!) ordered the same thing and I did note that mine was slightly different than his, so be sure to mention you’re gluten free when you order so that the owner can adjust the dish.
Sugarhill is quite affordable considering it is such a nice atmosphere with high quality food. It’s one of my top dinner recommendations in Kyoto.
Reservations? Not required, but go early to avoid waiting.
Address: Sugarhill Kyoto, 725 Uematsucho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8028, Japan
Teppan Tavern Tenamonya ☆
Teppan Tavern Tenamonya was a HUGE highlight for us. This is not your average restaurant, and getting reservations can be a struggle, so I’m writing a lot about this place to help you out.
This restaurant is iconic and famous for being extremely affordable for the quality you get.
For context, we ordered the Set B menu of wagyu beef, prawns, tempura crab, gyozas, okonomiyaki, and more, plus multiple gin and tonics, all for about $30 USD per person. Mind blown!
How to Make Reservations at Teppan Tavern Tenamonya
This is a tiny husband-and-wife run establishment, and they ONLY take reservations, no walk ins.
Reservations can be made online 14 days in advance, and I made mine at 12:01am (Japan time) because that’s how popular they are!!
I was able to get a reservation on my first try but I’ve heard of others who waited until morning and weren’t able to get in.
Check their website’s reservations page because they have a million rules on making reservations. Yes, I know their website looks like the powerpoint from hell but I PROMISE it is worth it to read all their rules and comply.
Gluten Free Options at Teppan Tavern Tenamonya
As for the gluten free friendliness of Teppan Tavern Tenamonya, there are some important things you need to know!
They can do the entire set menu gluten free, and YES, that includes gluten free tempura, gluten free gyozas, and gluten free okonomiyaki.
However! The only time slot that they can accommodate celiacs is 5pm!
You will have the entire restaurant to yourself for a full hour, so they can prep your gluten free food with no contamination. After that, other guests will trickle in as you’re eating.
Before our visit, I spoke to them a lot about cross contact (I think that previously, they were not aware of the importance of avoiding cross contact). Now, they actually have a whole page on their website about celiacs / “severe gluten allergy.”
I am so endlessly grateful that they took the time to learn from me and other gluten free folks, and made accommodations for celiacs. It is totally worth it to try and get a reservation here (and read all their rules haha).
The couple is just AMAZING and so kind and friendly… and the food is incredible.
Reservations? YES, absolutely required, 14 days ahead. Read reservation rules here.
Address: Teppan Tavern Tenamonya, Japan, 〒605-0074 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Gionmachi Minamigawa, 537-2 B1F
Teuchi Toru Soba ☆
Teuchi Toru Soba is a very small soba restaurant run by one man (named Toru) who does EVERYTHING from making the noodles to cooking them to serving and more.
This place is extremely gluten free friendly; Toru has very good knowledge of celiac. I also appreciated that he responded to my questions about cross contact over his Instagram ahead of time.
All the noodles here are 100% buckwheat and 100% gluten free. Toru told me he can guarantee that because he personally buys the buckwheat, mills it himself (so no cross contact from shared milling machines), and makes the noodles!
The only gluten in the restaurant is normal soy sauce, which he serves separately. He also has gluten free soy sauce, which he will serve you upon request.
Eating here was such a special and authentic-feeling experience. Note that he only serves lunch, and there is usually a wait (but in our experience it goes fast and is worth it!), and he’s closed some days. It is worth planning your Kyoto itinerary around coming here for lunch!
Reservations? No, reservations not taken. Be prepared to wait ~30 minutes.
Address: Teuchi Toru Soba, Japan, 〒604-0831 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Matsuyacho, ３５−1
Kyoto Engine Ramen
Kyoto Engine Ramen is the second restaurant in Kyoto that serves gluten free ramen, but this one is not dedicated gluten free.
I read online that the owner’s daughter has celiac. They offer normal ramen, vegetarian/vegan ramen, and gluten free ramen.
Honestly, though, I did not eat here because I was a bit scarred by being glutened at the ramen restaurant in Tokyo! I do think this restaurant is worth checking out based on its rave reviews, and I would probably try it next time!
Address: Kyoto Engine Ramen, 580-2 Nakanocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8042, Japan
Kyoto Cafes and Tea Gardens with Gluten Free Options
When in Japan, everyone needs the occasional mid-afternoon stop for tea and a sweet treat! Throughout my time in Kyoto, I discovered a number of cafes and tea gardens that offer gluten free options.
Kyoto cafes with gluten free options:
- MACCHA HOUSE: Famous for its viral matcha tiramisu (which is NOT gluten free). The only thing GF here is the matcha soft serve, served in a cup not a box because the box corners are very hard to clean the tiramisu cake out of! I was a little underwhelmed but it was nice to have something to eat while Dan had the tiramisu.
- Vermillion Cafe: A cafe located on the way down from the Fushimi Inari shrine. We stopped in for coffees (they have amazing espresso drinks!) and I saw GF marked on the menu! GF options include hummus with vegetables, and two desserts.
- Kodai-Ji Tea Garden: Beautiful zen gardens in one of my favorite temples. There is a gorgeous tea house at the end of the walking route. The server read my translation card and the confectionary on the day we visited was safe – made of yam and rice flour.
- Cafebar Mokukoku: Vegan cafe near the Yasaka Pagoda. I saw in passing that they serve GF muffins and donuts, but I didn’t try the food or ask about cross contact. Please report back in the comments if you try this place!
- Nijo Castle Tea Garden: We didn’t end up having time to go here, but I would definitely try it as I’m obsessed with Japan’s tea houses in zen gardens! It looks like they serve shaved ice, which is usually gluten free.
Gluten Free Arashiyama – Near Kyoto
Arashiyama is a beautiful area, very close to Kyoto city. It is really popular to come here for a half day trip from Kyoto, to see the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the Arashiyama Monkey Park.
I loved Arashiyama and on a future visit I’d enjoy spending 1-2 nights at a ryokan here. However, Dan and I only had a day trip this time, and I want to mention where we ate!
Yosiya is an upscale Halal Japanese restaurant in Arashiyama. It’s notable because they can do celiac safe, gluten free TEMPURA!
This was our final meal with the help of Gluten Free Tours Japan and I’m so glad we had them. Actually, Dan and I originally planned to eat at Yosiya on our own, but we ended up extending our services with GFTJ by an extra couple days.
That was very lucky for me, because it would have been tough to eat at Yosiya without their help.
Hiroshi called to make our reservations (which are required for the set meals), and he double checked that the fried food that day was celiac safe (which was very unclear from my own investigations – and can change regularly).
As for my set menu, it included gluten free tempura, hot pot, and a platter of various foods. It was sooo fun, and the closest we came to a kaiseki experience beyond our ryokan stay in Hakone (that Gluten Free Tours Japan also arranged for us).
Overall, this meal cost 3300 JPY (~$23 USD) for the full set, which was beyond reasonable for what I got, and definitely worth it!
Address: Yosiya, Japan, 〒616-8384 Kyoto, Ukyo Ward, Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichicho, ３１
More Gluten Free Arashiyama Options
If you plan to spend longer in Arashiyama, here are some more places to eat!
More Arashiyama restaurants with gluten free options:
- % ARABICA: This coffee shop on the river bank gets a lot of hype and it deserves that hype. No, there’s not gluten free food here. However, the Kyoto Latte was the best latte I’ve ever had in my life, so go for that!
- Tenriyu Temple: Shigetsu, the zen vegetarian restaurant at this temple, supposedly does a gluten free tofu set meal. However, you need to make reservations ahead of time by phone. I think it would be best to go here with the help of Gluten Free Tours Japan, who can explain celiac needs in Japanese!
- Sushi Naritaya: I’ve seen good gluten free reviews for this sushi restaurant in Arashiyama, including that they serve gluten free soy sauce.
- Togetsutei: An upscale ryokan in Arashiyama. I know someone who is gluten free who stayed here and was able to get GF breakfast and dinner! Again Gluten Free Tours Japan could be helpful with communicating and organizing this.
I really have to plug Gluten Free Tours Japan here again, because they know some special off-the-beaten path restaurants in Arashiyama (they helped us find a 100% gluten free bakery). It would definitely be useful to hire them if you plan to spend time in more remote places like Arashiyama.
And no, this isn’t sponsored by them at all – we paid our own way for our week using their services and all opinions are my own.
Gluten Free Tea Ceremony in Kyoto
While in Kyoto, I really wanted to take part in a traditional tea ceremony. Kyoto is a very historical city and felt like the right place to do this!
After a lot of research, we ended up booking this tea ceremony and Kimono wearing with Maikoya, in central Kyoto.
It was sooo much fun, and definitely a bucket list tick to get dressed up in beautiful kimonos (they even did my hair!). I found the company really accommodating for gluten free diets, too. We double checked that the matcha and wagashi (sweet) were gluten free!
Gluten Free Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market is the main food market in Kyoto that tourists visit. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up finding anything gluten free to eat here.
I found the market very crowded, with mostly fried, gluten-y food options. It was not nearly as expansive as the markets we went to in Osaka or Tokyo.
Pesonally, I believe that the food market in Osaka had the best gluten free options, with Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market coming in second, so my advice is to prioritize those over Nishiki Market.
Gluten Free “Back Up Options” in Kyoto
Like other cities in Japan, there are some reliable “back up options” if you need a safe gluten free meal, when other restaurants have fallen through.
These include conbinis (like 7/11 or Family Mart). Check out my gluten free conbini guide for a list of GF products.
There are also some safe chain restaurants (like Coco Curry and Mos Burger).
I will share more details on what’s safe to order in my general gluten free Japan guide, so stay tuned for that!
Restaurants in Kyoto I Do NOT Recommend for Celiacs
Below are some restaurants that I was recommended before our trip to Kyoto, but that I do not believe are celiac safe.
I want to mention them here so you don’t waste too much of your own time (or get sick!) if you are sensitive to gluten.
Kyoto restaurants that are NOT celiac safe:
- 10 Soba: A frequently recommended soba and tempura restaurant that is NOT celiac safe! They do buckwheat gluten free tempura and soba however the owner uses normal, gluten-containing soy sauce and “believes it is gluten free,” so he doesn’t offer an alternative. This is unsafe for the gluten free community so I would avoid if you’re celiac.
- IKARIYA BEIKA KYOTO: Sadly, also not celiac safe. They sell rice flour traditional Japanese cakes, however when we visited they had signs up saying they use wheat flour in their kitchen and it all gets mixed together so none of their products are suitable for allergies.
Just a reminder to not trust the Find Me Gluten Free app, Facebook reviews, or even my own blog posts point blank. I always recommend asking your own questions to confirm gluten free status because things can change.
More Restaurants in Kyoto With Gluten Free Options
There are more restaurants in Kyoto that can cater to gluten free diets than the ones I’ve listed above.
As I mentioned, Dan and I spent our first two days in Kyoto using the services of Gluten Free Tours Japan. They helped us eat at some additional restaurants, where we had gluten free Japanese curry, sushi, mochi, and more!
All of those restaurants would have been challenging to navigate as a non-Japanese speaker. Out of respect to GFTJ and their business model, I’m not sharing them here.
Compared to Japan as a whole, it is relatively easy to navigate Kyoto gluten free. However, I definitely recommend Gluten Free Tours Japan for your time in Kyoto if:
- You’re spending a long time in Kyoto
- You’re traveling with gluten-eating companions
- You want to go off the beaten path
- You want to eat at places requiring reservations (like Yosiya)
Where to Buy Gluten Free Soy Sauce in Kyoto
However, if you are already in Japan while you’re reading this, you still have some options. In Kyoto, you can buy gluten free soy sauce bottles at Waco Crepes.
Where to Stay in Kyoto If You’re Gluten Free
I am a big advocate for booking hotels near gluten free restaurants. This makes a trip so much easier!
In Kyoto, we booked the Prince Smart Inn Kyoto Shijo Omiya because it was close to Toshoan! No regrets. Read about it, and other places I recommend staying in Kyoto, below.
Prince Smart Inn Shijo Omiya ($-$$)
We stayed at the Prince Smart Inn Shijo Omiya for our entire time in Kyoto. It was an amazing option for us as mid-range budget travelers. The hotel was impeccably clean, had laundry on site, and the room was spacious for Japanese standards with an especially nice bathroom.
As for gluten free options, there is an included breakfast but it is not gluten free. However, Toshoan (100% GF fluffy pancakes!) is a 7 minute walk away.
As for location, there is a bus stop and Omiya Station literally a minute away, so it’s easy to get anywhere. And if you enjoy walking like we do, it took about 30 minutes to walk to central/downtown Kyoto.
It was nice staying outside the chaotic tourist center of Kyoto and also meant we could get a lower price.
JUNEI Hotel ($$-$$$)
If I have a higher budget on my next trip to Japan, I will definitely try to stay at the JUNEI Hotel. This is a luxury hotel designed in the traditional Japanese style, that is able to offer a fully gluten free Kyoto-style breakfast! Rooms also have cedar tubs.
This hotel has two locations in Kyoto.
The JUNEI Kyoto Imperial Palace West location is a 7-minute walk from Kikyo Sushi (my fave celiac safe sushi!!).
And the JUNEI Kyoto is located on the other side of the river, closer to Gion and the touristy area. It is a 10-15 minute walk from Sugarhill Kyoto, Waco Crepes, and other popular GF restaurants.
Gluten Free Kyoto Japan: Final Thoughts
There you have it, my complete gluten free guide to Kyoto, Japan!
If you are wondering where to start, here are my top 5 gluten free meals I ate in Kyoto:
- Teppan Tavern Tenamonya: Incredibly special and memorable dining experience, with GF tempura, gyozas, and okonomiyaki to boot.
- Kikyo Sushi: An authentic, family-run sushi experience.
- Yosiya: Gluten free tempura in a beautiful setting in Arashiyama.
- Teuchi Toru Soba: Extremely authentic, local feeling soba restaurant.
- Toshoan: 100% gluten free fluffy pancakes, need I say more?
If you have any questions at all about traveling gluten free in Kyoto, or Japan as a whole, leave me a comment below or reach out via my Instagram!