Locating the perfect shops in Kyoto

Bustling crowd on Ninenzaka street.

Kyoto is a beautiful blend of traditional and modern cultures, which makes it a wonderfully versatile place to go shopping. Like Tokyo, Kyoto has areas with completely different vibes within a 10 minute walk of each other; one can go from praying at a shrine or temple to enjoying multi-story gachapon stores within half an hour. 

Traditional trinkets

For those looking for more artisanal or traditional goods, try your luck in areas surrounding and leading up to temples and shrines. Ninenzaka, for example, is a street a few minutes away from the gorgeous Kiyomizu-dera, and it’s absolutely packed full of shops. There’s a lot of local pottery being sold here, usually teapots and mugs, which make an excellent gift for the tea/coffee/hot chocolate lover in your life. 

These areas have plenty of goods with Japanese iconography for anyone looking to subtly flex their trip to Japan. Keychains and charms are extremely popular, so visitors are likely to find something that they like as one of them. Fushimi Inari has lots of fox keychains, charms and magnets because of their popularity in Shinto. It’s also easy to find more covert merchandise, like a lucky cat phone charm.

Contemporary curios

Kawaramachi Dori street is a one-stop-shop for all modern shopping desires. This long and winding street is packed with clothing, beauty, décor and toy shops, to name a few. International brands, like H&M, are sprinkled in, but visitors should venture outside of their comfort zone and see what the native stores have to offer. 

Kiddyland is just one of the cute shops Kawaramachi Dori street has to offer. Visitors will find three floors of entertainment/brand characters like Sanrio, Mofusand, BT21, Sumikko gurashi, Studio Ghibli, Miffy and many more. 

While each section is relatively small, there’s a lot of variety in the products they carry. Most, if not all, sections have stationery items like unique washi tapes, pens, pencils and pencil cases. Of course, plushies of varying sizes, textures and purposes can be found as well.

The Rilakkuma store on floor two has plushies that fit in your palm, and plushies that are bigger than your torso! They offer home décor, clothing (mostly socks), stationery, tech accessories and beauty products, so it’s perfect for finding something cute for every piece of daily life.

This is only a small glimpse into the world of shopping that Kyoto has to offer. The city’s charm adds a lot of appeal to what would have been a boring shopping trip in the U.S. The aforementioned shopping districts are outdoors, so don’t forget to stay hydrated and take breaks (maybe at nearby restaurants).

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