Mother Nature was at her best for the opening day of the “noryo yuka” season on May 1. Patrons enjoying the cool breezes along the Kamogawa river were treated to a large multicolored rainbow arcing across the horizon after a light springtime shower.
A Kyoto custom dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1867), noryo yuka (cool floor) is a wooden terrace built by restaurants along the Kamogawa river in the summertime where diners can enjoy dinner and entertainment in the cool breezes of the evening.
In Kyoto’s central area that stretches some 2.5 kilometers along the Kamogawa river from Nijo-dori street to Gojo-dori street, 87 restaurants, most specializing in Kyoto cuisine, built the wooden raised floors on the riverbank.
At restaurant Ikumatsu, geisha, as well as “maiko” apprentices, served food and drinks to 90 or so customers on the raised terrace during the opening day, while musicians playing “ohayashi,” traditional Japanese music for the festival, gave a special performance.
The restaurant offered “tanzen,” a large padded kimono, to the guests outside in the chillier than average weather, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
“I could feel the grace and elegance that are unique to Kyoto,” said Takeshi Hasegawa, 33, who lives in Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward.
Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward hosts a similar event called “kawadoko” (riverbed), where the wooden terraces are built along the Kibunegawa river, a Kamogawa river tributary that flows around Kifunejinja Shrine before feeding into the Kamogawa.
Noryo yuka and kawadoko are available in Kyoto through September.