Noryo-yuka are platforms or terraces raised above river banks for enjoying the cool air, and the Kamo River noryo-yuka announce the arrival of the summer season. Wind blows along the river’s surface as the sky turns to dusk. This summer event has been enjoyed by people for centuries. What would it be like if you could have it all to yourself even for just one night? The river terrace constructed at Villa Pontocho is a space for just one party staying during this period. The sense of freedom offered by really experiencing summer in Kyoto, and a sense of privacy that is perfect for a couple, will combine to make your stay here a special, memorable experience.
From May through September, nearly 100 eating and drinking establishments from Nijo to Gojo in Kiya-machi all set up noryo-yuka, which are raised platforms or terraces, above the Misosogi River bank for enjoying the cool air. In a history that spans several centuries, the Kamo River noryo-yuka have undergone numerous transformations, but they remain to this day as a refined element of Kyoto’s traditional culture. To preserve the view, visitors are asked to refrain from wearing clothing that exposes the bare skin excessively, or using blankets, parasols, or computers, but observing these guidelines means that you can have that much more fun eating in a natural setting in the cool breeze of the river.
The history of noryo-yuka goes back to the early modern ages. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan after a period of civil war, rebuilt the Sanjo and Gojo bridges across the Kamo River. It is said that from around this time, people began to gather on the riverbanks to put on shows and sell things, and eventually, wealthy merchants began to erect seating along the banks to entertain their guests.
In the Edo period, it became increasingly popular to set out stools on the sandbanks. When stone walls and embankments were constructed along the Kamo River and Hanamachi (geisha districts) began to develop in the area, teahouses on both banks of the river started to set up protruding terraces. Called “getting cool at the river bank,” this practice took root as an annual summer tradition.
From the Meiji to the Taisho eras, canals were dug out along the Kamo River, and the Keihan train line was extended, resulting in noryo-yuka disappearing from the left bank of the river. Furthermore, in the Taisho era, flood control works were built, and as a consequence, protruding noryo-yuka became prohibited altogether. Although the Misosogi River was later dug out on the right bank of the Kamo River, the lights of noryo-yuka were extinguished due to war.
After the war, a set of “Noryo-yuka Authorization Standards” were drafted, and raised-terrace noryo-yuka reappeared on the right bank. In recent years, new types of establishments such as bars and cafes have joined the teahouses, and in accordance with the “Regulations for the Installation of Noryo-yuka” laid out by the Kyoto Kamogawa Noryo-yuka Association, the tradition of noryo-yuka is being passed to future generations.
With this plan, guests can have seasonal catered dishes delivered to their rooms. We recommend you try the culinary traditions of Kyoto in a style much like how teahouses provide their guests with catered meals. For dinner, we deliver two-layered catered bento consisting of hassun (combinations of different dishes) and sashimi. In the morning, we deliver box-type breakfasts centered on sandwiches. If you would like to make special arrangements, such as specific delivery times or special items for anniversaries and such, please ask us ahead of time.
The summer tradition of Kamo River noryo-yuka. This is the limited-time-only plan if you wish to have a river terrace like those all to yourself, and is available from May 1st through September 30th. In Pontocho, which is lined with restaurants in bars, our hotel is the only place that offers guests a stay with their own river terrace (current as of January 2019). Please enjoy this exclusive and private way to take in the view of Mt. Higashiyama and the elegant, cool evenings unique to Kyoto on a terrace that juts from your room.