You have probably heard of Shojin Ryōri, commonly found in Japanese temples. But how about Fucha Ryōri (普茶料理)? Fucha Ryōri is Shojin Ryōri introduced from China, so while they are both monk cuisines, the style slightly differs. Instead of having one plate per dish per person, Fucha Ryōri’s dishes are usually shared between 4 people. The dishes are placed in the middle of the table for everyone to share because as long as you are on the same table, no one is superior or inferior to another person.
Kanga-an (閑臥庵) in Kyoto is a Zen temple established in 1671 at the request of Emperor Go-mizuno’o (後水尾法皇). At the time, a part of the spirit of the god of Kibune‘s Okunoin, Chitakureifu (鎮宅霊符), was ceremonially transferred, and Kanga-an was erected by Sengai (千呆), a Zen monk from Manpuku-ji Temple (黄檗山萬福寺) in China who was invited to Japan.
Chitakureifu is the god who ranks the highest in Onmyōdō (陰陽道).
In today’s terms, Kanga-an was built as Emperor Go-mizuno’o’s retirement home. Guarding by the most powerful god of Onmyōdō and Buddha, he was able to enjoy a relaxing life composing Waka poems and admiring the garden. This is why the temple was named Kanga-an, meaning a peaceful place to lie down and relax.
Note that as the historical record is confusing, it could also be Emperor Reigen (霊元天皇) who asked for Kanga-an to be established to pray for Emperor Go-mizuno’o’s afterlife.
The Dining Experience at Kanga-an
As Kanga-an used to house the imperial family members, the interior is elegantly decorated with golden leaves and traditional elements, such as a Kimono belt. If you visit Kanga-an for dinner, the approach to the temple is illuminated, creating a fantastic atmosphere.
Kanga-an’s Fucha Ryōri comprises at least 10 dishes, including simmered and deep-fried dishes. Overturning the stereotype of monk cuisine, the dishes served at Kanga-an are colorful and nicely presented because they were designed based on Japanese Kaiseki Ryōri. Also, you don’t need to worry about numb legs after meals. Not only are there dining table sets, but the chairs are extremely comfortable.
At Kanga-an, you will taste the best grilled vegan eel made from tofu, seaweed, and burdock. Kurimodoki (くりもどき) is another interesting dish. While it looks like an unpeeled “chestnut”, don’t try to peel off the skin because it is entirely edible and tastes like a real chestnut!
Within the tempura plate, you will find the first deep-fried salted plum in your life. But don’t worry. The plum isn’t as salty as the ones in the supermarket. It is sweetened before being fried, giving it an incredible taste!
The most surprising fact about Kanga-an is their stylish bar lounge next to the gorgeous garden. The concept of a temple and a bar doesn’t quite go together (´▽｀*).
Tip: Kanga-an can be a really nice spot for a special event. While expensive, the lunch or dinner course is served in a private room next to Kanga-an’s illuminated dry garden.
Reservation Is Essential at Kanga-an
If you would like to enjoy Kanga-an’s Fucha Ryōri, remember to make a reservation. You can do so by the below methods:
- If you speak Japanese, you can give them a call between 11 am and 9 pm at least 3 days beforehand.
- Their phone number is +81-75-256-2480.
- You can also reserve online through myconcieragejapan.com.
Lunch is served between 12 pm and 3 pm. Dinner is served between 5 pm and 9 pm. Please ensure you arrive at least 2 hours before the closing time.
Kanga-an’s Opening Hours and Access Information
- Kanga-an is open from 1 pm to 8 pm.
- The last admission is at 7:30 pm.
- The admission cost is 500 yen. You can also pay an extra 700 yen for a bowl of matcha and a traditional sweet.
- The temple is a 3-minute walk from Kyoto Subway Karasuma Line’s (烏丸線) Kuramaguchi Station (鞍馬口駅).
- If you plan to take a bus, get off at Izumojibashi (出雲路橋). Kanga-an is then a 5-minute walk from the bus stop.
Discover Other Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto
If dining at Kanga-an is too expensive or you don’t have a few hours to spend on a lunch or dinner course, there are other vegan-friendly restaurants in Kyoto. With various options available, no matter which cuisine you crave, you can find a restaurant serving delicious vegan or vegetarian dishes that satisfy your craving!
Refer to our Guide to Kyoto’s Vegan-Friendly Restaurants for more information!