Souvenir Shopping Part 1, Kyoto (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Kyoto without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Kyoto, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Part 1 Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping Part 1
Guide Location: Japan » Kyoto (See other walking tours in Kyoto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 km
Author: Daniel
Kyoto Handicraft Center

1) Kyoto Handicraft Center

What to buy here: Geta (Japanese clogs ) | Kimekomi dolls | Kyo Sensu (Folding Fan) | Kyo Yaki and Kyomizu Yaki | Kyo-shikki (Kyoto lacquerware) | Kyoto Damascene jewelry | Kyoto Handmade Washi Paper | Nishijin Traditional Textiles | Ukiyo-e.

Kyo Yaki and Kyomizu Yaki. The pottery/porcelain made in Kyoto is called Kyo Yaki and Kyomizu Yaki. The origins of Kyoto pottery can be traced to the 5th century in the area around Kyomizu-dera temple in the Higashiyama hills in the eastern part of Kyoto. In the Muromachi Period (in the 14th century) a new technology was imported from China and colors were added to the pottery. A few years later overglazing techniques were introduced. In the late Edo Period potters shifted from earthenware to Chinese-style porcelain.

Nowadays Kyoto pottery can be found in a wide variety of tableware, tea utensils, and ornamental objects that come in elegant shapes, graceful design, and pure, intense colors. A good place to buy Kyo Yaki and Kyomizu Yaki is the Kyoto Handicraft Center located in 21 Entomi-cho Shogo-in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. All kinds of traditional handicrafts can be found here and more, everything you buy there is duty-free. The Center is open from 10:00 to 19:00.

2) Ippodo

What to buy here: Uji-cha.

Uji-cha is a rich and aromatic loose green tea originating from Uji, a city on the southern outskirts of Kyoto. It is said that the history of tea in Japan began with master Zen Eisai who brought tea seeds to Kyoto from a trip to China. He shared some of the seeds he brought with the High Priest Myoe of Kozanji Temple at Toganoo. It was Myoe who chose Uji to grow tea trees and manufacture tea. After several innovations in the production of Uji-cha it became nationwide known and Uji became the most important region of green tea manufacture.

Some of the best Uji-cha in Kyoto is sold at Ippodo. The shop owners encourage customers to taste the tea before buying it. They can do so at the Kaboku Tearoom, which belongs to the shop. Here one can find the highest class of Uji-cha such as Matcha and Gyokuro. The shop is open from 9:00 to 19:00 from Monday to Saturday and from 9:00 to 18:00 on Sundays and holidays. The Tearoom is open daily from 9:00 to 18:00.

3) Zohiko

What to buy here: Kyo-shikki (Kyoto lacquerware).

Shikki (lacquerware) is a hallmark craft of Japan. Lacquerware has been an art for Japanese tableware for a very long time. Nowadays it is no longer used for the household and it is more of a luxury item. Kyoto lacquerware is known as Kyo-shikki and its history is closely related to the tea ceremonies. Kyoto is recognized as the center of the lacquer industry, because Kyo-shikki has a high quality and is elegant, sophisticated in design and simply beautiful. There is a wide variety of boxes and dining ware as well as decorations made from lacquer.

Zohiko deals with Kyo-shikki for over 300 years, in the 18th century the president of the company was given the title of “special artist of gold decoration” by the emperor. The store is located at 10 Okazaki Saishojicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto and has a wide selection of fine kyo-shikki. Prices for Kyo-shikki are between ¥1000 ($12) and ¥40000 ($490).
Opening hours: Thursday-Tuesday: 10am to 6pm

4) Rokkaku

What to buy here: Kyoto Handmade Washi Paper.

Washi is one of the finest papers in the world in terms of quality and durability - for more than 1,000 years. Washi paper is made with fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry. It may also be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. Washi is made in a similar way to that of ordinary paper, but the process involves less chemicals. The Japanese used and still use washi for all kinds of things: window, door and lantern coverings, wrapping paper to keep kimono dry, candy wrappers, writing paper, art work, and money.

Washi paper and articles made of it can be bought at Rokkaku where you can find a very colorful and graphic range of paper items. Here you will be able to get personalized stationery and various pretty paper products. Rokkaku is located at 109 Rokkaku-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto.

The prices for objects made of washi paper start with ¥315 ($4).
Kyoto International Manga Museum Shop

5) Kyoto International Manga Museum Shop

What to buy here: Manga is the Japanese word for comics and print cartoons. In the West the term manga refers to Japanese comics created by Japanese artists in the Japanese language according to the style developped in the late 19th century. Modern manga appeared shortly after World War II and has been increasingly popular both in Japan and the rest of the world. Manga include a broad range of genres from historical dramas to business and commerce. There are millions of manga fans all over the world. Manga have become so popular that there's even a Faculty of Manga in Kyoto.

The Kyoto International Manga Museum is equal to heaven for manga aficionados. The museum was open in the former building of a primary school. The museum has the largest collection of Japanese and some non-Japanese manga. The main feature of the museum is the Wall of Manga which is actually composed of several walls on two floors. It contains thousands of manga books that can be read for free. At the entrance of the museum there is a gift shop packed with collections of manga books and books about manga. The admission fee is ¥800 (around $10). The museum's address is Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto. It is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00 except on Wednesdays. Manga books cost from ¥150 ($2) to ¥600 ($8)
Shoyeido Main Store

6) Shoyeido Main Store

What to buy here: Shoyeido incense.

According to the legend, about 1400 years ago a piece of fragrant wood drifted ashore the Japanese island of Awaji. The locals realized the unique fragrance coming from the wood and made it a present to empress Suiko. This is how the history of fragrance making began. The first incense available to the masses was made in the early 18th century by Rokubei Moritsune Hata. Twelve generations later the incense produced by Shoyeido is considered the most natural in the world and is preferred by most temples in Japan. The unique blends made by Shoyeido are the modern natural solution to create a fragrant natural atmosphere in homes and not only. In imperial Kyoto if you were from the privileged classes your scent was as much your trademark as your garments. Nowadays there are many different aromas of Shoyeido incense that come in different forms.

You can find Shoeido incense at the company's main store in the center of Kyoto at Karasuma Nijo Nakagyo-ku. Besides browsing their considerable array of incense and related items you can also experience an incense ceremony. The store is open on weekdays from 9:00 to 19:00 (18:00 on Saturdays and 17:00 on Sundays). You can also visit their Sanneizaka store located on Kiyomizu street. Shoyeido incense prices are from $3 and up.
Nishijin Textile Center

7) Nishijin Textile Center

What to buy here: Nishijin Traditional Textiles.

Nishijin weaving was created approximately 1200 years ago in Kyoto. After Kyoto became the capital in 794 productivity of Nishijin increased in order to provide the Imperial court and aristocracy with the needed materials. Then the need for materials began to decrease reducing productivity. In the Muromachi Period production of Nishijin textiles was at a minimum due to war and the demolition of almost the entire city of Kyoto. After the war production increased again, now the weavers provided materials to both the Imperial court and the samurai lords. In the 19th century, because of unproductive crops and the change of capital to Tokyo there was a sudden stop in Nishijin trade, but thanks to new technology it is now once again florishing. Nowadays there are many types of articles produced through Nishijin weaving such as kimono, kimono sashes, ties, belts, woven small goods, items for decorating the home and many different types of cloths.

You can find out more about Nishijin Traditional Textiles from the Nishijin Textile Center located in Horikawa-Imadegawa Minami-iru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto. Also there you can see weaving demonstrations and certainly purchase items. There you may try on the ceremonial kimonos once worn by court ladies and have your picture taken. The Center is open from 9:00 to 17:00.

8) Hiyoshiya

What to buy here: Kyo Wagasa (Traditional Kyoto umbrellas).

Wagasa (Japanese umbrellas) were first introduced to Japan from China at the beginning of the Heian period. Then they were quite different from the ones from today and looked more like a straw hat and cape and were used to protect against the sunlight and evil spirits. The early Wagasa could not be folded. By the second half of the 14th century Japanese umbrellas had changed their appearance up to the way they look like nowadays. Made of washi paper Kyoto umbrellas are simple and delicately beautiful. They have been a fashion accessory for a very long time so besides protecting from sun and rain they had to be attractive and stylish. They have also become essential accessories for ceremonies and traditions. In the old imperial capital Kyo Wagasa were part of daily life, nowadays however people prefer the cheaper Western umbrellas and the need for Japanese umbrellas has decreased dramatically. There are only a few shops selling traditional Japanese umbrellas that are still operating.

In Kyoto the only shop dealing in Kyo Wagasa is Hiyoshiya. The shop has been in business for over 100 years. They manufacture and sell all kinds of Japanese umbrellas. The shop is located at 546 Dodo-cho, Horikawa, Higashiiru, Teranouchi, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto. It is open Monday through Friday: 10am until 5pm.

Walking Tours in Kyoto, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Creating your own self-guided walk in Kyoto is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Philosopher's Path Area Walk

Philosopher's Path Area Walk

Tetsugaku no Michi, or Philosopher's Walk, is a well-known route in Kyoto which starts at the famous Ginkaku-ji Temple and heads south to the Nanzen-ji Temple. It follows a stone path by a cherry-tree-lined canal that was once walked daily by Nishida Kitaro, a famous philosopher and professor at Kyoto University. The Philosopher's Walk passes by some major shrines and other places of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Walking Tour in Shimogyo Ward

Walking Tour in Shimogyo Ward

The ancient capital Kyoto embraces several aspects of Japanese culture, being packed with shrines, temples, museums and other interesting spots. Each ward of this city boasts its own cultural heritage, as does the Shimogyo area, located right in the heart of Kyoto. Discover Shimogyo's most popular attractions in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Kyoto without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Kyoto, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Higashiyama Area Walking Tour

Higashiyama Area Walking Tour

Kyoto is a city made for tourists, especially the ones with love for history, interest in religion and, of course, Japanese culture. Many of Kyoto's attractions are located in the eastern part of the city, which, in turn, is split into wards. One of them is the Higashiyama Ward, home to several famous temples of Kyoto, as well as the popular Gion geisha district. To find out more about...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Central Kyoto Walking Tour

Central Kyoto Walking Tour

They say visiting Japan without seeing Kyoto is worthless, because a visit to Japan will never be complete without knowing Kyoto's treasures. A city of tradition, history, and culture, Kyoto has plenty of touristic spots to offer. The next walking tour takes you to the core of Kyoto and the main attractions of the city that are located in its central area. Enjoy!

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.5 km
Kita-ku Temples and Shrines Tour

Kita-ku Temples and Shrines Tour

Kita-ku is one of Kyoto's wards, located in the northern part of the city. Kita Ward contains some spectacular religious sites, such as the famous Golden Pavilion and the ancient Daitoku-ji Temple, as well as a museum dedicated to world peace. Find them all selected and described in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

18 Japanese Products To Bring Home from Kyoto

18 Japanese Products To Bring Home from Kyoto

The old capital of Japan, the city of Kyoto has once again been the talk of the world lately, thanks to the bestselling "Memoirs of a Geisha" book and the namesake Hollywood blockbuster movie. Renowned for its impeccable craftsmanship, Japan has so much to amaze a foreign eye with. Many of...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Kyoto for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Kyoto has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Kyoto's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass or Kyoto Subway & Bus Pass and Hankyū Tourist Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Kyoto's (and even neighboring Osaka's) top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows user to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Kyoto hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo, Karaksa Hotel Kyoto I, Nagi Kyoto Shijo.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Kyoto, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Kyoto typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$120 or more per person:

- Pedal your way around Kyoto on a 3-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about this glorious city from an informative group leader.

- Brace yourself for a full-day of walking to discover Imperial Kyoto in its full splendor on a 9-hour sightseeing tour exploring the city's temples, palaces and ancient shrines. This tour is ideal for those on a short visit to Kyoto, keen on seeing as much of its rich cultural heritage as possible in a single go.

- Another good chance to absorb Kyoto's atmosphere within a shortest possible time is a half-day guided tour embracing all of the city’s top highlights: UNESCO-listed castle, temples and Imperial Palace sights.

- Discover what makes Japanese culture so refined and unique on a cultural walk in Kyoto. Follow a knowledgeable local guide to savor the beauty and charm of this ancient yet elegant city wandering through its Zen gardens, visiting shrines and temples, as well as catching a glimpse of its kimono-clad geishas and more.

- Acquaint yourself with Kyoto’s food culture, its history and taste, at a 400-year-old “Kyoto's Kitchen” market fit to agitate anyone's taste buds with the plethora of unique dishes on offer. Explore the surroundings, including the famous Gion district, for a chance of spotting real-life geishas and other local peculiarities!

- Attend a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto to perceive its sophisticated philosophy with the help of a local guide who will translate your questions, if any, addressed to the master about this fascinating part of Japanese culture.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Kyoto, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Hiroshima and Miyajima Island, Nara, Himeji Castle and Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, or northern Kyoto prefecture. For as little as as circa US$70+ to US$350+ per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, see majestic shrines, including some of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, celebrated memorials, prominent parks and other historic treasures. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Kyoto, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, train, boat, or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.