Kyoto after dark: Kamogawa and Ponto-cho

We dropped off our luggage at our Kyoto hotel , had some coffee to wake us up a bit  and went out to explore Kyoto before grabbing dinner. We made our way to the famous  Kamo River or Kamogawa where ‘gawa’ means river. It was very busy with tourists and students from local universities. It was late April so along the river you could see patios being put up by local restaurants running along the banks. The city allows them to erect these patios from May to September to let patrons enjoy outdoor dining during thesummer season.

Pontocho restaurant  patio being built

The alley running parallel to the river lined with restaurants is called the Ponto-cho. It’s famous for the many dining options packed along this narrow alley and the patio dining called Kawayuka during summer that some are able to offer.

I was getting hungry but this area had higher prices mainly due to the location so we decided to dine a little bit later . I didn’t mind though as there was so much to see and do.

It was dark as we made our way down from the Ponto-cho alley towards the bank of the Kamo River when my wife explained to me what I was about to see. There on the river bank along the long stretch covering it we saw couples sitting in the dark . Nothing unusual about that. Except for the fact that throughout this very long stretch of the river bank ,each couple  had what can be clearly observed as exactly the same distance from the couple before and the couple after them .It’s obviously an unwritten rule here. The distance is about 2 car lengths  in between each pair. No one dared sit in between  . I guess these are  Japanese people being polite and respecting each others’ privacy. I tried to take a picture but it was too dark .

Couples lining the Kamogawa river bank

I wanted to see if we could join in on this tradition of sort and find our own spot  but there was none left . Anyway,  I remembered I  was hungry already and my wife told me we were having  sukiyaki. Needless to say  I made sure we made our way to this sukiyaki place right away.

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