DJ Yukari BB’s Insider Guide to Kyoto
Yukari BB, Music Selector, and Manager of Kyoto Jazzy Sport, relocated to Kyoto City seven years ago. Born and raised in Kanagawa Prefecture and spending two years in East London along the way, Yukari takes us on a tour of the city she now calls home.

Kyoto is no longer just a hub of Old Japan where people come to seek out temples and traditions, it’s an engaging hive of considered design and modernity that attracts a creative crowd. Yukari BB is amongst them. There are few people better placed to recommend somewhere to party, peruse records and please the taste buds (her husband is a chef and she, a serious foodie).

Her soulful sets stretch out through jazz, disco, and funk. They’re as effortlessly cool as her style and give you an urge to dance that’s as infectious as her smile. She’s played parties for everyone from international festivals in Hong Kong and London, to big names like Ace Hotel in Kyoto, and boutique clubs with a cult-like status like The Room in Tokyo. Here she takes us drinking, dining and dancing through the old capital.

Yukari BB on set

Tell us one common misconception about Kyoto?

Most of the stereotypical images of Kyoto are around the Gion area and the famous temple sites. People think it's a very old city, but in fact the central areas are pretty modern and urban.

Where should we go on a Sunday morning?

Ace Hotel Kyoto has started their Sunday Rose Market recently and they sell beautiful Wabara roses, from neighbouring Shiga prefecture, in the lobby. The scent and sight of all those beautiful roses makes your Sunday a little bit more special.

Your favourite tea spots in the city? And coffee?

I love KEW. Apparently the owner, a pastry chef, used to work for St. John in London. Their doughnuts are just so good! Nijo koya has a vintage speaker that they play records on everyday, it’s a very cosy atmosphere.

What’s the best market/vintage store in town?

There’s a great market on the 21st of every month at Kobosan (Toji Temple). There’s a smaller market with a more curated selection that takes place on 10th of every month at Kyoto Heian Antique Market. Both are great for finding authentic Japanese antiques and gifts.

As for stores, 70B has a selection of vintage items, mostly from England and the Netherlands. I’ve still love our bookshelf, table and chairs that I bought from here over 5 years ago. They ship in new items very often from Europe. The prices are quite reasonable and items are good quality. Brown Kyoto has vintage American stuff and I’ve bought a few amazing pieces of tableware from them.

If we want a casual food fix, where would you send us?

Korean style karubi sandwich at Teramachi Risei. Their richo interior and tableware are also stunning.

And for something a little fancier?

Taiho. Kyoto style Chinese x natural wine. They’re one of the most well-known Kyo chuka (Kyoto Chinese) style restaurants in town and they’re continually improving their menu to ensure a good match with natural wines. Or if you want something even fancier, Cenci. It’s a Kyoto style Italian x modern fusion restaurant. One of the reasons I recommend this place is because my husband works here, but, even before he started, I was a big fan of them. Their seasonal course is just amazing, and they have a great selection of natural wines. The pairing course is incredible.

Where are some good spots for a relaxed evening drink with friends?

Fukuya, it’s a Yamagata style soba izakaya in a very cool renovated townhouse, which is hard to find for the walk-in customer. It feels like a hidden, secret place.

Where would you recommend if we wanted to escape the city?

Ohara area is my favourite. Even though it isn’t technically outside of the city limits, it feels as though you’re out of the city, surrounded by nature - a great place to stroll. My favourite restaurant there is called Wappa Dou. They use only local ingredients and cook them very simply, the veggies are so juicy.

Your favourite place for breakfast?

Breakfast, I always go to Année, though by the time I arrive it's almost always lunch time. They’re one of the best bakeries in Kyoto!

And lunch?

Sushi Zen. They make chirashizushi covered with shredded omelet, it’s my favourite lunch in town. Or… Tadka for lunch is also my favourite! They serve Indian curry. There’s always a queue outside but, if you’re lucky, you can try and reserve a seat. It’s definitely worth it.

As a DJ, where would you go to party?

Metro is the one! Live music/DJs are dependent on the schedule, but Metro is one of the oldest clubs in Japan and every time time I have the chance to DJ there I feel very honoured. West Harlem also has a good line up for soul/funk/disco style DJs.

Where would you go to buy records?

Jazzy Sport Kyoto! We sell new releases, but also used Soul/Jazz/Disco vinyls. I’m always so excited to receive new stock, usually from a seller who I've known for more than a decade, the most reliable digger in Tokyo, so the stuff is always good.

What’s your Kyoto secret?

Hmmm... not really a secret but rents are much cheaper than Tokyo. I was very surprised when I moved here. I live in central Kyoto and rent is nearly half the price of my old Tokyo apartment and it’s even newer.

What would be your perfect playlist for a day of exploration in Kyoto?

I normally listen to worldwide FM, but especially a show called WWKYOTO, which I’m part of. We always focus on the theme of Kyoto

Staff Writer