In Kyoto, you could spend your entire trip visiting temples and shrines, but you’d be missing out on the city’s incredible shopping scene. Kyoto, simply put, is a paradise for shoppers. Although you’ll probably want to pick up your cosplay and lolita wardrobe in Tokyo, for all things Japanese handicrafts, Kyoto will be your prime destination. Kyoto is home to the most extensive offerings in Japanese pottery, folding fans, and lacquerware, among many others.
Unlike Tokyo’s shopping, which is spread all over the large city, the shopping in Kyoto is much more concentrated. This means that you won’t find yourself running all over the city, dashing from one shopping area to another.
Kyoto’s main shopping is organized into two districts, the Kyoto Station district and Downtown Kyoto. Read on for our ultimate shopping guide to Kyoto.
The Kyoto Station is Kyoto’s second-largest shopping district. It contains many shops inside and underneath the station. The Kyoto Station building houses the Isetan department store, which contains 11 floors and two basement floors. Here you can find high-end brands like Burberry and Gucci. On the top floor of the building, you’ll find restaurants. Underneath Kyoto Station there are several electronic and camera stores.
Downtown Kyoto is where you’ll want to focus the bulk of your shopping. The district is composed of hundreds of small shops, large department stores, and the Nishiki Market. The heart of Kyoto is Shijo-dori, a street constantly bustling with locals and tourists.
The area boasts a plethora of department stores and malls including Takashimaya department store, the Kyoto Maraui department store, the Koto+ mall, Daimaru department store, the OPA mall, and the Mina Kyoto mall.
There are also several shopping arcades in the area, including Teramachi and Shinkyogoku. The arcades are a good place to buy souvenirs. They house a number of specialty stores selling knives, dolls, and woodblock prints.
Teramachi Dori continues to a street filled with designer shops, galleries and cafes. The street is lined with boutique clothing and decor and gift shops. Some of Kyoto’s best shopping can be found here.
The Kyoto Handicraft Center
This is a great place to head for a huge selection of high-quality souvenirs and arts and crafts. The center fills seven floors, which offer everything from woodblock prints, yukata (light cotton robes), and pottery, to kimonos, Japanese cosmetics, and jewelry. The center even offers workshops to visitors looking to learn a new hobby like shichimi spice blending.
The best place to head for ceramics are the flea markets, the top floors of department stores, and along the streets leading up to Kiyomizu-dera temple. Kyoto holds two monthly flea markets, one at Toji Temple on the 21st of every month and the other at Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine on the 25th of every month. You can find some great bargains on antiques, ceramics, traditional clothing, Japanese furniture, manga, and jewelry. If you are in Kyoto on the right days, these markets are a must.
Wagaminomise Morita is the king of Japanese paper shops. The shop specializes in washi, which is Japanese handmade paper. You can find paper of varying patterns, colors, and sizes. The store is a great place to pick up some authentic Japanese crafts and souvenirs.
If you’re in the market for bamboo items, head to Kohchosai. The company has been selling bamboo products since 1898. They sell products ranging from hand-woven baskets to kitchen utensils.
And of course, one couldn’t talk about shopping in Kyoto without the Nishiki Market. The market is a big shopping area for locals and tourists alike and has been in business for around 400 years. Among the shops in the market is the venerable Aritsugu. The brand was founded in 1560 and sells more than 400 different kinds of knives.