Kyoto is my favourite city in Japan. Though I have yet to visit all the cities and prefectures of Japan, Kyoto is the city that keeps me going back to the country. When travel is still not available due to COVID, looking at my travel photos of Kyoto reminds me of the beauty of the city that never fails to allure any visitor.
As the ancient capital of Japan and the cultural heart of the country, it is an atmospheric city where you can take a slower pace and immerse yourself in the mysterious yet beautiful city. One of my favourite activities in Kyoto is to visit a tea room and enjoy a moment of tranquillity through 5 senses – definitely a perfect antidote to the hectic pace of modern life.
Nestled inside the Nijō Castle, a World Heritage Site in central Kyoto, Waraku-an is a tea house that serves up traditional Japanese tea in a lovely Japanese house. I like to take a stroll through the castle, enjoy the crisp autumn air of Japan, then walk past the castle moat to Seiryu-en Garden, before walking into Waraku-an, the hidden tea house located within the Nijo Castle.
This quaint and charming tea house overlooking the beautiful imperial garden is located at the northernmost part of the castle ground. This space is strictly reserved for guests who intend to take tea. You’ll be rejected admission if you are only planning to snap a few photos in there. Tea and pairing wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet confectionary) are not overly expensive here. It is not a formal tea house so you can enjoy a cup of tea in a relaxed environment.
Autumn menu is relatively simple here at Waraku-an. You can choose to have traditional matcha with the beautiful wagashi, or coffee with western confectionary. During my visit, there was a wagashi exhibition by Oimatsu Kitano (老松 京菓子) in the castle. So in collaboration with the time-honoured confectionary, Waraku-an was serving their guests one of the wagashi that was served in the imperial palace!
I enjoyed the traditional matcha with wagashi pairing as much as I enjoyed the black coffee with the matcha chiffon cake, clotted cream and azuki bean by the side. The experience of sipping a warm bowl of matcha at the world heritage site, away from the crowd, was surreal. Before my eyes were the beautifully manicured gardens. The leaves were starting to turn yellow. And the early autumn breeze was gentle… It was one of my best casual tea house experience in Kyoto!
Writer’s Note: Waraku-an is a perfect place to enjoy traditional Japan tea after a tour in the stunning Nijo Castle of Kyoto. As one of the hidden gems in Kyoto, this tea house is an oasis of serenity to cultivate a peaceful, relaxed state of mind. However, do note that the tea house might be booked out for event during some time of the year. It is best to check with the ticket office before purchasing your entrance ticket.
Some photos of this blog are from Japan Travel.
Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8301, Japan
Tel: +81 75-823-0223