Kyoto Shopping

Most shops slide their doors open at 10, and many shopkeepers partake of the morning ritual of sweeping and watering the entrance to welcome the first customers. Traditional shops lock up at 6 or 7 in the evening. Stores often close sporadically once or twice a month (closings are irregular), so it helps to call in advance if you're making a special trip. On weekends, downtown can be very crowded.


shopkeeper's traditional greeting to a customer is o-ideyasu (Kyoto-ben, or Kyoto dialect, for "honored to have you here"), voiced in the lilting Kyoto intonations with the required bowing of the head. When a customer makes a purchase, the shopkeeper will respond with o-okini ("thank you" in Kyoto-ben), a smile, and a bow. Take notice of the careful effort and adroitness with which purchases are wrapped; it's an art in itself.

Kyoto's depato (department stores) are small in comparison to their mammoth counterparts in Tokyo and Osaka. They still carry a wide range of goods and are great places for one-stop souvenir shopping. Wandering around the basement food halls is a good way to build up an appetite. Prices drop dramatically during end-of-season sales.

Kyoto has several popular seasonal fairs, from local area pottery sales to the national antiques fairs, usually held in May, June, and October. Several temple markets take place in Kyoto each month. These are great places to pick up bargain kimonos or unusual souvenirs. They're also some of the best spots for people-watching.

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Kyoto Shopping

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Aizen Kobo

  • Local Specialties

Fine handwoven and hand-dyed indigo textiles are this shop's specialty. The indigo plant is grown only in one place in Japan nowadays,...

Ando Japanese Doll Shop

  • Antiques/Collectibles

The Ando brothers, Tadao and Tadahiko, handmake dolls for the Imperial Court and individual families. The finest silk brocades adorn...


  • Ceramics/Glassware

In the heart of the pottery district near Kiyomizu-dera, Asahi-do specializes in Kyoto-style hand-painted porcelain. It offers the widest...

Chion-ji Market

  • Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

A market specializing in handmade goods and crafts is held here on the 15th of each month. Dolls, small carved wooden statues, fabric,...

Daimaru Department Store

  • Department Stores

This large department store is known for high-quality merchandise—cosmetics, clothing, furniture, kitchenwares, and other products...

Fujii Daimaru Department Store

  • Department Stores

This store focuses on trendy fashions but caters to all ages. Many locals favor the basement food market for its reasonable prices and...

Gallery Utsuwa-kan

  • Ceramics/Glassware

Kyoto's hottest place to see contemporary arts and crafts—mostly ceramics but also glass—displays works on four floors. Though young,...


  • Department Stores

The 13-story Isetan, in the Kyoto Station Building, is a branch of its Tokyo-based cousin. The feel here is slightly exclusive Tokyo.


  • Local Specialties

A thing of beauty more than utility in Japan, traditional umbrellas provide protection from the scorching sun and pelting rain. Since...

Kitano Tenman-gu

  • Gifts/Souvenirs

On the 25th of each month, the streets around the shrine grounds overflow with all sorts of goods: used clothing and kimonos, food, plants,...


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