26 Must-Have Kyoto Souvenirs
Kyoto souvenirs are many and varied - discover 26 of the very best, with us. From the traditional to the ultra-modern, we've got something for everyone.
Kyoto is the seventh largest city in Japan with a population of 1.4 million people, it is, however, the top priority for many visitors to the country. The city’s history, culture, architecture and undeniable beauty are evidently irresistible to the legions of tourists who flood into the city each year.
If you’re visiting Kyoto, chances are you’re going to want something to remember it by. Luckily for you, Kyoto souvenirs are not difficult to find, especially if you follow our advice. Below, we’ve put together a list of 26 of Kyoto’s very best souvenir options, which we’re confident you’re going to like.
For more on Kyoto, check out Compathy Magazine.
1. Fushimi Inari Taisha’s Torii Gate Charm (Ema)
A torii gate traditionally marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine. Pass through the gate – from the profane to the sacred – and you’ll begin to notice small plaques, known as ema, on which visitors to the shrine write their hopes and wishes for the future. Traditionally, ema are left hanging in the shrine to be picked up by the deities. However, at Kyoto’s Fushimi Shrine, visitors are given the opportunity to purchase wonderful torii shaped ema to take home as souvenirs. Traditional, meaningful and very affordable – a perfect Kyoto souvenir.
2. Kyoto Aquarium Souvenirs
Kyoto Aquarium is a newly opened, modern aquarium in Umekoji Park, not far from Kyoto Station. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing Kyoto Aquarium as a mere rainy day activity, it is a fantastic spot, where visitors are given the chance to get up close to aquatic animals from around the world (including dolphins, sharks and penguins), as well as learn about what lurks in the waters of Kyoto. Best of all, the large gift shop is brimming with souvenirs of all kinds: stuffed animals, sea life cookies and of course the perennial keychains, baseball caps and t-shirts.
Address: 〒600-8835, Kankijicho 35−1, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Kyoto Station Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 Admission: Adult - 2050 yen Phone: 075-354-3130 Website: Kyoto Aquarium
3. Arashiyama’s Bamboo Products
Located to the northwest of Kyoto in the gorgeous Arashiyama district, Sagano Bamboo Forest is one of the city’s biggest attractions and, without hyperbole, one of the most beautiful areas on earth. Although the wild bamboo is strictly off-limits, visitors are given the opportunity to take a slice of Sagano home with them courtesy of the many shops selling artisanal bamboo woodwork and crafts. Bamboo bowls, chopsticks and fans are among the most popular and buget friendly options, though if you’re looking to splash a bit more cash for something special, you won’t be left wanting.
4. Paper (Washi) Goods
Washi is the name given to decorative Japanese paper, traditionally made from the bark of trees. Lots of goods are still made using washi including earrings, thank you cards and decorations: items that make great souvenirs. A good place to find washi goods in Kyoto is Noren Gion by Corazon located on Shijo-dori and in Gion, the two largest shopping districts in the city.
Address: 〒605-0074, Gionmachiminamiwaga, Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto Station: Gion-Shijo Station Hours: 10:30 - 22:00 Phone: 075-551-9388 Website: Noren Gion
5. Green Tea (Matcha) Goods
Japan, and Kyoto especially, is famous for its matcha, or green tea products. You can find matcha and matcha-related goods everywhere in Kyoto, from matcha Kit-Kats and sweets sold in convenience stores to the high-quality green leaves sold in the large department stores. Such products are quickly becoming fashionable overseas, yet the best quality and best prices are still to be found in Japan itself.
6. Kyoto Imperial Palace Souvenirs
Kyoto Imperial Palace, the former seat of power for successive Japanese emperors, is one of Kyoto’s top tourist draws. The palace itself is impressive, but for many, it is the beautiful surrounding gardens that leave the most lasting impression. Dotted around the palace and its grounds are various souvenir shops selling everything from cheap postcards and stationary to stunning fabrics and garments.
Address: 〒602-0881, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo ward, Kyoto Station: Imadegawa Station Hours: 09:00 - 17:00 Phone: 075-211-1215 Website: Kyoto Imperial Palace
7. Nama Yatsuhashi
Nama-yatsuhashi is a steamed sweet that is wrapped in mochi (Japanese rice cake) and shaped into a triangle. This is a sweet treat typical of Kyoto and highly delicious. Nama-yatsuhashi come in many flavours and varieties, all of which can be tried out and taken home from Otabe, a specialist shop in downtown Kyoto with over 200 years of history. If you really fall in love with the snack, Otabe also runs classes on making your own nama-yatsuhashi upstairs. If you’re just passing through Kyoto, handily, there’s also a branch of Otabe inside Kyoto Station.
Address: Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward Station: Kyoto Station Hours: 10:00 - 21:00 Phone: +81 75-662-0405 Website: Otabe
8. Traditional Japanese Garments (Kimono and Yukata)
Kimono and yukata (a summer kimono) are classic souvenirs from Japan. Kyoto, the traditional heart of the nation, no doubt offers the best quality and the largest variety of these garments anywhere. Kimono, typically, are pretty expensive, whereas yukata are far more reasonable. For either, Mimuro, a specialist shop in downtown Kyoto, is by far the best place to shop.
Address: 〒604-8301, 294 Tamatsushima-cho, Shimogyo ward, Kyoto Station: Shijo Station Hours: 10:00 - 18:30 Phone: 075-344-1220 Website: Mimuro
9. Kyoto Starbucks Tumbler and Mugs
Starbucks, far from just a peddler of coffee, now also sells a great range of tumblers, mugs and other such items. Kyoto has its own special range of these good, all depicting recognisable Kyoto landmarks and adorned with charming traditional patterns. Drop into any Starbucks to get your hands on these great Kyoto souvenirs.
Want to know more about Starbucks in Japan, we’ve got you covered.
10. Iwatayama Monkey Park’s Monkey Candy
The Iwatayama Monkey Park, also known as the Arashiyama Monkey Park, is a theme park located in the Arashiyama district and home to over 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. The monkeys roam and visitors are encouraged to feed them, just don’t expect a thank you. Before you leave, don’t forget to grab a pack of monkey candies at the gift shop; an item that has become a popular souvenir item.
11. Pickled Vegetables (Tsukemono)
Pickled vegetables, or tsukemono, are a Japanese staple and a must-try when visiting Kyoto, the city most associated with this healthy snack. The best place to pick some up is the 400-year-old Nishiki Market, where a number of vendors sell homemade pickled vegetables at very low prices. The colours and smells of the vegetables, all displayed in large wooden buckets, are a joy to browse even if you don’t make a purchase.
Address: 〒604-8054, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Kawaramachi Station Hours: 09:30 - 17:30 Phone: 075-211-3882 Website: Nishiki market
12. Aritsugu’s Knives
Chefs and eager amateurs flock to Japan to get their hands on the country’s world-class knives. Fujiwara Aritsugu is Kyoto’s finest retailer of such knives, which can fetch as much as 1,000 dollars on the open market. The shop is located on the northern edge of Nishiki Market and is the perfect place to shop for a souvenir that will delight the cook in your life.
Address: 〒604-8052, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Kyoto Station Hours: 09:00 - 17:30/ Sun 09:00 - 13:00 Phone: 075-221-1091 Website: Aritsugu Knife
13. Kokeshi Dolls
Traditional kokeshi ningyo, or Japanese dolls, make great little souvenirs for kids and adults alike. Originally meant to act as guardians for children, they are now widely seen as decorative items, for which their cutesy, very “Japanese” appearance is perfect. They come in a wide array of patterns and styles and can be found in stores across the city. One of the best, however, is the gift shop on the ground floor of the Kyoto Tower Hotel.
Address: 〒600-8216, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Kyoto Station Hours: 09:00 - 21:00 Admission: Free Phone: 075-361-3215 Website: Kyoto Tower
14. Yojiya’s Oil Blotting Sheet
Yojiya is a Kyoto cosmetics brand established in 1904. Their natural, organic products are popular all over Japan. Their blotting paper is especially sought after; a product used to deal with oily skin and perspiration made – incredibly – using the by-product of the process used to make gold-leaf. Beauty fans, this is the Kyoto souvenir for you. Yojiya also has a chain of cafes that are well worth checking out.
Address: 〒604-8042 Nakanocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Karasuma Station Hours: 11:00 - 19:00 Phone: 075-221-4626 Website: Yojiya
15. Kyoto International Manga Museum Souvenirs
The Kyoto Manga Museum was opened in 2006 as the first manga museum in Japan. It houses a collection of 300,000 manga titles which cover each wall of the three-story building. Most of the collection is in Japanese but English, French and Chinese readers are also catered to with over 5,000 titles. The gift shop, naturally, sells an excellent range of manga (many of which you won’t find elsewhere), as well as postcards, books and other items.
Address: 〒604-0846, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Karasuma Oike Station Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (Closed on Wednesday) Admission: 800 yen (adult) Phone: 075-254-7414 Website: Kyoto International Manga Museum
Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese cloth used for wrapping clothes, bento boxes, gifts and other goods. Furoshiki is a nicely practical souvenir to take home: reusable, multipurpose and light weight. They can be found in stores across Kyoto, but for the best quality, a specialist store named Kakefuda is your best bet.
Address: 〒605-0817, Takabatakechō 609, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Station: Kiyomizu-Gojo Station Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 Phone: 075-821-3230 Website: Kakefuda
17. Seven Spice Blend (Shichimi)
Shichimi is a common Japanese spice mixture used in soups, noodle dishes and rice bowls. Generally made using a blend of coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground Japanese pepper, roasted orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, hemp seeds, ground ginger and seaweed flakes, it is a flavour combination that can’t help but make you think of Japan. For the best stuff and the lowest prices, head to Nishiki Market.
18. Wooden Comb
Tsugegushi is the name given to Japanese boxwood combs, traditionally worn by geisha as hair decorations. A good, handmade tsugegushi costs roughly 70 dollars, but their durability and ability to maintain healthy hair make them well worth the expense. The best place to shop for tsugegushi is Gion or in Chidoriya, a traditional cosmetics store frequented by the city’s remaining geisha.
Address: 〒606-8405, Dojojikami-Minamidacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto Hours: 09:00 - 18:00/ Closed on Thursday Phone: 075-751-6650 Website: Chidoriya
19. Woodblock Prints
Kyoto has a reputation as being home to some of the country’s finest craftsmen. Woodblock printing is especially well represented in the city; an art synonymous with Japan as a whole. Take advantage of this at the Kyoto Handicraft Center, where visitors are able to shop for the beautiful handmade woodblock prints and similar items, all at affordable prices.
Address: 〒606-8323, 22-2 Shogoin Entomicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto Station: Jinggu-Marutamachi Station Hours: 09:00 - 17:30/ Sun 10:00 - 19:00 Phone: 075-761-8001 Website: Kyoto Handicraft Center
20. Kyoto Nijo Castle Souvenirs
Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as a residence for the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was given over to Kyoto city and opened up to the public. It is now recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site and has become one of Kyoto’s top sightseeing spots. At the castle’s gift shop, all manner of souvenirs commemorating the castle and Kyoto as a whole are available to purchase.
For more on Japanese castle, take a look at our pick of the top 15.
Address: 〒604-8301, 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyu ward, Kyoto Station: Nijojo-mae Station Hours: 09:00 - 17:30/ Sun 08:45 - 17:00 Phone: 075-841-0096 Website: Nijo Castle
Ayugashi, or waka-ayu, is a cute, fish shaped wagashi (traditional dessert) with a thin, crepe-like skin and a rice flour, sweet bean or matcha filling. Ayugashi are highly popular in Kyoto, especially in warm weather. They’re sold by street vendors and in stores across the city. If you’re struggling, you’re guaranteed to find them at any train station.
Kanzashi are traditional Japanese hair ornaments, often worn with a kimono. Typically made using lacquered wood, coral and crystals, they’re very decorative and highly prized by their owners. It can be a struggle to attach a kanzashi the first time, but typically instructions are provided to help you out. Ninen-zaka, a shop close to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, is perhaps the best play to shop for them.
23. Japanese Lucky Charms (Omamori)
Omamori, or Japanese lucky charms, are sold in every shrine and temple the length and breadth of the country. Often, they are kept in an individuals purse or wallet, or hung on the wall at home for good luck. Each shrine has its own omamori, with varying designs and meanings. The most famous omamori in Kyoto are sold at the Golden Temple and Fushimi Shrine.
Address: 〒603-8361, 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto Hours: 09:00 - 17:00 Admission: Adult - 400 yen; Middle/Elementary School Student - 300 yen Phone: 075-461-0013 Website: Kinkika-ji
24. Japanese Character and Animation Goods
If you’re a fan of Japanese animation and characters, Kyoto is a city after your heart. Kyoani, one of the largest animation studios in Japan, is headquartered in the city and has its own shop close to Kowata Station. Here, shop for anime merchandise of all kinds, much of which is exclusive to the store.
Address: 34-11 Uchihata, Uji, Kyoto Station: Kowata Station Phone: 0774-33-1106 Website: Kyoani Shop
25. Kyoto National Museum Souvenirs
The Kyoto National Museum is one of Japan’s major art museums and a definite must for any tourist. Its collection, predominantly focused on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art, is wonderful, as is the museum shop, Benrido, located by the South Gate. Here, find a good selection of art reproductions, postcards, books and limited edition goods from the temporary exhibitions.
Address: 527 Chayacho, Higashiyama, Kyoto Station: Shichijo Station Hours: Tue, Wed & Sun 09:30 - 17:00/Fri&Sat 09:30 - 20:00 (Closed on Monday) Admission: 520 yen Phone: 075-525-2473 Website: Kyohaku
26. Camellia Oil
Camellia oil is extracted from the seeds of the camellia flower and is used in a number of beauty products for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and revitalising properties. Kyoto is home to one of the world’s foremost retailers of camellia oil products, Kazurasei. The shop was founded in 1865 and is popular with Japanese celebrities and beauty fanatics alike. A practical, beautifying souvenir exclusive to Kyoto.
Address: 〒605-0073, 285 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama ward, Kyoto Hours: 10:00 - 19:00/ Closed on Wednesday Phone: 075-561-0672 Website: Kazurase
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