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7 Best Areas for Shopping in Kyoto: Where to Shop & What to Buy

7 Best Areas for Shopping in Kyoto: Where to Shop & What to Buy

Date published: 19 July 2023

Kyoto, where the traditional meets the modern, is one of the best cities to shop in Japan. It’s the place where you can buy traditional snacks at the market and also at department stores; where you can get kimonos from thrift shops and also bespoke kimonos fitted specially for you; you’ll be able to shop to your heart’s content no matter what you’re looking for.

Main image: PIXTA

Table of Contents
  1. Tips to make your shopping trip the most enjoyable one yet
  2. Best areas for shopping in Kyoto
  3. Other notable shops in Kyoto
  4. Recommended tours
  5. Special Kyoto Coupons & Discounts

Tips to make your shopping trip the most enjoyable one yet

Kyoto is a city perfect for walking. Most of the major shopping areas in the city are within walking distance away from one another, so make a day just for shopping, and enjoy all that Kyoto has to offer in one go. Don’t forget to also be green and bring your own shopping bag, as most places charge for bags

Must-Buy Souvenirs in Kyoto

Kyoto is a great place to shop for traditional sweets and souvenirs (Photo: PIXTA)
Kyoto is a great place to shop for traditional sweets and souvenirs (Photo: PIXTA)

Since Kyoto is considered to be Japan’s cultural capital, you can find plenty of shops selling a range of traditional items and foods.

Some ideas for your shopping list include:
  • Kyo-shikki (Kyoto lacquerware)
  • Washi (traditional Japanese paper)
  • Japanese knives
  • Kimono (new & used)
  • Kyoto Damascene Jewelry
  • Woodblock prints
  • Incense
  • Green tea
  • Traditional sweets (such as yatsuhashi)
  • Sake
  • Cosmetics and oil-blotting sheets

Tax-Free Shopping in Kyoto

In general, Tax Free in Japan is offered when the goods total above 5,000 yen, and at shops with a “Japan Tax-Free” sticker. At these shops, all non-residents, or foreigners who do not live in Japan or have an active Japan address, will be able to enjoy tax-free shopping. Don’t forget to bring your passport.

Best areas for shopping in Kyoto

1. Shijo-dori, Kyoto’s street for all-in-one shopping and entertainment

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Right in the middle of Kyoto running from East with Yasaka Shrine, and Matsuno Shrine to the West, Shijo-dori’s name derived from its status as the fourth street of ancient Japan. Busy all day every day with locals and tourists alike, Shijo-dori, with its easy access and proximity to tourist sites, is a place not to be missed.

What to buy here: From major brands to Japanese fashion brands, you’ll be able to buy everything you’ll want from head to toe. Shijo-dori has all the major stores on one street. From the west, near Shijo Station, you'll find lifestyle goods shop Tokyu Hands, while on the eastern side toward Kawaramachi, you'll find department stores like Takashimaya and Marui, plus fashion buildings like Kawaramachi OPA. And if you prefer street shopping, watch lovers need to check out Seiko Boutique, where you can find watches limited to Japan and also rare models, while vintage lovers cannot miss Decouverte Kyoto. There are also a variety of used and antique kimono shops in this area, too.

Tip: Shijo-dori gets really crowded on the weekends. Go on a weekday to shop comfortably. A portion of Shoji-dori is also near the Kamogawa River, as well as Gion, Kyoto’s Geisha district. Put in some time for sightseeing as well.

Nearest Metro: Connected directly to Karasuma Station and Shijo Station

  • Shijo-dori
    四条通
    • Address Naginatabokocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8008

2. Kawaramachi Shopping Street: From department stores to Don Quijote

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Kawaramachi Shopping Street in downtown Kyoto is perhaps the most popular arcade in Kyoto. Kawaramachi dates back nearly 300 years ago, and you can still catch bits and pieces of Kyoto’s history with signs erected around the area to bring attention to historical sites. Kawaramachi Shopping Street stretches north along Kawaramachi-dori at its intersection with Shijo-dori.

What to buy here: With everything you will ever want all under one long roof, if you’re hoping to score a yukata or kimono this trip, it’s a great place to start. If you're looking for Japanese sweets and smaller souvenirs, check out Don Quijote Kyoto Shijo Kawaramachi. For anime lovers, be sure to check out Guf Kyoto, which is roughly in the vicinity. And for incense and Buddhist images, be sure to visit Yoshida Gennojo-Roho, a shop whose roots trace back to 1572.

Tip: Shijo Kawaramachi, as the name suggests, is very near Shijo-dori, and Nishiki Market. Make a day out of exploring the area, and walk Kyoto’s third and fourth avenue end to end if you can.

Nearest Metro: Short walk away from Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station

3. Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades: Will you go East or West?

3. Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades: Will you go East or West?

Teramachi and Shinkyogoku are covered walkways and shopping arcades located between Shijo and Sanjo avenues in central Kyoto. Go west for Shinkyogoku, and to the west is Teramachi.

These two covered shopping arcades are located parallel to each other and offer a mix of modern and traditional shopping options. You can find fashion stores, art galleries, shoe shops, bookstores, specialty shops, and many souvenir shops ranging from the quirky to the delicious.

Shinkyogoku Shopping District is a covered shopping arcade originally established in 1872. It's lined with specialty stores selling souvenirs, shoes, umbrellas, T-shirts, yukata, confectionaries, character goods, and more.

  • Kyoto Shinkyogoku Shopping Street
    新京極商店街
    • Address 438-1 Sakuranocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8035
    • Nearest Station Kyoto-Kawaramachi (Hankyu Line) or Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae (Kyoto Subway Tozai Line)

Teramachi, aptly named “temple town,” is home to tons of shops selling religious goods. Dating back to the 16th century, many of the city’s temples were moved to Teramachi by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi to consolidate and control the temples. You’ll still be able to find a lot of these remnants of Kyoto’s history as Japan’s capital here in the streets, while browsing through the many interesting wares that the stores offer. For those who love thrift shops, they can also be found along Teramachi as well.

  • Compasso Teramachi (Teramachi Kyogoku Shopping Arcade)
    寺町京極商店街
    • Address Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8003
    • Nearest Station Kyoto-Kawaramachi (Hankyu Line) or Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae (Kyoto Subway Tozai Line)

4. Nishiki Market, the kitchen of Kyoto

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Just a block north of Shijo-dori is Nishiki Market, also known as the Kitchen of Kyoto. Dating back to the 8th century, the 390 meters-long food market sells everything from seasonal products and fresh produce to desserts and obanzai (traditional small dishes from Kyoto) Head to Nishiki Market for your fill of different food products from Kyoto, in particular Kyoto pickles, or Kyotsukemono, and Japanese tea. Kyotsukemono are made of vegetables grown in Kyoto, and pickled with minimal salt so the natural sweetness of vegetables are allowed to shine through. These pickles are the perfect accompaniment with rice, and as a snack to pair with your drink.

Kyoto’s connection with tea dates back nearly 800 years, with aristocrats and statesmen developing a love for tea from Uji, with tea plantations today that still date back to that era. One of the main teas produced in Kyoto is matcha, so be sure to check out the tons of tea shops in Nishiki Market to get some for yourself.

What to buy here: Tea, Kyoto food sourvenirs

Tip: There is no haggling allowed at this market. Prices are final, and shopkeepers will take offense at haggling attempts. There are also tons of things to sample around the market. If you’re unsure of what you’ll like, have a little taste before buying.

Nearest Metro: 5 minutes’ walk away from Shijo Station

5. Last-minute shopping? Check out the Kyoto Station area

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Kyoto Station, apart from being the major Shinkansen hub in Kyoto, is where the department stores and electronics stores are at. Connected to the station is department store Isetan and shopping center Porta, where all food souvenirs from different regions of Kyoto and all kinds of tea imaginable are available. Most food shops can also be found there, including the famed Tsujiri tea shop, Kyoto’s famous dessert Yatsuhashi, and multiple matcha cake options, and also colorful traditional candy Konpeito to name a few. Perfect for some last-minute shopping, this is also where swarms of people rushing to get last-minute snacks and desserts head to for everything.

For electronics lovers, two of Japan's giant chain electronics stores, Yodobashi Camera and BicCamera, are also around the station. With everything you might need or ever want, these stores will have you buying all of the newest tech you can ever want, with tax-free options to boot.

Finally, a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station’s Hachijo entrance is Aeon Mall Kyoto, a large shopping complex offering everything from daily items to travel accessories and souvenirs.

Tip: Kyoto Station is also right across the street from Kyoto Tower, also one of the best places to enjoy the view throughout the day.

Nearest station: Kyoto Station

  • Kyoto Station Building
    • Address Kyoto Station Building, 901 Higashishiokoji-cho, Shiokoji-dori, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 600-8216
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kyoto Station (JR Tokaido Line / JR Biwako Line / JR Tokaido Shinkansen / JR Kyoto Line / JR Sagano Line / JR San-in Line / JR Nara Line / Karasuma Line / Kintetsu-kyoto Line)
    • Phone Number 075-361-4401
  • The Cube
    • Address Kyoto Station building, 901, Higashishiokojicho, Karasuma-dori Shiokoji-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 600-8216
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kyoto Station (JR Tokaido Line / JR Biwako Line / JR Tokaido Shinkansen / JR Kyoto Line / JR Sagano Line / JR San-in Line / JR Nara Line / Karasuma Line / Kintetsu-kyoto Line)
    • Phone Number 075-371-2134

6. Kiyomizu-Zaka / Sannen-Zaka / Ninen-Zaka

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

These streets lead up to the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple and are lined with traditional shops and restaurants. Here you’ll also find Shoyeido Incense Co., a venerable incense company established in 1705. The store boasts a diverse range of incense products. And Yojiya, a cosmetic products store boasting an original product called Abura-torigami (facial oil blotting paper), which was born out of Kyoto women’s pursuit of and wisdom about beautiful skin.

Tip: You'll also find lots of shops selling a variety of souvenirs, from sweets to ceramics here as well.

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station (Keihan Railway)

7. Arashiyama Shopping Street

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Arashiyama Shopping Street in Kyoto is a treasure trove of souvenirs and an essential destination for sightseers. With its proximity to the iconic Togetsu-kyo Bridge, enchanting bamboo forest, and captivating temples and shrines, it attracts crowds of visitors year-round. As you stroll along the bustling shopping street, you'll discover a myriad of delightful souvenir shops selling everything from confectionery to cute trinkets. It's also a great place to come for snacks and street food.

Nearest stations: Arashiyama Station (Randen); JR Saga-Arashiyama Station

Other notable shops in Kyoto

Kyoto Handicraft Center

For craft lovers, head down to Kyoto Handicraft Center, where they stock over 1,000 different craft items and products for sale. This includes things such as lacquerware, art pieces, and home decor. You can also see artisans at work here, as well as choose from a variety of different experiential workshops such as kimono rental, woodblock painting, tea ceremony. The largest souvenir and crafts store in Kyoto, it’s a place you cannot miss.

Tip: Be sure to bring your passport, as the place also offers tax-free services for all items.

Nearest Metro: 5 minutes away from Jingumarutamachi Station

Kyoto ShinPuhKan

Kyoto’s ShinPuhKan mall is housed in a classic building from the Taisho era, and is a landmark of the Karasuma Oike Station neighborhood. Taking full advantage of the historic architecture, the complex includes a hotel, movie theater, and shops that debut original Kansai and limited edition products that combine new tastes with traditional Kyoto sensibilities.

  • ShinPuhKan
    新風館
    • Address 586-2 Karasumadori Aneyakoji-sagaru banocho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8172
    • Nearest Station Karasuma Oike Station (Kyoto Subway Karasuma and Tozai lines)

Recommended tours

Special Kyoto Coupons & Discounts

LIVE JAPAN readers can get special savings at select shops in Kyoto using the following coupons.

1. BicCamera
BicCamera is a major electronics retailer in Japan known for its extensive selection of electronics, cameras, home appliances, and other gadgets, and it also provides tax-free shopping options for tourists. Enjoy a 10% tax exemption followed by discounts on various items (3% to 7% off, some exclusions). Show the image at the counter to claim the discounted price.

2. Don Quijote
Don Quijote is a popular discount store chain in Japan offering a wide range of products, including electronics, cosmetics, clothing, and souvenirs, with stores located all over the country. Now when shopping at Don Quijote, you can get up to 15% off your purchase! Just tap the coupon below and show it to the cashier when checking out. (Conditions apply. See coupon page for details.)

Written by:

Chehui Peh

Chehui Peh

With over 10 years of experience as a writer and marketer, Chehui writes extensively about travel, lifestyle, and food. Traveling is a part of her lifestyle, and she travels every chance she gets with the goal to explore all corners of Japan, no matter how difficult it is to get to. Graduated with a Masters of Anthropology from Waseda University and worked as a freelance journalist at Shanghai Daily for over 4 years, before branching out to travel journalism and contributing to Travel + Leisure and other renowned platforms. She holds certifications in Japanese Tea Ceremony, and Wine. On Instagram: @chelikestotravel.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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