Page Top

from Executive Chef Tokuoka Kunio

KYOTO KITCHO takes as its mission “the creation through Japanese cuisine of Japanese culture needed by people the world over, now and in the future.”

Kitcho was founded in 1930 by my grandfather, Yuki Teiichi. His successor--my father, Tokuoka Koji--and Founder Teiichi together built up Kyoto Kitcho, with headquarters in Arashiyama, to its present style as a luxury restaurant specializing in Japanese haute cuisine.

I became the executive chef in 1995, right in the midst of the bursting of Japan’s economic bubble. Kyoto Kitcho was in a managerial crisis, and I racked my brains trying to think how to extend and develop the Kyoto Kitcho brand. I worked hard to implement internal reforms. As people are the essence of what we do, in order to enhance our customers’ experience I changed the old, heavily hierarchical system in favor of an environment where communication could easily take place, and I also did a thorough review of employee training and recruitment. Furthermore, observing how society’s changing values were causing the decline of primary industry, I began to pay attention to overseas markets and the issue of Japan’s declining birthrate.

Around the year 2000, I entered more into the media spotlight, and a rise in foreign visitors led to requests for me to participate in events overseas. and brought me more into the media spotlight. Deepening contacts with foreign cultures gradually affected the content of my cooking and also led me to expand the variety of drinks on the menu.

Around 2006, my thoughts turned again to overseas customers' needs. While valuing new techniques and approaches that grew out of the resulting adaptations, I came to think it was more important to have customers enjoy our native cuisine as a doorway to Japanese culture and the Japanese worldview. Thus, I promoted “transmitting our culture” as the mission of Kyoto Kitcho around that time. Judging "umami" or savoriness to be the primary attraction of Japanese cuisine, I devoted myself to a study of traditional cooking techniques and explored the essence of traditional flavor, seeking actively to revive old ways.

Experience taught me that Japanese culture does have a useful role to play in the world, but I also learned that if we simply transmit our culture as it is, while that may be of some use in the short term, in a different environment culture may once again cease to be needed. Simply sharing techniques and ideas does not constitute actual transmission of a centuries-old culture anyway. I realized that sharing culture with Japan and abroad requires adaptation to new regions and generations—that in short, we must create Japanese culture anew.

Presently I believe our mission at Kyoto Kitcho to be the continual recreation of Japanese culture for the sake of humanity. While forging new relationships with a broad swath of companies and organizations such as administrations, educational corporations, medical services, and manufacturers, I have begun coming to grips with the challenge of creating culture to benefit humankind. When I have concrete developments to announce, I will do so here and in all available quarters.

The year 2020 will mark 90 years since Kitcho’s founding. While cherishing the trust we have built up over the decades, as well as our expertise, our spirit of hospitality, and our ties to our community and clientele, I am committed to redoubling my efforts to contribute to the transmission and creation of Japanese culture in the years ahead.

I ask for your continued guidance, encouragement, love, and support.

Tokuoka Kunio

Tokuoka Kunio
KYOTO KITCHO Executive Chef

Born in 1960, the grandson of Kitcho founder Yuki Teiichi.
In 1980 he began training in earnest to be a chef, learning the fundamentals of cooking from Teiichi. In 1995 he became executive chef, and in 2009 managing director of KYOTO KITCHO Co., Ltd.
Starting in 2004, he began participating in culinary events overseas.
In 2008 he catered the social dinner for the G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido.
Domestically, he is involved in the search for solutions to various issues relating to regional vitalization and primary industry in Japan, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. He is a visiting professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and honorary director of the Society of Industry, Culture, and Science.
While honoring tradition, Tokuoka Kunio is constantly devising new, multifaceted approaches to food culture and is committed to spreading his knowledge and love of Japanese cuisine through innovative methods and suggestions.


2004 Participated in Salone del Gusto, a festival of food organized by Slow Food Association Italy (also 2006)
2005 Participated in "Madrid Fusion"
2007 Participated in THE RISE OF ASIA food conference organized by CIA, California, USA (also 2008)
2008 First Japanese chef to be selected for a James Beard Award (James Beard Foundation)
Executive Chef, G8 Summit Social Dinner, Lake Toya, Hokkaido
2009 Became President and CEO of KYOTO KITCHO Co., Ltd.
Japan Representative at Tokyo Taste World Gastronomy Summit 2009
Joined Kyotango City's board of expert advisors (committee for policy and planning)
Participated in the "Umami Summit in London"
KYOTO KITCHO Arashiyama awarded 3 stars in the Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka, HANA‐Kitcho awarded 1 star
(both maintained for 12 consecutive years)
2010 Participated in the World of Flavor Conference & Festival organized by CIA, California, USA
Appointed as Yamagata Special Sightseeing Ambassador for Tsuya-hime
2012 KYOTO KITCHO Toyako awarded 2 stars in the Michelin Guide Hokkaido Special Edition (awarded again in 2017)
2013 Participated in the World of Flavor Conference 2013 organized by CIA, California, USA
2015 Participated in Milan, Italy World Expo
Gave a special speech in Italy at the request of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Appointed as Honorary Chairman of the Society of Industry, Culture, and Science
2016 Decorated as an Officier in the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne at the 7th Investiture Ceremony
Appointed as Associate Professor of Tokyo University of Agriculture
Appointed as International Ambassador for Mie Prefecture Foods
2019 KYOTO KITCHO Nagoya awarded 1 star in the Michelin Guide Aichi Gifu Mie Special Edition


2007 "Haru no shokutaku (Spring Table)", "Natsu no shokutaku (Summer Table)",
"Aki no shokutaku (Autumn Table)", "Fuyu no shokutaku (Winter Table)" - all published by Basilico
2009 "Arashiyama Kitcho: Danshi no daidokoro (Arashiyama Kitcho: A Man's Kitchen)" - Basilico
"Oishii yasai no miwakekata (How to Choose Delicious Vegetables)" - Basilico
* Co-authored with leading sustainable agriculture expert Kazuo Nishimura
2010 "Kitcho: Japan's Ultimate Dining Experience" - Kodansha International
"Beauties of Nature in Cuisine" - Gakuseisha
"Kyoto Kitcho shigoto no saho (Kyoto Kitcho: Work Etiquette)" - PHP Institute, Inc.
"Sake no tsumami (Snacks for Sake)" - Bungeishunju Ltd.
"Bunkoban shiki no shokutaku (A Table for Four Seasons paperback edition)" - Bungeishunju Ltd.
2013 "Walking in the Footsteps of Teiichi Yuki, Founder of Kitcho who Staked his Life on Japanese Cuisine and Tea Ceremony : What the Grandson Kunio Tokuoka Has Learned" - Tankosha Publishing

* Publication titles listed here may differ from official titles.