Cultural Kawabun – Exploring Japanese Culture at Nagoya’s Oldest Restaurant

ByMark Guthrie
Dec 26, 2019

Cultural Kawabun – Exploring Japanese Culture at Nagoya’s Oldest Restaurant

Japan has a rich and long artistic heritage, something that many people travel from all over the globe to see. For the most part, they go to Kyoto and Tokyo to see the best-known events, but did you know that here in Nagoya, you can get up close and personal with some of Japan’s most exceptional art forms? Not only that, but you can do it within one of our city’s oldest – and most highly regarded – restaurants: Ryotei Kawabun.

About Ryotei Kawabun

For some 400 years – since around the same time as Nagoya Castle was first built – Kawabun has been a watchword for culinary excellence. Beginning life as an upmarket fishmonger, it was recognized and patronized by the connoisseurs amongst the ruling Tokugawa Owari clan, and the family-run establishment branched out into the restaurant industry.

Today, despite being modified down the centuries, it is a living monument to the elegance and refinement of that age – as well as that of the Meiji era, to which many of the more modernized structures pay homage. It is considered one of the most exquisite examples of classic Japan in Nagoya. All of which makes it the ideal place for you to discover the wonders of Japan’s rich cultural tapestry.

Cultural Heritage Nights at Kawabun

During the economic and cultural overhaul brought about by the Kyoho Reforms (1736), Kyoto’s power waned, and Osaka fell out of fashion. Taking their place, Nagoya became a center of the arts, a bustling metropolis at the heart of an aesthetical revolution, and it this era that the Cultural Heritage Nights at Kawabun celebrate.

Between December 19, 2019, and February 21, 2020, Kawabun hosts regular events that showcase the unique art forms that Japan has to offer. Every weekday evening, you can see performances of Japanese buyo dance, classical Japanese instruments, samurai sword displays, traditional magicians, and readings of a religious sutra. The geisha and maiko [trainee geisha] who perform the dances are closely connected to the great geisha houses of Kyoto, and the other performers are of high reputation. As such, seeing them up close in this way is a real treat that you will never forget, and are unlikely to see elsewhere.

But the cultural evenings are not just about watching, but also taking part, as you have the opportunity to try on exquisite kimono or even enjoy playing ozashiki-asobi, traditional Japanese parlor games, amongst which include an old form of casino.

Getting involved

The events run Monday to Friday, beginning at 21:30 and going on until around 23:00. For your 5,000 JPY entrance fee, you get an evening of entertainment plus one drink (should you wish to enjoy more drinks they can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis). During each event, you can mingle with the performers, take photographs, and enjoy an experience that will remain with you for a lifetime.

Ryotei Kawabun Details

Where: 2-13-4 Marunouchi Naka-ku (map)
Tel: 052-222-0873

Different events are held throughout the week. If there is a particular event that you are interested in, it is suggested that you contact Kawabun to confirm the details.

Reservations are recommended, as should there not be the minimum participants, the event may be cancelled.


About the author

Mark Guthrie editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Mark whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves. Find some more of his musings at and on instagram @markguthriewrites