The Best Places to Shop in Kyoto

For all the serenity of Kyoto’s temples, few visitors to the city can resist shopping. In fact, the spare and elegant design of the temples may inspire a person to reform their ways to be more calm and mindful. Find traditional crafts, modern housewares, chic clothing, whiskey, handmade paper, and more in the shops and boutiques of Kyoto.

Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
D&Department, a youthful shop housed in a 13th-century Bukkoji temple, focuses on designer housewares, kitchen goods, and foods. Conceived by Kenmei Nagaoka, a professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design, and his students, the store sells products such as sturdy tea mugs and glass tokkuri (Japanese sake sets), and highlights specialty, small-batch food producers whom they’ve met in person. The result is a special range of sesame seed oils, additive-free pickles, and heirloom misos and soys. D&Department will occasionally include imported products that adhere to the founders’ ethos, such as durable Freitag bags from Switzerland, which are made from recycled truck tarps.

There’s a lot of tourists Instagram-browsing in Kyoto’s famed Nishiki Market shops, which hawk salt-pickled cherry blossoms, barrels of other pickled vegetables, and takoyaki (fried octopus balls). But step off the bustling main drag and into this legendary knife shop to discover a rarefied world of chefs deliberating over blue steel boning knives with magnolia handles, or 12-inch Japanese alloy with rosewood and water buffalo horn. The tiny shop is chockful of handmade blades and cutting utensils gleaming like evidence behind glass cases. But Aritsugu is principally known for its custom-made knives, especially popular with lefties. The shop will also engrave your name or initials on your blade for free via the revolving whetstone behind the counter.
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