Gion Izuju



Gion Izuju

Rice cooked in a wood fire and deep-fried tofu – Simple and authentic tastes of Japan

The first generation owner of Izuju trained himself as a chef in a venerable restaurant in Gion, “Izu-u” which is very famous for their saba-zushi, or sushi using mackerel.  He was allowed to become independent and opened his own restaurant in the last year of the Meiji period (1868-1912) in Makuzugahara at the foot of the Higashiyama mountain ridge.  Later, in 1948, the restaurant was moved to its present location by the stone stairs of Yasaka Jinja Shrine.  Their never-changing taste of mackerel sushi and steamed sushi are truly representative of Kyoto-style sushi.  Even today, the rice for the sushi is cooked in a traditional hearth using a wood fire along with other favorites like deep-fried tofu for inari-zushi (a piece of sushi wrapped with a sheet of deep-fried tofu) and the toppings for steamed sushi.  Their inari-zushi is one of “Kyotoites” favorites, especially when people are in the locality of Yasaka Jinja Shrine (also called Gion-san by locals).  A small size sushi is perfect company for a light snack between stages in the kabuki performance and on general occasions.  Inari-zushi is a typical sushi available everywhere in Japan, but Izuju’s are uniquely different; the deep-fried tofu is simmered thoroughly in a sweetened soy sauce-based broth and the prepared ingredients are mixed in the vinegared rice. The refreshing aroma of yuzu citrus, texture of hempseeds and chopped burdocks – all are mixed in the rice with perfect balance, and are key to making people wish for more than one piece.  Recently, a new flavor was added to their inari-zushi: grilled and chopped green onion is added to the rice ball to provide more flavor and is now favored by both Izuju’s old and new fans.

Reported and written by Shinobu Nakai/ Photo: Yasuo Kubota
Translation to English by AD BRAIN INC. Introduced in “Go and enjoy Kyoto and Sakura!” magazine, Fujin-gaho, March issue, 2015 and in “Kyoto Aji Miyage” magazine, Fujin-gaho, July issue, 2011


Name Gion Izuju
Address Gion Ishidan-shita, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Tel 075-561-0019
Hours 10:00-19:00
Closed Wed. (open if Wed. is a national holiday)
URL http://www.kyoto-wel.com/shop/S81113/
Recommended Inari Sushi is not avaiable during summer time (late June to late Sept.).