If you’re planning to visit Kyoto, you’ll definitely want to take home some memorable souvenirs. Thankfully, Kyoto is a treasure trove of unique and traditional gifts that are sure to impress your loved ones. From delicate ceramic tea sets to bottles of sake, to Japanese sweets, there’s something for everyone.
Traditional Kyoto souvenirs
Kyoto is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, and traditional souvenirs are the perfect way to bring a piece of this heritage home with you.
One popular traditional Kyoto souvenir is Kiyomizu-yaki pottery. Named after the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple, this pottery is known for its vibrant colors and intricate designs. Whether it’s a teapot, a sake set, or a decorative plate, Kiyomizu-yaki pottery is a true work of art.
Another traditional Kyoto souvenir that shouldn’t be missed is washi paper products. Washi paper is handmade from the bark of the mulberry tree and is known for its strength and beauty. From notebooks and stationery to origami paper and lanterns, washi paper products make for unique and elegant gifts.
Kyoto food souvenirs
No trip to Kyoto is complete without indulging in its delectable food. Luckily, there are plenty of food souvenirs that you can take home with you to savor the flavors of Kyoto long after your trip is over.
One of the most iconic Kyoto food souvenirs is nama yatsuhashi. These delicate sweets are made from soft mochi wrapped around sweet red bean paste, and come in a variety of flavors, such as matcha green tea, cinnamon, and strawberry. Nama yatsuhashi is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and it’s the perfect gift for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Another must-have food souvenir from Kyoto is Kyoto-style pickles (tsukemono). Made from a variety of vegetables, these pickles are known for their tangy and savory flavors. They make for a great accompaniment to rice dishes or as a topping for sandwiches. Packaged in beautiful jars, Kyoto-style pickles are both delicious and visually appealing.
For a real treat, a bottle of Kyoto sake makes for an excellent souvenir. Kyoto is home to many fantastic sake breweries, and you can find a wide variety of sake flavors to suit your taste, from dry and crisp to sweet and fruity.
Kyoto handicraft souvenirs
Kyoto is a haven for artisans, and you’ll find a plethora of handicraft souvenirs that showcase their skill and creativity.
Small and easy to pack, some hand-carved chopsticks might just make a beautiful choice. You can find these in a variety of different stores, including larger chain stores like Tokyu Hands and LOFT. Some stores even offer the option to personalize your chopsticks with an engraving of a name.
For a slightly higher budget option, you may want to consider a folding fan. Though you can easily find cheaper versions in many stores, Kyoto is also home to several long-standing fan-makers that create beautiful hand-painted fans with intricate designs. They’re beautiful works of art, but also highly practical on hot summer days in Japan!
Unique Kyoto souvenirs
One unique Kyoto souvenir that you won’t find anywhere else is some aromatic Kyoto incense. Kyoto has a long history of incense making, and the city is known for its high-quality and fragrant incense. A small box of incense sticks or a decorative incense holder is a space-saving souvenir, but the sensory experience when you light it can transport you back to the city.
And of course, if you’re a tea lover, a visit to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without bringing home some high-quality Kyoto green tea. Kyoto is known for its tea production, and you’ll find a wide range of teas to choose from, such as matcha, sencha, and hojicha. Packaged in beautiful tins or bags, Kyoto green tea is not only delicious but also a great way to experience the city’s tea culture.
Where to buy Kyoto souvenirs
Now that you know what Kyoto souvenirs to look out for, the next question is where to buy them. Luckily, Kyoto is filled with shops and markets that offer a wide range of souvenirs to suit every taste and budget.
One popular shopping street in Kyoto is Nishiki Market. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” Nishiki Market is a bustling street lined with shops selling fresh produce, seafood, snacks, and souvenirs. Here, you’ll find a wide range of Kyoto food souvenirs, such as namayatsuhashi, pickles, and local snacks. Don’t forget to explore the side streets and alleyways, as hidden gems can often be found just around the corner.
For those looking for traditional handicraft souvenirs, the Higashiyama District is the place to go. This historic neighborhood is home to many traditional craft shops and boutiques, where you’ll find everything from kimono and fans to lacquerware and Kyo-yuzen dyed products.
If you’re looking for something more modern and trendy, you’ll want to head either to the Kyoto Station Building, which is home to many shops and department stores, or to Kyoto’s downtown Karasuma and Kawaramachi areas. The streets of Shijo-dori and and Kawaramachi-dori are lined with trendy, modern shops, and the shopping streets of Teramachi and Shimogyoku, which run perpendicular to Kawaramchi-dori, are also perfect stops if you’re looking to find a wide variety of souvenir options in one place.
Budget-friendly Kyoto souvenirs
If you’re on a budget but still want to bring home a piece of Kyoto, don’t worry. There are plenty of budget-friendly souvenirs that are both affordable and unique.
One budget-friendly Kyoto souvenir is a pack of Kyoto postcards. Available in many shops and markets, you can find postcards that feature not only photographs, but beautiful traditional illustrations of Kyoto’s famous landmarks and scenery.
For those with a sweet tooth, a box of Kyoto-style sweets is another budget-friendly option. Sweets like nama yatsuhashi and matcha-flavored chocolates are available in various sizes and price ranges, making them a great choice for those looking to bring home a taste of Kyoto without breaking the bank.
Of course, you can also visit the 100 yen store (Japan’s equivalent of a dollar store) for some fun, and remarkably quality items! Japan’s most well-known 100 yen store, DAISO, can be found near Kyoto Station, and also in two locations in Kawaramachi.
Eco-friendly Kyoto souvenirs
If you’re conscious about the environment and want to choose souvenirs that are sustainable and eco-friendly, Kyoto has plenty of options for you.One fantastic and traditional eco-friendly Kyoto souvenir is a reusable furoshiki cloth. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that can be used for carrying items, wrapping gifts, or even as a decorative wall hanging. Made from various materials, such as cotton or silk, furoshiki cloths are not only practical but also a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bags.
Another eco-friendly souvenir option is a bamboo item. Bamboo is a renewable resource that grows quickly and requires little water or pesticides to thrive. From bamboo utensils and cutlery to bamboo fiber clothing and accessories, there are many bamboo products available in Kyoto that are both stylish and sustainable.
If you’re a tea lover, consider buying loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags. Tea bags often contain plastic and are not biodegradable, whereas loose-leaf tea allows you to enjoy a high-quality cup of tea without the waste. Many tea shops in Kyoto offer a wide range of loose-leaf teas, so you’ll have no trouble finding one that suits your taste.