Kyoto traditional crafts are renowned throughout Japan as the products of a fine tradition. The best and brightest of artisans and craftspeople are gathered here developing schools of magnificent Kiyomizu ware ceramics, Yuzen dyeing and Nishijin weaving of kimono silk, lacquer ware, woodblock prints, hand made paper, Japanese umbrellas, bamboo crafts, cloisonne', Damascene, dolls, accessories, folding fans, sake and other handiworks. There are many Kyoto shopping areas to be explored; from small individual shops along winding paths in Higashiyama and Nishijin areas, to the ultramodern department stores at Kyoto Station and the Shijo area, to the bustling food stalls at Nishiki market. Temple markets are a fascinating experience and it is worth checking listings for events at Toji, Myorenji, Koshoji and Chionji temples, and Kitano Tenmangu, Kamigoryo, Kamigamo and Imamiya shrines while you are in town. Japan is strongly associated with electronics goods and Kyoto is no exception being the proud home of global leaders such as Omron, Kyocera and Nintendo. Some electronics and souvenir shops and department stores are able to sell products tax free when you show them your passport.
Kiyomizu Ware Ceramics
Kiyomizu ware takes its name from the area of the city that house the kilns overlooked by the impressive Kiyomizudera temple. A stroll through the lanes winding up to the temple gives you plenty of opportunity to peruse the wares on display. Kiyomizu ceramics are particularly noted for their glaze and subtle blues define the original colourings.
Kyoto Yuzen Dyeing
Yuzen dyeing developed as a method of decorating kimono fabrics with seasonal and traditional patterns. All work is done by hand and it is highly acclaimed for its intricacy. There are two methods of Yuzen dyeing; free hand or with use of stencils. Yuzen decorates not just kimono silks but also handkerchiefs, blouses and shirts, and all manner of accessories.
Nishijin Silk Textiles
Nishijin is the area of Kyoto that produces the best kimono fabrics in Japan. The workshops here operate in traditional timber buildings and families that weave today can trace their roots and skills through several generations. Nishijin weavers use silk and the coloured threads are woven into intricate designs. In keeping with the philosophy of continued innovation the artisans now sell a range of articles that appeal as souvenirs such as neckties, table runners, handbags and the like.
Kyoto Lacquer Ware
Kyoto lacquer ware has its history closely linked with the tea ceremony. Now you can by a wide variety of boxes and dining ware as well as decorations made from this distinctive craft.
Kyoto Woodblock Prints
Woodblock prints make great souvenirs as postcards and pictures. Kyoto artists describe scenes from the city and its history in subtle colours and shapes.
Kyoto Handmade Paper
As the long standing seat of national government and an important academic city, it is natural that Kyoto produces some of the finest quality paper. The Kurodani area remains one of the centres of production today and its products are popular with visitors to the city.
Traditional umbrellas are made from waxed paper. They are an essential accessory for geisha on a rainy day and larger versions offer cooling shade under which to take part in the tea ceremony.
Bamboo grows in abundance throughout the city and surrounding areas. It is a highly versatile wood that can be used to create evocative souvenirs.
Cloisonné jewellery is made by colouring sculpted metal with enamels. Expert craftsmen are able to create fascinatingly intricate designs.
Damascene came to Kyoto along the Silk Roads, and a local flavour has been developed over a thousand years. Artisans hammer their design into steel and then bring it out with gold and sliver threads. Scenes from the city are turned into table decorations and exquisite jewellery.
Only Kyoto dolls are dressed in the finery of Nishijin kimono silk. The superb craftsmanship of Kyoto dolls is famous nationwide and has great appeal to visitors.
Kyoto is a lady's delight. There is so much on offer from bags to face oil blotting paper, to hair ornaments to jewellery. This makes the city a true shopping heaven.
A folding fan is the essential accessory for all the best dressed during summertime. It is a discrete way of keeping cool as well as a way of enjoying some of the finest craftsmanship in the city.
Kyoto sake all comes from Fushimi in the south of the city. The area is blessed with abundant pure water that produces delicious rice and superb sake. Kyoto sake has a sweet mellow taste.
In Kyoto fragrances from incense are enjoyed such that there are even incense ceremonies like the tea ceremony. In imperial Kyoto if you were from the privileged classes your scent was as much your trademark as your garments. The appreciation of incense lives on in modern Kyoto and there are many different aromas available for your perusal. Scents are also available in other forms such as for rooms, closets and cars.
Japanese electrical goods are famed and sought after the world over. There are opportunities to see all the latest products in Kyoto and purchase them for export duty-free too.
- Kyoto City Tourism & Culture Information
- Kyoto Visitors' Guide
- Kyoto Handicraft Center
- Nishijin Textile Center
- Roku Roku Do
- Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
- Fukui Asahi Do
- Kyoto Official Travel Guide