Shopping in Kyoto is the perfect place to find unique and interesting items for every budget.
Kyoto is an ideal destination for those looking to immerse themselves in history and culture. The city’s charming people and a wide variety of shopping opportunities make it a great place to visit. Traditional handicrafts and antiques are highly sought-after souvenirs.
Examples include beautiful Japanese folding fans, traditional dolls, colorful kimonos, pottery, porcelain, and green tea or sake. For the best shopping experience, head downtown around Kawaramachi subway station, where you can find a mix of modern boutiques and shopping malls.
The Best Places to Go Shopping in Kyoto
1. Kyoto Department Stores
Kyoto is a great destination for shopping enthusiasts. Just a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station, AEON Mall offers international retailers, specialty shops, and an amusement arcade. Takashimaya Kyoto is another great choice for shopping, including international boutiques, men’s and women’s fashion, jewelry, cosmetics, and culinary delights. In downtown Kyoto, Daimaru lets you shop for international brands and high-end fashion and enjoy global eats from various restaurants. With so many options available, you can spend days in Kyoto finding unique items.
Daimaru Department Store: an all-around department store that features a great basement food floor.
Takashimaya Department Store: another wonderful all-around department store with an excellent basement food floor and a fantastic restaurant floor.
Isetan Department Store: located inside the Kyoto Station building, is a good department store that has two impressive basement food floors.
2. Kyoto Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market is a must-see destination for visitors to Kyoto. Locally known as “the kitchen of Kyoto,” it offers an insight into the daily life of Japan. The market boasts more than 100 stalls, many family-run establishments operating for generations.
You can find a wide array of delicacies such as sake, tofu, fish, Japanese pickles, vegetables, seaweed, and sweets, as well as cooked food and kitchenware like knives. Many of the products available at Nishiki Market are of higher quality than those found in ordinary supermarkets, but prices will be correspondingly higher too.
Kungyoku-do is a boutique store next to Nishi Hongan-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. It has been trading from the same location since its inception in 1594 and specializes in aromatic incense. In Japan, Kodo, or ‘the way of incense,’ is an austere art form. The smoke rising from the incense is said to show the way to heaven, making these fragrant tokens of Kyoto symbolic of spiritual connection.
Kungyoku-do imports materials from throughout Asia to craft their products. Therefore, you can take home the scent of Kyoto with some aromatic incense from this unique store.
4. Toji Temple Flea Market
Every 21st of the month, Toji Temple in Japan holds what is known as Kobo-san, one of the country’s oldest and biggest flea markets. The market attracts bargain hunters and collectors from all around due to its abundance of authentic Japanese antique furniture and textiles, jewelry, artworks, kimonos, and unique decorative household items.
It is recommended to arrive early as the best products tend to be sold quickly. Furthermore, the atmosphere is laid back and welcoming; however, some communication may require a lot of pointing and gesturing.
5. Nishijin Textiles Centre
Nishijin is a famous textile center in Kyoto that is well-known throughout Japan. It has earned the reputation of being a “tough guy” due to its long history of surviving various setbacks, such as wars. When visiting Nishijin, visitors have the chance to try on kimonos and experience weaving by traditional methods. There are also kimono fashion shows several times a day; however, it is best to call ahead for more information as certain activities require advance booking.
Before leaving the center, don’t forget to check out their shop, which has an excellent selection of items, including kimonos, obi (a type of sash), ties, gold brocade fabrics, woven small goods, and household items.
6. Tachikichi of Kyoto
Tachikichi is a must-see for anyone visiting Kyoto. With a history of over 250 years, this store offers contemporary and antique ceramics. On the five floors of Tachikichi, visitors can browse through exquisite dinner sets and sake cups of varying styles – from traditional to more modern designs, such as their anime series.
Although shoppers can purchase these beautiful pieces, it is also worth a visit to admire the regular exhibitions of international and Japanese ceramic artists. With its long-standing expertise in the ceramics industry, Tachikichi is sure to leave an impression on everyone who visits.
7. Ippodo Tea Shop
Ippodo is a nearly 300-year-old tea shop located in Kyoto, Japan. It is renowned for its top-quality teas and direct involvement in the procurement and blending of carefully selected tea leaves. Visitors to Ippodo can purchase high-grade Japanese green tea such as matcha, gyokuro, sencha, and bancha, as well as a variety of interesting tea utensils like bamboo whisks (chasen), bamboo tea ladles, and traditional teapots.
At Ippodo’s impressive ‘Kaboku’ tearoom, guests have the opportunity to learn how to brew their own tea. In addition to its main store on Teramachi-dori in Kyoto, Ippodo has expanded with branches in Tokyo and New York.
8. Morita Wagami
Paper is an essential element in Japanese culture, with traditional uses including doors, windows, fans, lamps, and umbrellas. The quality handmade paper of Morita Washi is highly sought-after both domestically and internationally.
A visit to Morita Washi’s shop offers a huge selection of paper that will fill hours of browsing pleasure. Craftspeople, calligraphers, artists, and scrap-bookers alike will be amazed by the variety of colors, textures, and grains available and the beautiful chiyogami decorated papers.
9. Aizen Kobo
Entering Aizen Kobo is like walking into a family home. The Utsuki family has been in the weaving business for generations, and their hand-woven and hand-dyed indigo textiles are renowned for their high quality. The owner, Utsuki-san, is considered a master of his craft, and his dyed textile is guaranteed never to fade.
Utsuki-san will be happy to show visitors many samples of the dyed and woven goods, including clothing his wife, Hisako, designed. Hisako’s designs draw upon traditional Japanese motifs while also incorporating modern sensibilities, creating unique pieces that are both timeless and contemporary. With such a wide selection of beautiful items, it’s no wonder that Aizen Kobo has become one of the top destinations for textile shopping in Kyoto.
10. Kuraya Hashimoto
For more than 50 years, the Hashimoto family has been in the business of selling new, antique, and decorative swords. The katana swords they have for sale are all carefully handcrafted to create genuine replicas of the swords that were once used by samurai warriors.
The store is always stocked with authentic antiques and more cost-effective replicas. Mr. Kuraya Hashimoto, the owner, understands that taking a samurai sword home on a plane may be an issue, so he offers safe and secure shipment to most countries.
11. Tsuji Shibazuke Honpo
If you’re looking to bring back some uniquely Japanese snacks, don’t forget to include tsukemono pickles! Tsuji Shibazuke is renowned in Kyoto for its outstanding pickles. They use only homegrown vegetables and traditional pickling processes, creating a variety of delicious pickles. Depending on the season, pickled eggplant, ginger, cucumbers, red peppers, and more can be found.
After visiting Inari Fushimi Shrine, where the god of good business resides, stop by the Fukunoya gift store to pick up a token of business prosperity. Fukunoya sells a wide range of Japanese altar ornaments and good luck charms. These make perfect souvenirs for family and friends back home.
Foreign visitors often take home key rings and maneki-neko (beckoning cats), two of the most popular items at Fukunoya. Cute and colorful, they are ideal gifts for any occasion.
13. Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu
Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu is a local boutique shop located south of Higashiyama subway station in Kyoto, Japan. It specializes in handmade cotton bags of various styles and colors, as well as aprons, hats, writing utensils, bags, and letter organizers. All of these products are highly functional and practical items for everyday use.
The products from Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu are so popular among locals that several hotels in Kyoto use them. Additionally, there is also a repair section available at the shop for customers’ convenience.
14. Kimura Oshido
Kimura Oshido is a shop that specializes in traditional Japanese dolls, mainly from Kyoto. It can be found right next to the stunning Kiyomizu Temple.
Hinaningyo dolls, for example, are placed in the home to ask for joy as daughters grow up. Baby dolls are used to wish health and many children upon the recipient. Lucky cat dolls are iconic symbols in Japan, each with its own unique meaning.
Be sure to check out Kimura Oshido to learn more about traditional Japanese dolls and their significance.
15. Miyawaki Baisen-an
Miyawaki Baisen-an is an iconic fan shop in a vintage building dating back to 1823. It is situated on Tominokoji-dori and is probably Kyoto’s most famous fan shop.
At Miyawaki Baisen-an, visitors can browse an array of fans that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs, and scents. These decorative fans are lacquered and painted, making them practical tools and cultural icons.
Visiting this boutique store is a great way to pick up a special souvenir of Kyoto.
Kasagen is the perfect place to pick up a unique memento from Kyoto. The shop offers an array of oiled-paper umbrellas reminiscent of those carried by the city’s famous geishas. These umbrellas protect their kimonos and provide shade from the sun. With over 140 years in business, Kasagen stands by the quality of its products, offering customers a guarantee that their purchase will last for years. Furthermore, Kasagen has been given the incredible honor of making umbrellas on behalf of the Imperial Household Agency.
A traditional part of a geisha’s ensemble is her kanzashi, a wooden hair comb. Using hair ornaments is infused with symbolism and allows geisha to express their own personalities. Jusan-ya has been crafting exquisite boxwood combs and hair accessories for Kyoto’s geiko and maiko for over six decades. Even if you don’t have the kimono to complete the look, these delicate items make great gifts for any woman.
Shopping in Kyoto Tips
Where to Buy Kimonos in Kyoto
For out-of-town visitors looking to experience traditional Japanese culture, the popular downtown location is Shijo Dori Street and Kawaramachi Dori Street. Here, many shops offer kimonos, clothing accessories, and unique souvenirs such as red lanterns, tea-ceremony utensils, and lacquerware. In addition to the shopping opportunities, these areas are well known for their lively nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and coffee shops.
Where to Buy Antiques in Kyoto
Pulse Plaza is the largest antiques fair in Japan and takes place thrice a year, attracting over 300 dealers worldwide. Admission to the grand affair is free, making it almost as good as visiting a museum for the wealth of historically significant items. Even without the intention of purchasing anything, it’s worth a visit for the experience of being in such an incredible room full of antiques.
The location of Pulse Plaza is in Takeda, about 10 minutes south of Kyoto station. A free shuttle bus is available from Takeda station on the Karasuma line for those who need transportation.