I love shopping and Kyoto is the best place to go shopping in Japan. This time, I focused on practical tools and personal belongings which I want to keep for a long time. Kyoto has a long history of producing goods for aristocrats, so there are many traditional handicraft shops. Kyoto is also known as a student city, as over 30 universities are located there. So, there are many restaurants that serve a huge amount of foods to satisfy university students at a reasonable price. Each time, I have come here and found unique shops and restaurants with local flavors.
There are many choices of shops in Kyoto, and you can find various ways to enjoy them. This is a list of my favorite stores that I had visited more than three times.
1. Owariya (尾張屋)
I wanted to buy bug repellents at Owariya and found Kaori dama (scent ball) there. If you put bug repellents in closets or towel baskets, clothes and towels get a faint scent. I bought incense too for mosquito repellent on the balcony and at the entrance to my home. I usually burn incense as a deodorizer, freshener or bug repellent in the living room, entrance, bathroom and on the balcony.
When I put Owariya’s scent ball at the entrance to my house the scent lasted for more than 6 months. The shop is located between Sanjo Station and the Gion area. The neighborhood is also known as a merchant house area, so you can enjoy the traditional Kyoto town atmosphere.
2. Shoyeido (松栄堂) at Ranzan Kakyo in Arashiyama
I was interested in making my original Kou Scent by myself. Shoyeido at Ranzan Kakyo holds Nioi-Kou workshops to produce original scents with several kinds of incense. I picked up 10 scents of a few different kinds and mixed them. Then, I separated them into 4 petit paper bags. I put those in my closet and the scent lasted for 6 months. It took 30 mins, so it is easy to schedule during a short trip.
3. Aritsugu (有次) in Nishiki-Ichiba
Our fishing skill was fully progressed from catching very small fish through to horse mackerel, so I wanted to have cooking utensils for dressing fish.
Aritsugu has more than 450 years history of producing Japanese knives and kitchenware. Clerks can speak several languages and use their deep knowledge to explain details of each kitchen implement. It was a joy to communicate with them and to learn how to use their tools.
Aritsugu also insert customer’s names on utensils. I bought scissors for flower arranging and had my name put on them. It became my lifetime valuable tool. I also bought a fish scale remover, pruning scissors and tea strainer for my souvenirs.
I have had a custom to drink Japanese tea during meals since I was a child. I always do this as my tradition. I usually buy a new tea canister each time, but I wanted to keep special canisters for Japanese green tea, coarse tea and black tea. At Kaikado, I bought one copper tea canister.
Kaikado mainly produces tea canisters but has expanded its handicraft skills to produce Spaghetti and Coffee bean containers. When I visited the head store, a clerk kindly explained about the differences between the three kinds of materials; copper, brass and tin. She enthused that I would be able to enjoy the changing colors for many years to come.
I found a tea strainer that changed color at the shop and I remembered my mom had the same tea strainer from here. After all, I bought the same one.
5. Daikokuden Honpo Seien
Daikokuden Honpo produces seasonal sweets, Waka Ayu (summer season), Japanese Rolled castella with rice cake, Castella, Cookies and fruit jelly. Seien is a Japanese style cafe next to the shop serving Kohaku Nagashi, cold jelly with syrup.
Kaikokuden Honpo serves different tastes of Kohaku Nagashi every season, so I could not resist to visit here to enjoy those seasonal variations even if I had wished to visit other places.
6. Fruit Parlor Yaoiso, teahouse serving fresh fruit
Fruit sandwich is fluffy bread with lightly sweetened fresh cream and various kinds of fresh fruits. It always causes a confusion of whether this is lunch or snacks, but I usually have fruit sandwich as lunch. Kyoto has many choices of fruit sandwiches at fruit parlors or cafes, but I prefer to visit Yaoiso each time.
Yaoiso has about 140 years of history serving fresh fruit desserts, cakes, parfait, sandwiches and fresh juice. Yaois is located near Shijo Omiya Station of Tanden Train to Arashiyama. This area is not frequented by tourists but is familiar to locals, so you can enjoy a Japanese downtown atmosphere.
When I was a kid, I had never had Namafu, raw Japanese wheat gluten, in Tokyo. I still remembered the excitement when I had Namafu for the first time. I love sticky rice cake and Namafu was also the same texture as a rice cake. Initially, you might confuse whether you could swallow it or not. The texture is like chewing gum. At Hanbey-fu, you will find various kinds of style of Namafu. I have come here with my parents, my family and by myself. Each time, I have enjoyed all kinds of Namafu with various flavors.
Hanbey-fu produces Japanese wheat gluten and its head office serves a traditional Japanese course lunch. (Hanbey-fu serves only lunch course) Open hours are 11:00 am to 14:30 pm and a reservation is needed. The head office is a very old Japanese style store and you can experience an old Japanese merchant atmosphere. You can also buy the Namafu as a souvenir. When I buy the Namafu, I always preserve it by freezing and cook with olive oil and salt.