Gion Nishikawa main image


Gion Nishikawa


With a chef who embodies the service spirit, putting guests’ comfort first in a setting of beautiful teahouse architecture and wowing them with delicious cuisine, Gion Nishikawa offers an exquisite Kyoto dining experience. He has a generous, friendly style, speaking effortlessly with Japanese and foreign guests in conversations peppered with jokes, making the very experience of being in this space a pleasure.

Gion Nishikawa is located near Yasaka Shrine and Kodaiji Temple along the picturesque Shimokawara-dori of Kyoto. Through a latticework door and down a cobblestone alley, you will find yourself standing before a Japanese-style building of sukiya teahouse architecture with a miniature garden. Touches of Kyoto sophistication are all around, from the Hinoki cypress single-plank counter to the wicker ceiling. A team of chefs busy themselves behind the counter, and beyond is a kitchen complete with a kamado traditional Japanese stove. There, clay pots bubble and steam, and ingredients roasted over charcoals give off incredible aromas, beckoning you into the world of Gion Nishikawa cuisine.



Wow connoisseurs from Japan and overseas

The chef creates kaiseki cuisine in a monthly changing menu using 70 or more ingredients to wow connoisseurs from Japan and overseas. His dishes are based on Japanese cuisine fundamentals – the sweetness of white miso, the acidity of vinegar, salt and soy sauce, sake, and the umami of kombu. A thorough examination of their flavors is the key to the deliciousness of Nishikawa’s cuisine. He treasures the farmers and producers who supply his restaurant and endeavors to reflect their voices in his cuisine. He describes his work as maximizing the unique character of each ingredient in an exquisitely balanced course, in keeping with an old Japanese saying ishoku dogen, which recognizes healthy food as the wellspring for preventing and curing sickness.

The degustation course changes monthly and typically features ten dishes, from appetizer, sashimi and soup, to the elaborate hassun seasonal platter, grilled dish, simmered dish and rice, before finishing with fresh fruit and wagashi traditional Japanese sweets. The cuisine is filled with fish, shellfish and vegetables, and always one meat dish like exquisite roast beef. The chef conveys a rich sense of season not only through ingredients but in the tableware, plating and garnishes, too.

Hamo pike conger and matsutake mushrooms combine in a richly aromatic soup dish. In a dish of bright and captivating colors, Awaji pike conger and the heady aromas of domestic matsutake are served with micro tomatoes and kinome – the young leaves of a sansho Japanese pepper plant. The specially made Kyoto lacquerware bowls are finished with the rarer white lacquer sprinkled with metallic powder. A delectable appetizer features Hokkaido sea urchin and onion and the flavor, with the sweetness of both amplified by the harmonious combination. The dish is topped with a gelée of savory kombu dashi and pretty purple shiso flowers.

The hassun course in kaiseki cuisine lets a chef showcase their skillful techniques and a cornucopia of seasonal delicacies from the land and sea. Chef Nishikawa’s late summer creation contains winter melon with blue crab, mackerel sushi, red Manganji chili peppers dressed in a seasoning of dried small sardines and sansho Japanese pepper, jade ginkgo nuts, bachiko sea cucumber ovary, and still more tasty bites. The warming, belly-filling rice dish is freshly cooked in a clay pot made by Shiga Prefecture artisan Isshiro Nakagawa. The chef first serves a mouthful of the rice to guests called niebana – its moisture-rich, sweet, al dente texture and flavor representing the precise moment rice transforms from the grain into its cooked form. After meditating over that tasty first bite, guests are treated to a full bowl of rice topped with karasumi – deliciously salty, thickly shaved dried mullet roe.

While Chef Nishikawa certainly uses Kyoto vegetables and tofu, he does not limit himself to local ingredients, taking shipments of products from around the country. They all arrive here as the result of his personal search for safe and delicious ingredients, including kombu, sea urchin and crab from Hokkaido, and specialties like dried mullet roe from Nagasaki. He has met every producer, farmer and fisherman whose products come through his doors; he has spoken with them at length and personally experienced the wonders of each product. He spends a lot of time contemplating sustainability and is filled with gratitude when he meets the producers because the interactions and new discoveries are always incredibly fulfilling.

Guests can choose from a selection of beer, sake, wine, shochu, whisky and other alcohol varieties that complement the Gion Nishikawa cuisine. And they can enjoy their libation by the glass or partake in wine and sake pairing courses.

Gion Nishikawa cuisine #0
Gion Nishikawa cuisine #1


Masayoshi Nishikawa

Masayoshi Nishikawa was born in 1975 and raised in the Muromachi garment district of Kyoto. His grandfather was a yuzen dyeing artist, so he was exposed to Kyoto culture and enjoyed visits to restaurants and museums from an early age. Nishikawa graduated from high school and played in a corporate baseball league before beginning training at a restaurant of Japanese cuisine. Aged 25, he knocked on the door of Gion Sasaki, his nerves a reflection of his admiration for the chef, and joined the team. Then, after time as head chef of the ryotei Warabi no Sato, Nishikawa opened Gion Nishikawa in 2008 at the age of 33. The restaurant received a total makeover in 2012, transforming into the traditional Japanese teahouse style guests enjoy today, complete with private rooms and a garden.

While the chef does not personally remember this episode, apparently, as a child, he once said that when he grew up, he wanted to make the kind of food that made his beloved grandfather happy. His wish came true, and far beyond pleasing one man, his Kyoto restaurant of 15 years is enduringly popular, even earning two Michelin stars. Always seeking efficiency in his work, Nishikawa took time during the pandemic to sort and store every item of tableware and glassware presented to guests by season, facilitating the task of finding and retrieving them for every staff member. On days off, he visits farmers and producers all over Japan. He used to engage in hobbies and sports regularly, but his greatest joy these days is discovering new things. He says much is to be learned from the people and produce he encounters.

In addition to perfecting his restaurant cuisine, Nishikawa hopes to revamp his online shop, enabling guests to enjoy the flavors of Gion Nishikawa at home. One idea is to sell frozen dashi made with water from Hokkaido, which is softer than Kyoto water. Guests could use it to make hot pots and soup dishes at home that taste like they are from a gourmet restaurant. This dashi could be the base for a somen noodle and dipping sauce set only available online. It would feature somen noodles formulated by the chef and made in Awajishima after extensive taste-testing of a range of noodles and deep study into wheat flour and noodle production methods.

Nishikawa also wishes to lend his hand in developing Kyoto’s tourism industry through events and dinners organized by the national tourism agency and other bodies.


According to Nishikawa, Kombu is the true essence of flavor in Japanese cuisine. The primary dashi used in soup dishes at Gion Nishikawa is extracted from wild Hokkaido makombu kelp (Laminaria japonica), known for its rich sweetness. Many Kyoto restaurants use Rishiri kombu from the far northwestern tip of the north island. Nishikawa wants guests to experience the difference in flavor, so he prepares a small taste of both during the meal.

Unfortunately, stocks of wild makombu are declining year by year. Nishikawa visits the producers to hear how he can secure a stable supply of the wild kombu going forward and to listen to their concerns about the possibility it may one day disappear. He talks to the people it affects most because he cares about their future. So important is kombu to Chef Nishikawa that the restaurant is adorned with kombu boxes marked with the variety and production area.


Lunh (12PM)
Gion Nishikawa lunch only course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
Reservation Request
Lunch/ Dinner (6:30PM only)
Gion Nishikawa full omakase course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
Reservation Request


Gion Nishikawa


& UP
Kaiseki, Gion
1F, 〒605-0825 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Shimokawaracho, 473
Lunch:12M, Dinner: 6:30PM


  • ×