Recommended by a Kyoto Insider! Stroll on Teramachi Street and Discover Treasures
A self-proclaimed Kyoto lover, the writer of this article has visited Kyoto many times privately and for work. Kyoto is full of appeal as a tourist destination, but the writer particularly recommends shopping at Teramachi Street. If you are coming all the way to Kyoto, you’ll definitely want to purchase something special that you can only get there. However, you may not know where to go. That’s where this article comes in! It is full of fabulous products that are highly recommended by this knowledgeable writer.
Must-See Sections of the Street: the Area From Nijo to Marutamachi
Teramachi Street is a long street that runs north to south in the city of Kyoto. It can be divided into several sections.
The area between Teramachi Shijo and Teramachi Oike, as well as the quiet area to the east of the old imperial palace between Teramachi Marutamachi and Teramachi Imadegawa, are appealing for tourists. However, if you want to get fantastic Kyoto souvenirs, go to the section between Teramachi Oike and Teramachi Marutamachi.
This 800m stretch of the street is full of famous shops that are representative of Kyoto.
As a city steeped in tradition, many people in Kyoto have items that they “have been using for generations" or "always buy at a certain shop". In Kyoto, these long-beloved items and often frequented shops are referred to as "Homma-ni Ee-mon" (really good things). There are many of both at Teramachi Street.
In this article, the writer introduces four shops out of the many that they like and often visit to purchase “Homma-ni Ee-mon” at. These shops are brimming with the atmosphere of an old Kyoto store.
The article also showcases items at each shop that were specially introduced to the writer.
Furthermore, it touches on the beloved shines and temples at Teramachi Street that have made their way into the daily lives of the local residents.
A Variety of Washi and Original Paper Products ■Kamiji Kakimoto
Kamiji Kakimoto started off as a bamboo shop in 1716. It has been operating as a paper shop since 1845.
The first product to be introduced is the washi (Japanese paper) called Kikuban, which has dimensions of 630mm x 930mm. Machine-made ones are available at around 100 JPY to 300 JPY, while handmade ones are priced around 500 JPY to 1,000 JPY. There is a wide variety, making it fun to pick and choose.
This is a large piece of paper that can be used for decoration purposes or as wrapping paper to make a gift more gorgeous. This writer ends up purchasing several every time they go to the store!
The shop is spacious and laid out in a manner that allows customers to take their time picking from the wide selection of colorful washi and other stylish items available.
The papers photographed below are called Hashigami. They are the leftover pieces of washi that locals purchase for everyday use. These small pieces are convenient to use as things like book covers and are around 50 JPY to 150 JPY a piece.
The shop's recommended paper products are cards and letter sets with elegant patterns that remind one of Kyoto. They are perfect to use yourself or to give as gifts.
Hand-dyed greeting cards with flowers arranged for a Japanese tea ceremony. 540 JPY (incl. tax)/each.
Hand-dyed letter paper (cherry). 2,700 JPY (incl. tax).
You'll be surprised by the diversity and possibilities of paper! For example, they even have items like paper tableware.
Address: Teramachi-dori Nijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Closed: Sunday, National Holidays
Aromatic, Flavorful Tea That Kyoto People Love ■Ippodo Tea Co.
Possessing the tea-making area of Uji and a thriving tea ceremony industry, Kyoto is a city with high-quality tea.
The main branch of Ippodo Tea Co. – a Japanese tea store that was founded approximately 300 years ago in 1717 – is located in this city.
Ippodo teas are available around the country at locations like department stores, but there is something special about shopping at the main store, which has the distinguished feel of a long-established Japanese store and is filled with the aroma of tea. This is a feeling that the writer shares, too.
There is a wide selection of teas available, ranging from Kyo Bancha tea for everyday use to the highest-quality matcha (green tea) for tea ceremonies, so let a salesperson know details like "when, how, and with whom" you want to have the tea with and "who" you want to gift the tea to. They will help you select the perfect tea.
Photo provided by Ippodo Tea Co.
The sencha (non-powdered green tea) in a can with a striking yellow label is available starting from 1,620 JPY. The Kaboku line that has a distinct aroma is the writer's favorite and is 3,240 JPY for a small can. If you want to enjoy your tea without fuss or want to gift tea to someone unfamiliar with Japanese tea, go for their assortment of tea bags.
The Hajime no Ippodo (5,400 JPY) is well worth mentioning. It is a starter kit that includes a tea whisk, bamboo tea spoon, tea cup, matcha, a card with an explanation of how to use each tool and make tea in both English and Japanese, and an Ippodo brand tea towel. As long as you have hot water and this set, you’ll be able to enjoy matcha!
The writer gave this as a gift to a friend living abroad, who was delighted with it.
The main store on Teramachi Street also has the Kaboku Tea Room, where guests can make and enjoy their own tea. It also acts as a space for lectures on tea, so you can learn about Japanese tea and Japanese tea culture.
The Kaboku Tea Room is very popular, so if you plan to go, try to get there as early as possible.
Photo provided by Ippodo Tea Co.
Metal Crafts That Combine Refined Beauty and Functionality ■Seikado
Seikado, which started as a tin shop during the late Edo period in 1838, is a great place to purchase something special for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
The showcases are full of a variety of crafts made with metals like tin, bronze, and silver. It looks like an actual gallery!
All of their products are outstanding items that are individually made using traditional techniques. They become better the more they are used, so they can be handed down from generation to generation.
As the products are metal crafts, many of them are quite pricey, but there are affordable items like small sake cups that can be used for other purposes, incense holders that are great for when you want a bit of tranquility, and netsuke (miniature carvings used in place of pockets in the past) that many foreigners adore.
Photo provided by Seikado
Tin sake cups with feet. 5,400 JPY/each.
Photo provided by Seikado
Silver incense holder on a glass pond. 12,960 JPY.
Photo provided by Seikado
The Kyo-yaki ceramic tea leaf case with a tin lid is decorated with Choju-giga (caricatures of birds and wild animals) and is available for 17,280 JPY. It was made under the supervision of Seikado.
There are often exhibits of works by metal craft artists at the back of the store, so be sure to check it out if there is one when you visit.
The artwork is exhibited in the storage room, tea room, and Japanese-style room, so you can also take in the architecture of a traditional Kyoto merchant house.
There was an exhibit by a female artist when the author visited to write this article. The author fell in love with a sake cup and purchased it right there. The possibility of such unexpected encounters is one of the appeals of this shop.
Address: 462 Myomanjimae-cho, Teramachi-dori Nijo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
No holidays (except the beginning and end of the year)
Kyoto Brushes Handmade by Skilled Craftsmen Using Traditional Techniques ■Ryushido
At Ryushido – a brush store that was established in 1781 – you can purchase Kyo-fude (Kyoto brushes) made by skilled craftsmen.
This is a great place to not only discover fantastic products, but also to experience the wonder of Japanese brushes.
This is the only place to purchase Kyo-fude, so there are many people that come from afar just to visit them, including professional calligraphers.
If there is anything you want to know about brushes, ask the ninth-generation owner. You will not only be impressed by his knowledge, but also by his passion for brushes.
Believing that “anyone will understand the appeal of Kyo-fude when they try using one”, there are test brushes in-store. Apparently, an American painter recently fell in love with Kyo-fude after trying it in-store and purchased a large number to take home.
There is a variety of brush types and prices, but many people come for the collector's brushes, available in a limited quantity, that were passed down from the previous owner.
Their high-quality brushes, which are popular among overseas artists, come with simple English descriptions.
This is a wonderful place to experience the beauty of Japanese brushes.
Anyone who visits this store is sure to want to try using Japanese brushes, even if they are not familiar with them.
Address: 717 Yohojimae-cho, Teramachi-dori Nijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm (from 10:00 am on Sundays and National Holidays)
No holidays (except December 31 and January 1)
Visit a Shrine and Temple as Well ■Shimogoryo Shrine and Kodo Gyogan-ji
Why not follow the locals and casually drop by shrines and temples to pay your respects in-between shopping?
This shrine has long been famous for the quality of its well water, with many people coming from afar just to taste it. The writer always stops by to taste the water when visiting Teramachi Street.
The writer's favorite items to pick up at the shrine are the Laughing Lion-Dog Ema (plaques you write wishes on) and Treasure Boat, which you place under your pillow to have good dreams.
Stop by the shrine office after paying your respects to find out what these items are like!
Address: Teramachi-dori Marutamachi-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Gates open: 6:00 am; Gates close: 8:00 pm
Office: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
This famous temple is the 19th temple in the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage (pilgrimage of 33 Buddhist temples across the Kansai region).
Many people don't know about this, but the Japanese sweets store, Shichijo Kanshun-do sell temple snack associated with Kodo Gyogan-ji called Kyo no Ki . Sometimes, like at peak tourist seasons of spring and autumn, they even sell it within the temple precinct.
These are Fuyaki Sembei (rice crackers). It costs 700 JPY for a set of three with etches of the temple’s lanterns, deer, and seasonal motifs. Though they are common in Kyoto, people trying them for the first time will be surprised by how light they are!
Address: Gyoganji Monzen-cho, Teramachi-dori Takeyacho-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Located between Oike and Marutamachi, Teramachi Street may seem quiet at first. However, once you walk through it, you’ll be surprised by how many long-established stores and unique attractions it holds. Next time you are in Kyoto, be sure to walk down Teramachi Street and discover your own favorite spot. It is easily accessed from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station on the subway, as well as from the following bus stops: Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae, Kawaramachi Nijo, and Kawaramachi Marutamachi.
Hazuki is a food and travel writer. Her policy is to travel around Japan and write articles that reveal the appeal of each area. Her specialty is her hometown, Kyoto. She is knowledgeable about the traditions and established stores in Kyoto and hopes to communicate the appeal of this traditional city to readers in Japan and abroad.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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