SHOYEIDO INCENSE CO.
The myriad of options available means that you could really get lost when choosing souvenirs to purchase in Kyoto. Here are 10 souvenirs that are recommended for their usefulness and beautiful design that’ll make you want to use them forever!
- 1. Incense from Shoyeido
- 2. Cosmetics from Yojiya
- 3. Woodblock Prints and Smartphone Cases from Takezasado
- 4. Bamboo Products from Kohchosai Kosuga
- 5. Collaboration Soaps from Kyoto Shabonya
- 6. Handmade Coffee Dripper from Tsujiwa Kanaami
- 7. Postcards and Masking Tape from Unsodo
- 8. Coffee Cans of Kaikado
- 9. Bags from Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu
- 10. Postcards from Kyukyodo
1. Incense from Shoyeido
Shoyeido is a specialty incense shop with a long history that dates back to its establishment in 1705. It sells various products, including incense that is used for religious events and tea ceremonies, as well as the regular kind of incense that you can easily enjoy at home. The Tagasode Miyako - Large (972 JPY (incl. tax) per piece), which is incense tucked inside a Kyoto traditional cloth bag with gold brocade, is a highly recommended souvenir. It has a refreshing aroma that mildly lingers. The stick-type incense set, HORIN Kyo-gosai (1,296 JPY (incl. tax)), is also popular. With sandalwood as a base, it has a scent that’ll really remind you of Japan.
SHOYEIDO INCENSE CO.
SHOYEIDO INCENSE CO.
2. Cosmetics from Yojiya
Yojiya is a famous cosmetics brand in Kyoto. Its signature product is the Oil-blotting Facial Paper (prices start at 330 JPY (excl. tax) for a set of 20 sheets), which has become a staple Kyoto souvenir. Made with special Japanese paper that has an elaborate construction, it gently removes excess oil from the skin. Yojiya carries many other cosmetic products as well, especially skincare and body care. Another recommended product is the Solid Perfume (1,500 JPY (excl. tax)). Its fruity and floral fragrance is perfect for an everyday look.
Oil-blotting Facial Paper
Visit the Kiyomizu Branch
Yojiya has a lot of stores in Japan, with most of them located in Kyoto. Out of all of them, it is highly recommended for tourists to visit the Kiyomizu branch. Aside from being easy to visit in the middle of sightseeing around all the famous tourist spots, such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple (World Heritage Site), this branch also has staff who can speak English and Chinese. They even have a guidebook with product explanations (such as their characteristics and how to use them) in English, Chinese, Thai, and Korean. It stocks all of the brand’s standard products, but also offers many products with its original logo of the popular Yojiya Cafe, which customers love for its pop design.
3. Woodblock Prints and Smartphone Cases from Takezasado
Founded in 1891, Takezasado is a shop run by Takenaka Mokuhan, which has been passing on the ancient “woodblock printing (※)” technique for generations. It is housed in a 100-year-old machiya (traditional wooden house), with the first floor serving as the sales space and the second floor as the workshop.
The shop carries a wide array of products, ranging from original woodblocks and ukiyo-e prints, as well as stationery and other sundries. If you are looking for a souvenir, then a woodblock print is definitely recommended. The work in the image is the Tanaka Kenji-saku "Gion" (5,400 JPY (incl. tax)). It depicts Gion, which is one of the representative sightseeing areas of Kyoto.
Smartphone cases in a wide range of designs are also popular at this shop. Shown in the photo is the MOKUHAN iPhone Case “Macaron” (prices start at 3,456 JPY (incl. tax)). The woodblock print on the case turns the design into a fusion of pop and traditional Japan.
(※) A traditional printing technique wherein characters and drawings are engraved on a wooden block by hand. The engraved design is transferred onto paper through rubbing.
4. Bamboo Products from Kohchosai Kosuga
Founded in 1898, Kohchosai Kosuga is a famous brand of bamboo crafts that is popular not only in Japan, but also around the world. It offers a wide range of products made from bamboo, which has been utilized by the Japanese since long ago. Kitchen utensils like the Tongs L (864 JPY (incl. tax)) and Minotake Spatula (2,376 JPY (incl. tax)) are recommended as souvenirs. Bamboo does not get hot to the touch, and it is also light and durable, making it great in terms of both design and ease of use.
5. Collaboration Soaps from Kyoto Shabonya
Operating under the concept of “Made in Kyoto”, this shop sells various soaps that use ingredients rooted in Kyoto. These soaps are carefully made by expert artisans, and they make sure that the components used are all natural. It is recommended to purchase their series of soaps created in collaboration with various Kyoto companies and temples.
The Gofun Sekken (90g/1,800 JPY (incl. tax)) that was made in collaboration with Ueba Esou – the oldest specialty store for painting supplies that was founded in 1751 – incorporates “gofun” (white pigment from scallop shells), which is traditionally used in paint. It makes the skin beautiful and white like the skin of a maiko (apprentice geisha).
Ueba Esou Official Homepage (Japanese only)
The Savon de Ku (70g/1,500 JPY (incl. tax)) is the result of collaborating with Taizo-in Temple – an over 600-year-old sub-temple of Myoshin-ji Temple, which is the biggest Zen temple in Japan. It has a mild fragrance and has ingredients like natural cypress from Kyoto as a base. The marble design, which utilizes bamboo charcoal from Kyoto, is inspired from a Zen image.
UEBAESOU CO., LTD.
Taizoin Zen Buddhist Temple
6. Handmade Coffee Dripper from Tsujiwa Kanaami
Tsujiwa Kanaami specializes in wire mesh products, which are handmade by craftsmen, who weave the thin wires together. It mostly produces and sells different kinds of cooking utensils and household goods. Its products are popular because of their delicate beauty and ease of use that you won’t find in mass-produced goods. The Te-ami Coffee Dripper (handwoven coffee dripper) (5,400 JPY (incl. tax)) is the recommended souvenir here. Designed so that hot water flows toward the center, this dripper properly extracts the delicious flavors of coffee. It can also be used for steaming, as it releases air well.
7. Postcards and Masking Tape from Unsodo
Unsodo is a long-established publisher of art books and is also known as a woodblock print shop. It sells woodblock prints, as well as various goods that are designed based on famous woodblock prints. If you are looking for a souvenir, then the Hokusai Hagaki Set (Hokusai postcard set) (1,728 JPY (incl. tax)) that adopts the works of Katsushika Hokusai – a master artist of Japan – is recommended. Another popular item is the Masking Tape (540 JPY (incl. tax)), which incorporates the beautiful designs from Japanese paper.
8. Coffee Cans of Kaikado
Established in 1875, Kaikado is the oldest seller of handmade tea caddies in Japan. They sell their products not only in Japan, but also in countries like the U.K. and France. Their products have been gaining a lot of attention from celebrities. The way they make their products hasn’t changed – everything is still made by hand. They offer several other products, and some that are great as souvenirs are the Coffee Can (copper/with spoon/200g for 23,220 JPY (incl. tax)) and Pasta Container (brass/with pasta measure/small 1kg for 23,328 JPY (incl. tax)). Their caddies and containers are made of copper, brass, and tin, and they tend to deepen in luster and color the more you use them.
9. Bags from Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu
Even after more than 100 years since its establishment in 1905, Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu still has all of its bags handmade by craftsmen. The bags are made out of canvas (cotton or hemp), which is sturdy and durable. Totes, shoulder bags, rucksacks, and various other bags in many different designs and patterns are made and sold here. Great in both durability and design, its bags are must-buys!
Sample price: H25 x W31 x D18cm Tote (9,500 JPY (excl. tax))
10. Postcards from Kyukyodo
Kyukyodo is a well-established shop with a long history that dates back to 1663. It sells a variety of goods, such as incense, writing implements like brushes and inks, and Japanese paper crafts. However, their note cards, postcards, and envelopes are what’s recommended as souvenirs. This shop carries a lot of products with beautiful designs, centering on those made from washi (Japanese paper) with an extremely pleasant texture.
Sample price: Hagaki Silk Insatsu So-gara (silk-printed postcard with designs all over) (129 JPY (incl. tax) per piece)
This article showcases a list of souvenirs that can cheer you up just by holding them. If you ever visit Kyoto, make sure to get them!
*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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