Location: Kyoto City

Good for:

  • Walkers
  • Photographers
  • Culture buffs

Quick points

  • All day
  • Mostly outside
  • On the higher side of the budget spectrum

What are the elements of a classic date? The kind that would feature in a rom-com film montage. Sweet, shared experiences would make up the main action, somewhere memorable, photogenic. There would be long, romantic walking scenes out in the sunshine, surrounded by nature, followed by an intimate moment in a cute cafe, accepting a taste of the other’s confections or coffee as true love blossoms. The familiar formula may seem cheesy, but just as the 1995 version of Pride And Prejudice has withstood the test of time, so does the charm of the classic date.

And in Kyoto, couples can find all the aforementioned elements to create their own romantic memory montage, as they build a really good relationship together.

Couples in Kimono around Kiyomizu Dera

The first stop on a classic Kyoto date should be the kimono rental shop. Renting a kimono to wear while walking in Kyoto has been a popular pastime for almost two hundred years. This is according to Rental Kimono Okamoto, an establishment which claims to have been the first to offer the service back in 1830.

Kiyomizu Dera Wonderful For Dating Couples

The view from Kiyomizu Dera over Kyoto and the distant Kyoto tower.

Kimono match Kyoto, particularly along the scenic streets Ninezaka and Sannenzaka, lined with wooden machiya and cobblestones. This is the place to take the perfect pictures, and the earlier the better, as the area around Kiyomizu Dera becomes crowded later in the day.

Yasaka Pagoda From Sannenzaka Street In Kyoto Japan

Arrive early in the morning to capture this famous shot of Yasaka pagoda from Sannenzaka street.

Beautiful Kimono Enrich The Japanese Dating Experience

A recent boom in retro has influenced the rise in a “vintage” style, wherein Western lace and boots are paired with obi and wagasa umbrellas.

There are many rental shops conveniently located in the main sightseeing spots: Arashiyama, Gion, and Kiyomizu Dera.

  • Rental Kimono Okamoto, open 10am to 6pm, has a bilingual website and carries kimono in larger sizes.
  • Kimono Rental Kyoetsu, open from 9am to 5:30pm, has a bilingual website along with a range of retro kimono and accessories to enjoy.
  • Rikawafuku opens the earliest, from 8:30, has retro kimono, and a bilingual website.
  • Yumeyakata opens from 10am but offers overnight plans, ensuring a more relaxed evening, and for early birds (who can tie their own kimono) to take pictures in the morning before the crowds arrive.
Entry To Kiyomizu Dera Peaceful Temple And Dating Spot

Entry to Kiyomizu Dera is only 400 yen, and it opens from 6am. The temple holds evening foliage “light ups” in autumn and spring.

Cake in a Cute Cafe

After an energetic morning of kimono selfies around Kiyomizu Dera, a weary couple could slip into Ten. This tiny nook, part pottery souvenir shop, part cafe, is a calm harbour safe from the hustle of the street outside. However, with large windows, it also provides an excellent vantage point for people watching.

And cake. They also have cake. Specifically matcha swirled tofu cheesecake.

Matcha Swirled Tofu Cheesecake At Ten Great To Share

Ten has other options, including a soy ice-cream parfait and green tea terrine, but the menu is quite limited. Everyone comes for this amazing cake.

Catch the Kouyou in Kyoto

Though only available in a short window between mid/late November to early December, coming during the red autumn leaves, or kouyou, season is the most classic way to see Kyoto. Not only is wearing a warm kimono more comfortable at this time of year, but the colour matches the crimson blankets in a rickshaw. Snuggling while being pulled through the chilly streets is a romantic scene undoubtedly included in every rom-com couple montage.

Romantic Rickshaw Rides Around Gion Arashiyama And Higashiyama

Rickshaw rides around Gion, Arashiyama and Higashiyama are available at all times of year, but they match the autumn colours so well.

Crossing the Kamogawa

The Kamogawa river is the perfect setting to stroll. Couples can exchange witty comments in the style of romance film staple, Before Sunrise, or protectively point out tombi that hover, hoping for an unsuspecting individual’s lunch. The Sanjo bridge has been the meeting place of young lovers in Kyoto for centuries (so many Kyoto residents believe anyway), and looks particularly pretty at night, as lights from the wooden balconies of Ponto-cho reflect off the water. At points along the river, couples can help each other hop across the stepping stones, which can be both fun and romantic, even if one of you falls in. This date is all about the memories!

Kamogawa Kyoto Great For Romantic Walks

Kamogawa stretches north to south and splits Kyoto in half. Stay safe and dry on the wide banks or venture across the stepping stones. Consider a picnic date here in spring!

Dating Along Kamogawa In Kyoto

Sanjo bridge is closer to the main action of the city, and a nice place to sit with a conbini bento and coffee (just beware the birds).

Nightcap at KI NO BI

Finally, to finish off the ultimate Kyoto date with a touch of class, consider House of KI NO BI, a bar and brand retailer for premium gin distillery, KI NO BI. A relative newcomer, established in 2015, KI NO BI gin has become world renowned for its delicate flavours. Nine of the eleven “botanicals” used in the recipe come from small family owned farms within Kyoto prefecture itself, including gyokuro green tea from Uji and yuzu from Ohara.

Visit House Of KI NO BI For A Charming End To The Classic Kyoto Date

A visit to House of KI NO BI could be a charming end to the classic Kyoto date.

House of KI NO BI resides within a tastefully renovated machiya. Squares of antique kimono line the wooden bar; hand-lacquered gin bottles are framed by an original uki-yo-e wallpaper print designed by local craftsmen; and a beautiful, very Kyoto-esque inner garden highlight the company’s dedication to and respect of tradition.

Ki No Bi Bar Quiet With Jazzy Tracks And A Warm Golden Ambience

The bar has quiet, jazzy tracks and a warm, golden ambience that feels old world and elegant.

Gin Flight Tasting At Ki No Bi Bar Kyoto Fun For Couples

The Gin Flight, a taster selection of three gin flavours, is the most popular offering on House of KI NO BI’s menu. Options include the flagship KI NO BI dry gin; KI NO TEA, a creamy concoction which includes Uji green tea; or for the sweet tooths, KI NO BAI, a plum flavoured, low alcohol gin. A house blend is distilled using spring water from the well in the garden, and can only be sampled at this site. Cocktails including martinis, negronis and gimlets, are, of course, on the menu. In a twist on the classic, soda is recommended over tonic as it preserves the subtle flavours of the gin.

For those looking for something beyond the bar experience,, House of KI NO BI has a free, upstairs educational area with bilingual information on the making of the gin and the origins of its botanicals. For later dates, as a healthy relationship develops, couples can consider one of the bilingual seminars which include tastings of the ingredients, and more information about the unique distilling process, wherein all the botanicals are distilled separately before mixing to ensure a consistent flavour.

Gin Tasting Seminar A Good Couples Experience To Enjoy

Kimono, Kiyomizu, Kamogawa, Kinobi, and of course cake: the elements of the classic Kyoto date, and the setting of a most romantic meet-cute montage. While enjoyable within one day, hopefully, this trip to Kyoto will be the first of many return visits together, provided your date really is your ideal life partner.

Kyoto Japan Beautiful Place For Love And Romance

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