Source: Kentaro Ohno
Kyoto, Japan is where the traditional and modern mesh. In the streets with towering skyscrapers, are also lovely neighborhoods where old structures of Japan are preserved. In the crowd is a mix of middle-class workers in suits, teenagers in their trendy pop art outfits, and men or women proudly clad in traditional kimonos. The large market justifies the thriving retail industry of Kyoto. Everything old and new is in demand. For travelers and tourists like you and me, this is the perfect place to shop. Find the unique and the conventional in the many shopping spots of Kyoto.
The list below does not only feature the malls that are most common in cities. You will also find eclectic shops with trinkets that might tickle your fancy.
1. Nishiki Market
Anyone who goes to Kyoto would surely recommend Nishiki Market. This five-block marketplace has a hundred shops and restaurants. The goods in Nishiki Market are coming from local produce. You will expect to see almost everything in this market from cookware to ingredients. Hence, the name ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ is coined for this vibrant market. If you are adventurous enough, try the free goodies of Kyoto’s delicacies offered by most of the stalls. One thing for sure, you will not get out of this market empty handed.
- Name: Nishiki Market
- Address: Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
- Access: The Nishiki Market street runs parallel to Shijo Avenue, one block north of Shijo Avenue
- Opening hour: Varies by store, typically 9 am to 6 pm
- Phone: +81 752214003
- Website: www.kyoto-nishiki.or.jp
2. Flea Market at Toji Temple
If you are a hunter of what is unique and interesting, visit the Flea Market on the grounds of Toji Temple. Every 21st of each month from early hours of dawn until sunset, this market opens up to the public. Vendors sell almost anything from new and second-hand items. On Sundays, the antique dealers are given a designated area to sell their goods. There is always something exciting in owning a piece of item from the flea market. The fact that you bought it from a flea market is already a conversation on its own, how much more if you talk about the item’s history. If you are lucky, you might stumble on something ancient and valuable.
- Name: Toji Temple
- Address: 1 Kujocho, Minami Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-8473, Japan
- Price: Access: ¥ 500 – ¥ 800 (During special openings of the pagoda)
- Opening hour: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (until 4:30 pm from mid September to mid March)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing.
- Website: www.touji-ennichi.com
3. Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade
For the hip and young, Shin Kyogoko Arcade offers a great place to shop for trendy clothes. The clothes here are reasonably priced compared to the other malls uptown. Next to Asakusa Nakamise, the oldest shopping strip in Tokyo, Shin Kyogoko Arcade is actually the second oldest. Restaurants line up the street along with the shops so you will never go hungry if you decide to shop ‘til you drop.
- Name: Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcade
- Address: Nakagyo-ku | Between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori, Kyoto 604-0001, Kyoto Prefecture
- Access: Take the Kyoto city bus number 17, 4, 5 or 205. Get off at [Shijo Kawaramachi] Stop. It is 150m west from there
- Website: www.shinkyogoku.or.jp
Just parallel to Shin Kyogoko Arcade is Teramachi. From clothing stores, footwear, restaurants, drugstores, specialty stores, and many others, everything is here. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes when shopping in Teramachi as the place is packed with shoppers during weekends. Teramachi is a popular spot in Kyoto. Its reputation dates back in the Meiji period. Back then, the place was a high-end residential area that eventually was converted to a shopping area. The first photo studio in Kyoto is located in Teramachi.
- Name: Teramachi
- Address: Uematsu-cho, Shimogyuo-ku, Kyoto 600-8028, Kyoto Prefecture
- Opening hour: 24/7
- Website: www.kyoto-teramachi.or.jp
The Katana or commonly called the Samurai sword is a weapon that spells JAPAN. You can never say you have been to Japan if you have not visited a Samurai maker or a Samurai shop. Tozando sells authentic swords and other related items. Browse the displays and marvel at the intricate details of the Japanese sword. Your inner ninja will surely thank you after this trip. If you decide to buy a Katana, the seller will help secure the registration and exportation document. The items here are expensive as many authentic items are, but it is definitely worth it.
- Name: Tozando
- Address: 24 Entomi-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, 606-8323 Japan
- Price: Iaido sword from ¥ 21,000
- Access: 10min walk from Jingu Marutamachi Station, Keihan line
- Opening hour: 10 am – 7 pm
- Phone: +81-75-762-1341
- Website: www.tozando.com
6. Aeon Mall Kyoto
You will find the Aeon Mall next to the Hachijo-guchi exit of the Kyoto Station. There are around 150 shops in this mall, mostly selling Japan’s top leading brands in clothing, computers, and others. International brands are also prominent in the area. Some would say that it is relatively cheaper to shop at this mall because the goods sold here are tax-free.
- Name: Aeon Mall Kyoto
- Address: 1 Nishikujō Toriiguchi-chō, Minami-ku
- Access: Kyoto Station
- Opening hour: 10am-9pm, food floor until 10pm
- Website: www.kyotostation.com
7. Kyoto Handicraft Center
What is more rewarding than learning how to make those hand painted fans traditionally used by the Geishas? For a free demonstration and workshop of handcrafted souvenirs and the like, visit the Kyoto Handicraft Center. This place is located just across Tozando, the samurai shop we feature on the list. If you think that arts and crafts are not just for you, feel free to shop around.
- Name: Kyoto Handicraft Center
- Address: 22-2 Shogoin Entomicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8323, Japan
- Opening hour: 10 am – 7 pm
- Phone: +81 75-761-8001
- Website: www.kyotohandicraftcenter.com
Located downtown in Kyoto and just a one-minute walk from the Kawaramachi Station is this giant mall called Takashimaya. It was said that the history of this mall is as ancient as Kyoto. Takashimaya started as a kimono and a clothing store in 1831. Today, the imposing building of Takashimaya is not also a shopping area but also a tourist attraction and one of the famous landmarks of Kyoto. What sets it apart from the other malls in the city is its basement food court. The food selection, ranging from oriental to western cuisine is countless. If you do not feel too heavy in the stomach after devouring those dishes, feel free to burn those calories and check the other displays of this big mall.
- Name: Takashimaya
- Address: 600-8520 52, Nishiiru Sincho Shijo – dori Kawaramachi Shimogyo-ku Kyoto City
- Access: Direct underground passage to Hankyu Kyoto line Kawaramachi Station
- Opening hour: 10 am – 8 pm, restaurants to 9.30 pm
- Phone: + 81 75 221 8811
- Website: www.takashimaya.co.jp
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Let us get out of the city for a while and walk the path less travelled. In our quest to find the best spot for shopping, we cannot resist but feature Higashiyama District. In the sloping eastern mountains of Kyoto, is this traditional neighborhood with wooden houses, cobblestone pathways, and traditional shops evoking that old feeling of the old Kyoto capital. Tourists and travelers enjoy the old-fashioned shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can shop for souvenirs, potteries, and other delicacies in this district. What makes this place striking is really the ambience. Aside from shopping, what you will get here is a memorable experience.
- Name: Higashiyama District
- Address: Lower slopes of the eastern mountains of Kyoto
- Access: accessed from multiple bus stops between the Gojozaka (10 minutes, ¥ 230 one way) and Gion (15 minutes, ¥ 230) bus stops
Mina is a commercial complex owned by Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. This mall in Kyoto is said to be the first of the company’s commercial complex to be established in Western Japan. Bearing the major brands like Uniqlo and Loft, Mina offers a trendy spot for those seeking sleek fashion. The target market is mostly women from ages 25-35, but there are no limits when you feel young at heart. This mall will provide you different shopping retailers and a wide array of restaurants to choose from.
- Name: Mina
- Address: Kawaramachi-dōri, Shijō-agaruNakagyō-ku Kyoto Japan
- Access: Keihan line to Gion-Shijō, Hankyū line to Kawaramachi
- Opening hour: 11 am – 12 am
- Phone: + 81 75 222 8470
- Website: www.mina-kyoto.com
There are many more places to cover when you want to go shopping in Kyoto. It used to be the western capital of Japan after all. With so many delights to have, plan your trips wisely to maximize your time. Bring your wallet and your sense of adventure.
Have a good trip and travel!