10 Best Souvenirs from Kyoto

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Writer’s Profile

Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

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Kyoto, Japan’s enchanting heart of heritage, culture, and tradition, beckons travelers with its rich selection of authentic entertainment and beauty. While you savor the city’s profound charm, be sure to savor the essence of Kyoto through its distinctive souvenirs. From masterfully crafted treasures to delectable delights, we’ve handpicked ten must-have items that will allow you to encapsulate the magic of Kyoto and carry it back home. Dive into this captivating journey as we unravel the intricacies of each souvenir, guiding you on a memorable exploration of Japan’s ancient capital.

1. Kimono

Saitama Trip Silk Meisen Museum Kimono

Experience Kyoto’s timeless elegance by donning a traditional Kimono. Numerous shops in the Gion district offer Kimono rental services, complete with hairstyling and accessories. By adorning yourself in this exquisite attire, you not only immerse yourself in Kyoto’s rich culture but also become a part of its living history. Capture the beauty of Kyoto by wearing a kimono and exploring its historic streets. This is truly a unique and impressive gift to bring someone from Japan; levels of intricacy and deep cultural importance make up this impressive attire.

Looking for a Kimono Experience? Check out Kimono Rental Shops in Japan!

2. Green Tea

As you step into Kyoto, immerse yourself in the centuries-old tradition of green tea, an integral part of Japanese culture. Kyoto is renowned for producing some of the finest green teas in the world, including Uji Matcha and Gyokuro. To fully appreciate this art, venture into traditional tea houses like Fukujuen in Gion. There, you can partake in tea ceremonies and sample a diverse array of green teas, from the subtly sweet to the robustly bitter. To bring the taste of Kyoto home, don’t forget to pick up some loose tea leaves or tea bags from these revered establishments.

3. Yatsuhashi

Indulge your taste buds with Yatsuhashi, a triangular-shaped sweet unique to Kyoto. Crafted from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon, these delectable treats come in various flavors, including the ever-popular Matcha and delicate strawberry. In fact these treats are so popular that 40% of visitors to Kyoto buy them. These delectable confections are not only a personal delight but also make for thoughtful gifts for friends and family back home. If this kind of thing is right up your alley, be sure to try and discover more Wagashi! There are a plethora of options to choose from and they are all incredibly tasty.

4. Senju Senbei

Senju Senbei is a great choice for those who enjoy Oreos! Similarly, it is a sweet cream sandwiched between two rice crackers. They come in the standard flavor, but also Matcha and Hojicha (another type of green tea). These delectable treats can be found in various places, such as the Nishiki market. The texture of the cracker is kind of like a hard-baked waffle, but is indeed made from rice dough. Be sure to try this uniquely tasty treat or bring it back for friends and family!

5. Matcha Sweets

For Matcha enthusiasts, Kyoto is a paradise of green tea-infused treats. While strolling through the enchanting streets of Gion, explore local confectionery shops where you’ll discover an array of Matcha sweets. From Matcha-flavored Mochi to Matcha-infused cookies and ice cream, there’s a delightful Matcha creation for everyone. These delectable treats make for unique and flavorful gifts that embody the essence of Kyoto. We can’t go talking about Matcha flavored treats without mentioning Kit Kats! Don’t worry, you’ll definitely be able to find those throughout Kyoto.

6. Kyo-Shikki

Kyo-Shikki, or Kyoto lacquerware, is renowned for its meticulous craftsmanship and intricate designs. This traditional art form has been passed down through generations as far back as the Jomon period, and Kyoto remains its epicenter. Venture into the charming shops of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district to discover a world of lacquerware and many other specialties, ranging from exquisite chopsticks to decorative boxes. These pieces will not only adorn your home but also infuse it with Kyoto’s elegance.

7. Rakugan

Rakugan, delicate sweets made from soybean flour and sugar, are edible works of art in Kyoto. Crafted with precision, these confections often take the form of seasonal motifs, making them as visually appealing as they are delicious. In fact, it could be considered that Rakugan are just as much a visual artform as they are a food. Procure these charming sweets as souvenirs, and you’ll not only take home a taste of Kyoto’s culinary finesse but also a piece of its artistic heritage.

8. Mini Torii Gate

Javier Carcamo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr

The iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha, adorned with thousands of vermilion Torii gates, is a symbol of Kyoto’s spirituality. While you may not be able to carry a full-sized gate home (though, you may be able to donate in order to have one made in your name), you can find miniature versions at nearby souvenir shops. These intricately crafted mini Torii gates serve as captivating reminders of Kyoto’s spiritual allure, adding a touch of Japan’s mystical charm wherever you choose to keep it! Keep in mind there are plenty of other areas to experience this abundance of Gates, so be sure to check them out as well.

9. Tenugui

ma_shimaro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr

Tenugui, traditional Japanese hand towels, are known for their versatility and captivating patterns. In Kyoto, you’ll discover Tenugui adorned with motifs inspired by local culture and landmarks. These towels serve various purposes, from functional items like hand towels to fashion accessories and home decor. A Tenugui is a practical yet culturally rich souvenir that encapsulates Kyoto’s artistry. Tenugui are not special to Kyoto, they can be found in various areas of Japan; what was originally designed as a towel for drying dishes has become a prolific souvenir!

10. Kyo Sensu

Kyo Sensu, or Kyoto folding fans, epitomize both functionality and beauty. Crafted with meticulous precision, these fans are adorned with traditional designs that showcase Kyoto’s artistic heritage. A Kyo Sensu not only serves as a stylish cooling tool during hot Kyoto summers, but also stands as a work of art that reflects the city’s timeless elegance. Purchase one to carry a piece of Kyoto’s grace wherever you go, or as an elegant gift.

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