Tonkatsu Shimizu, Kyoto's Rakugaki Bar Scrawl your highs and woes all over the walls then drown them in pork and alcohol

    There is a bar in Kyoto called "Tonkatsu Shimizu". Tonkatsu is a breaded and deliciously deep fried pork cutlet and 'Shimizu' translates to 'pure water'. Now, it may sound like this bar serves up tall glasses of pork juice, but it's actually a bar with an owner named Mr. Shimizu.

    frosted glass window with doodle drawn on front

    You'll find this cute little picture on the door, which is their mascot. It was drawn by the owner's wife, Mrs. Shimizu.

    bar and barstools

    When you first enter, you'll see the bar. I came here right before the place opened, so I was the first customer of the day. It's usually full of people.

    scribbles and doodles from customers on the wall

    What makes this bar unique is this rakugaki (scribbling) wall. Customers can write or draw whatever they want. It's a delightful sort of chaos.

    example of doodles

    Some of them are notes and quotes. This one says, "Get married due to lack of judgment, get divorced due to lack of patience, get re-married due to lack of memory." This formula was written by a lawyer.

    writing on the wall from customers

    Some of them are cries from the depths of the soul. This person laments, "No gambling, no life!"

    writing and stickers on bar wall

    Some of them can be a bit weird. This one says, "My Goal: to be a male porno star! – Spring 2013". It's good to know there are still people in this world that dream big!

    message from famous patron on back of door

    Sometimes you'll find something written by famous people. For example, here is a message saying "Yummy! Thanks!" from Shokei Matsui. He's also known by his Korean name, Moond Jang Gyu. He is a master of Kyokushin Karate and is currently a director of one of the International Karate Organizations founded by Mas Oyama.

    chef preparing tonkatsu

    Although this is a bar, and tonkatsu is less important than alcohol, you'll want to order their special tonkatsu on your first visit. I strongly recommend ordering it as soon as you arrive. The tonkatsu is so thick that it takes quite a while for it to cook through. They have two kinds: roosu ロース, which means pork loin, and ヘレ (here), which means pork medallion. They also have a chickenkatsu.

    I ordered pork loin. I really, really love his tonkatsu because it's tasty and filling. The photo above may not give you a good idea of how voluminous this tonkatu really is, so check out the next one.

    Japanese pork loin sandwich cut in segments

    I asked him to make me a sandwich with his special tonkatsu. This photo really shows you how thick each piece is. Other menu items are really good, too. The dashimaki-tamago, which is a Japanese omelette, is a mild and delicious taste of home.

    Japanese omelette and hand cooker

    This roasted pork, bamboo shoot, and hardboiled egg dish paired perfectly with my drink.

    bottles and jars on counter

    Speaking of alcohol, don't forget this is a bar. There is a wide variety of alcohol to choose from. From cocktails to Japanese sake to shochu. Mr. Shimizu actually takes it upon himself to infuse flavor into some of bottles to better suit the drinks he intends to make. They are all very tasty.

    bar proprietor holding large bottle

    Here is Mr. Shimizu holding Kagura 神蔵, which is a raw, non-filtered, unprocessed sake. He poured it into the green glass.

    mixed drinks poured out of jar through strainer

    This was liquor flavored with black beans.

    mixed drinks in glasses

    I think the darker one was coffee flavored liquor, but I'm not sure. I'm sorry, I'm not going to lie and say I stayed completely sober throughout my visit. My memory starts to get a little foggy after round one. Anyhow, they have a variety of liquors with interesting, homemade flavors.

    tofugu doodle on wall

    Finally, I drew this Tofugu doodle on the wall. So if you go there, please look for it. Perhaps our great illustrator, Aya, could touch it up a little for me if she ever visits Tonkatu Shimizu :P

    Tonkatsu Shimizu

    Pros

    • Not many places allow you to draw whatever you want on their walls
    • And not many places have such thick tonkatsu!
    • Mr. Shimizu is really friendly and so are his customers
    • Everyone chats to one another making it easy to become fast friends while sharing a drink
    • Less than a 10-minute walk from Keihan Line JinguMarutamachi station

    Cons

    • Not for vegetarians or non-alcohol drinkers

    Overall Rating

    9

    Accessibility Rating

    7

    Fun Rating

    10

    Uniqueness Rating

    7

    Additional Information

    248-5 Kamiikesuchou, Kamigyo-ku
    Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0855
    Japan

    View on map

    +81 80-3786-5425