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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.

A shopkeeper's traditional greeting to a customer is o-ideyasu (Kyoto-ben, the 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.


Fodor's Review

This popular store, part of a national chain, has five floors with everything from beauty products to anime merchandise. Kids and teenagers love browsing here. There's much to catch the eye.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Beauty Products & Anime Merchandise

Address: Kawaramachi-nishi, Takoyakushi-dori, Kyoto, 604-8031, Japan

Phone: 075-255–6210


Hours: Daily 11–9

Takashimaya Department Store

Fodor's Review

Another of Kyoto's favorite department stores, Takashimaya specializes in luxury goods and designer fashions. You'll find an accommodating, English-speaking staff and a convenient money-exchange counter. The top floor has bargain merchandise, and another floor is filled with restaurants to revive the shop weary. The exhibition hall and galleries are also worth a visit, as is the basement gourmet food market.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Luxury Goods & Designer Fashions

Address: Shijo-Kawaramachi, Kyoto, 600-8001, Japan

Phone: 075-221–8811


Hours: Daily 10–7:30


Fodor's Review

One of the two largest temple markets takes place on the 21st of each month. Vendors arrive early and set up by 7 or 8 am. Hundreds of stalls display fans, kimonos, antiques, potted plants, herbs, and newly designed clothing. Bring a pencil and paper to help you bargain down the price. The temple also hosts a smaller antiques market on the first Sunday of the month.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Fans, Kimonos, Antiques, Potted Plants, Herbs, & Newly Designed Clothing

Address: 1 Kujo-cho, Kyoto, 601-8473, Japan


Fodor's Review

The tenugui hand towels sold by this shop have served many purposes through the centuries. In designs today that range from traditional to playful, the towels make wonderful scarves, napkins, bottle holders, and other items depending on how you twist and shape them. The colors and designs are so vibrant and eye-catching that framing one and hanging it as art is another possibility. This RAAK store is one of several in the city.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Tenugui Hand Towels

Address: Muromachi-dori, 358 Yakugyosha-cho, Anekoji Sagaru, Kyoto, Japan

Phone: 075-222–8870

Hours: Daily 11–7


Fodor's Review

Steps from Shijo subway station's Exit 5, this quaint kimono shop stocks original attire and antique accessories. Its English-speaking staff is kind and extremely knowledgeable. Your time spent trying on different items is sure to be a fun fashion experience. Many of the goods sold here are painstakingly tracked down at estate sales and flea markets.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Kimonos & Other Fabric Goods

Address: 319–3 Kamiyanagi-cho, Karasuma-higashi-iru, Bukkoji-dori, Kyoto, 600-8099, Japan

Phone: 075-341–8777

Hours: Thurs.–Tues. noon–7

Aizen Kobo

Fodor's Review

Fine handwoven and hand-dyed indigo textiles are this shop's specialty. The indigo plant is grown only in one place in Japan nowadays, and Aizen Kobo makes exclusive use of that product, crafting cloth and garments in this rich deep-blue color. The owner dyes the cloth and his wife, Hisako Utsuki, designs.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Indigo-dyed Clothing & Cloth Goods

Address: Omiya Nishi-iru, Nakasuji-dori, Kyoto, 602-8449, Japan

Phone: 075-441–0355

Hours: Daily 10–5:30

Yamato Mingei-ten

Fodor's Review

The ceramics, glass, basketry, lacquerware, and other objects sold here are made with such artistry that only their utilitarian nature nudges them into the craft, as opposed to fine art, category. The owner keeps the prices reasonable so these beautiful things will be appreciated and used daily.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Ceramics, Glass, Basketry, Lacquerware, & Other Crafts

Address: Kawaramachi-dori, Takoyakushi-agaru, Kyoto, 604-8033, Japan

Phone: 075-221–2641

Hours: Wed.–Mon. 11–7

Miyawaki Baisen-an

Fodor's Review

The famous fan shop Miyawaki Baisen-an has been in business since 1823, delighting customers not only with its fine collection of lacquered, scented, painted, and paper fans, but also with the old-world atmosphere of the shop itself.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Fans

Address: Tominokoji Higashi-iru, Rokkaku-dori, Kyoto, 604-8073, Japan

Phone: 075-221–0181


Hours: Daily 9–6


Fodor's Review

One-room Ryushido sells exquisite paper products for calligraphers: paper of varying thicknesses, writing brushes, ink sticks, ink stones, and paperweights. The shop has a classic, artisanal feel.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Stationary & Calligraphy Goods

Address: Nijo-agaru, Teramachi-dori, Kyoto, 604-0916, Japan

Phone: 075-252–4120

Hours: Sun. and Holidays 9–6

Zohiko Lacquerware

Fodor's Review

Kyoto's oldest and most renowned maker of lustrous lacquerware trays, tea ceremony utensils, calligraphy, boxes and other lacquer products was established in 1661. The showroom on Teramachi-dori has both contemporary and traditional specimens.

Shopping Information

What You Should Buy Here: Lacquerware

Address: Nakagyo-ku, Teramachi-dori, Nijo agaru, nishi-gawa, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 604-0916, Japan

Phone: 075-229–6625


Hours: Daily 10–6