Souvenir Shopping Part 2, 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 2 Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping Part 2
Guide Location: Japan » Kyoto (See other walking tours in Kyoto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Author: Daniel
Kyoto Craft Mart

1) Kyoto Craft Mart

What to buy here: Kyoto Damascene jewelry.

Damascene jewelry is finely handcrafted jewelry with designs composed of gold and silver embedded into base metal, like steel. Damascene-style work is believed to have been practiced by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, but it was brought to a high form of art by the craftsmen from Damascus more than 2000 years ago. From there it got carried along the Silk Road to Japan during the Nara period (710-794). Around the same time the Moors conquered Spain and brought damascene-style decoration with them. An interesting fact is that the production of damascene jewelry almost disappeared in the Middle East, nowadays most damascene jewelry articles come either from Toledo, Spain or Kyoto, Japan. In Japan damascene has been used to decorate the hilts of weapons. These decorations were very popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), but then swords were banned and the craftsmen working with damascene turned to various decorative items, including jewelry. The design motifs used in damascene jewelry made in Kyoto typically reflect traditional Japanese subject matter: cherry blossoms and other flowers such as iris, landscape scenes (often including Mt. Fuji), butterflies, and birds.

Beautiful damascene jewelry in Kyoto can be found on the first floor of the Kyoto Handicraft Center at 21 Entomi-cho Shogo-in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. Various damascene items can also be found at the Kyoto Craft Mart located on the 1st floor of the New Miyako Hotel. The address of the store is 17 Nishikujoin-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto. It is open daily from 7:00 to 23:00. The prices for damascene jewelry are from $200.
Ohnishi Tsune Shoten

2) Ohnishi Tsune Shoten

What to buy here: Kyo Sensu (Folding Fan).

The first Kyo-sensu were created more than 1000 years ago and have since been employed in a number of ways, changing to suit the times, and sought after by all manner of people. Sensu are used on formal occasions, for example, in certain ceremonies and at special events. Many visitors to Kyoto regardless of age and sex buy sensu as souvenirs. There are different types of Kyo-sensu used on different occasions such as tea ceremonies, Japanese traditional dances or simply for decoration. They are made either from thin slats of cypress wood stitched together with silk thread or from washi paper. Sensu are also very practical as an accessory and suit both Japanese and Western style of clothing. A lot of women carry sensu, not only as a means of keeping cool, but also because they add to the feminine appeal of the user.

For beautiful handmade Kyo-sensu visit Ohnishi Tsune Shoten located on Matsubara-dori five blocks away from Shijo-Karasumaru station. All their sensu have been handmade by skilled craftspeople in the back of the shop. The sensu available at this shop cannot be found anywhere else. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 until 18:00. They are closed on Sundays and National Japanese Holidays. Their sensu start with ¥2000 ($25) and the nicest ones are over ¥5000 ($62).
Shinkyogoku Shopping Street

3) Shinkyogoku Shopping Street

What to buy here: Geta (Japanese clogs ).

Geta are a form of traditional Japanese footwear that resemble both clogs and flip-flops worn with traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata. In Japan they are also worn with Western clothing during summer. Geta are made of one piece of solid wood with two wooden blocks underneath and a fabric thong. There are several styles of Geta differing in shape and design. Geta were the most used type of footwear in Japan before shoes began to be worn.

Traditional Geta can be bought from the Shinkyogoku-dori (Shingyoku Shopping Street) which extends from Sanjo-dori to Shijo-dori. Along this street there are numerous shops selling gifts, so you can also buy other items besides Geta.
Yojiya Main Store

4) Yojiya Main Store

What to buy here: Yojiya Traditional Cosmetics.

Yojiya was founded in 1904 in Kyoto. It all began with a cart from which cosmetic products were sold. Then the founder opened a stor in the center of the city and called it Kunieda-shoten. Later the store was relocated to one of the busiest quarters of the city Shinkyogoku, and the name was changed to Yojiya. This name was previously used as a nickname for the store and it derived from the toothbrushes that were sold in the store. Over the time the store became more and more popular and the business extended to several stores in Kyoto and in major airports throughout Japan. The beauty products made by Yojiya are all made of materials from Kyoto. The most popular and the top sold product from Yojiya is their Aburatorigami (oil-blotting facial paper). Aburatorigami absorbs the excess facial oil and allows a smoother application of cosmetics. Besides oil-blotting paper they also produce lipstick blotting paper, facial brushes, sponges, soaps, cleaning powders, mirrors and a lot more.

The main Yojiya store is located on Kayukoji Lane in Shinkyogoku. The store has a wide assortment of cosmetic products and was well known to people from Kyoto since its founding. The store is open year around from 11:00 to 19:00. Another nice store is located almost at the heart of the Gion district, the most sophisticated area for traditional entertainment in Kyoto. The Yojiya Gion store is open daily from 10:00 to 20:00. You may also visit the Yojiya store located on the first floor of the Daimaru Kyoto. The address of the Daimaru Kyoto is 79 Shijo Takakura, Nakagyo-ku.

Yojiya beauty products have prices between ¥260 ($4) and ¥9000 ($110)
Kyoto Nishiki Food Market

5) Kyoto Nishiki Food Market

What to buy here: Kyotsukemono.

Tsukemono are pickled vegetables from Japan, Kyotsukemono are pickles produced in Kyoto. There are three main kinds of tsukemono in Kyoto: suguki, made of suigukina (a kind of turnip); shibazuke, made of myouga (a kind of ginger), shiso (perilla) and kamonasu (a kind of eggplant grown in Kamigamo in Kyoto); senmaizuke, made of shogoinkabura (the biggest type of turnip grown in Shogoin in Kyoto). Tsukemono is a common food in Japan and is served in many places. Japanese people began preserving food by salting it at a very early time. The recipes for preparing tsukemono are different in each place and this is why there are so many versions of tsukemono in Japan.

The best place to buy Kyotsukemono is the Kyoto Nishiki Food Market, also called “The Kitchen of Kyoto”. This market is a five block long shopping street lined with shops and restaurants. Kyotsukemono prices begin with ¥500 (about $6) for 200 gr or ¥3000 (about $37) for a gift set.

The Nishiki Food market was established in 1310 when it was a large wholesale market. The market, like the rest of the city of Kyoto, suffered during the Onin Civil War in the 1500s. After the war ended, the warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi reopened it again and this time as a well known retail market for food and groceries.

Shops at the Nishiki Food market sell all types of food. They sell vegetables, rice, fresh and dried fish, boiled fish paste, meat, dried bean curd, pickles and sweets. Most vendors allow customers to sample the produce before purchase. Some specialty stores have small eateries that serve the same specialty fare sold by the store.

Most shops are open from 9:00 to 18:00 and are closed on Wednesday or Sunday.

6) Daishodo

What to buy here: Ukio-e are Japanese Woodblock Prints that were popular between the 17th and 20th century. The word Ukiyo-e was Buddhist in origin and meant “sad world”, but by the 17th century the meaning was changed to “floating world”, Ukiyo-e became “pictures of the floating world” due to the images that were depicting a world of transient pleasures and a carefree existence. These paintings were often simple posters advertising theater performances and brothels, or idol portraits of popular actors and beautiful tea house girls. However there were also many landscape paintings animated by the Japanese love of nature. In the 18th century new techniques were developed which allowed full-color printing. Nowadays Ukiyo-e represent landscapes, portraits, scenes from history, theater and others. They always are great souvenirs as postcards and pictures.

Daishodo is a shop specialized in Japanese antique books, Ukiyo-e and modern Japanese prints. The shop is located along Shinkyogoku at 604-8045 Enpukujimae-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. They have a large selection of Ukiyo-e including some from the Edo period and of course Kyo-hanga, the Kyoto style woodblock prints. The shop is open from 11:00 until 18:45, it is only closed on Wednesdays.

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.
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
Ukyo-ku Walking Tour

Ukyo-ku Walking Tour

Ukyo-ku is one of the eleven wards of Kyoto and it comprises the northwestern corner of the city. This area contains a large number of important religious complexes, some of them listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most famous attractions of Ukyo-ku in Kyoto are selected and described in the next walking tour. So check it out and enjoy your Kyoto adventure.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.7 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
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
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
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

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.