Kyoto is famous for temples, but it’s also a shopper’s paradise. Here’s some Kyoto shopping tips and a list of the best shops in Kyoto, both traditional and modern.
Kyoto is a great place to buy traditional and modern Japanese goods. In fact, it’s probably easier to shop here than in places like Tokyo, because Kyoto is compact and most of the shopping is located right downtown, all within walking distance of the main subway stations.
Where To Shop In Kyoto
There are two main shopping districts in Kyoto: The Kyoto Station area and Downtown Kyoto. Kyoto Station has a lot of shops right inside and underneath the station building, as well as some vast electronics and camera emporiums. Downtown Kyoto has several large department stores, hundreds of smaller shops and the famous Nishiki Market. All told, Downtown Kyoto is the best place to shop in Kyoto, especially when you consider the number of cafes and shops in the area.
What To Buy In Kyoto
Since Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, it goes without saying that Kyoto is the best place in the country to buy traditional goods. Here are some examples:
- washi (traditional Japanese paper)
- green tea and other Japanese teas
- yukata (light summer robes)
- martial arts goods
- wood-block prints
Of course, Kyoto is also a modern city and you can find plenty of modern fashions, electronics, camera goods etc.
Best Shops in Kyoto
- Daimaru Department Store: A great all-around department store with a fantastic basement food floor.
- Takashimaya Department Store: Another great all-around department store with a fabulous basement food floor and a superb restaurant floor.
- Isetan Department Store: Inside the Kyoto Station building, this is a good department store with two fine basement food floors.
Arts & Crafts Emporiums
- The Kyoto Handicraft Center: Art and craft emporiums and souvenir centers are usually tacky and touristy affairs, but this place is actually pretty good. I particularly like the woodblock prints here.
Best Kyoto Markets
The best markets in Kyoto are these three:
- Nishiki Market: Hands down the best food market in the city.
- Kobo-san Flea Market: Held at To-ji Temple on the 21st of each month.
- Tenjin-san Flea Market: Held at Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine on the 25th of each month.
- Nishiki Market: This food market is also a good shopping arcade with plenty of traditional souvenirs on offer.
Where To Find Traditional Japanese Goods In Kyoto
Washi (traditional Japanese paper)
- Wagaminomise Morita Washi: My favorite washi shop in the city.
- Kamiji Kakimoto: Another excellent paper shop, right downtown.
The best places to look for ceramics are at the flea markets, the upper floors of the department stores, along Teramachi-dori between Marutamachi and Oike and in the streets leading up to Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
- Aritsugu: The best shop in town for superb traditional cooking knives. In Nishiki Market.
- Zohiko: This is the best lacquerware shop in Kyoto. The upstairs is like a museum.
- Ippodo: A sumptuous tea shop with an attached café where you can sample the wares.
Cameras, Computers and Electronics
- Bic Camera: My favorite camera, computer and electronics shop in Kyoto.
- Yodobashi Camera: Similar to the above, but somewhat trickier to navigate.
Art and Antiques
- Robert Mangold Gallery: A superb gallery for serious collectors and passionate amateurs. The offerings span the eras and genres of Japanese art.
- Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery: A must-visit gallery for fans of Japanese ceramics.
- Kyoto Art and Antiques: For a comprehensive rundown of Kyoto’s best art and antique shopping see my dedicated Kyoto Art and Antiques page.
If you’re shopping specifically for souvenirs, take a look at my Best Kyoto Souvenirs page.
Be sure to check my Tokyo Shopping page on TrulyTokyo.com to compare what’s special about the shopping in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world