Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, captivates visitors with its picturesque streets, rich traditions, and serene atmosphere. After you’ve explored the winding streets of this historic city and immerse yourself in the local culture, don't forget to bring back a piece of Kyoto's magic with you! Read on to discover our top 10 recommendations for Kyoto souvenirs.
When it comes to matcha, and all things green tea, Kyoto is THE place to be! Uji, located south of Kyoto city, is the region renowned for its exquisite matcha, carefully grown in shade and slowly stone-ground into a fine powder. At the Bento&co shop in Kawaramachi, we offer top grade Matcha Powder from Uji (complete with a handy built-in mesh lid strainer!) so you can conveniently bring home a taste of Kyoto. For those looking for something a little sweeter, our Uji Matcha Milk Jam is a delectable spread made from Hokkaido milk, sugar, and Uji Matcha; perfect for toast and pancakes, or as a base for matcha drinks and snacks. Both are made by Chikiriya, a historic Kyoto tea shop. An amazing coffee alternative, matcha is full of antioxidants. Incorporating it into your daily routine will not only bring health benefits, but will remind you of your dreamy Kyoto memories!
Traditional Kyoto Pottery
Kyoto boasts a long-standing pottery tradition, with dozens of pottery shops to choose from. Famous pottery neighborhoods include Awataguchi (known for its fine crackle glazes) and the area around Ichijo-dori, the birthplace of Raku Ware, renowned for its unique hand-formed and low-fired style. One of the most popular places to find these beautiful pieces is Gojo-zaka, the slope leading to Kiyomizu Temple, and the birthplace of Kiyomizu Ware, famous for its vibrant glazes and varied styles. There is also a vast selection, as well as in depth information about the history of Kyoto pottery available at the Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery, located near the lovely Philosopher’s Path. Why not pick up a refined Kyoto kyusu (tea pot) or chawan (tea cup) to grace your cupboard and spark conversations about your journey back home?
For fans of fine drink, no visit to Kyoto would be complete without indulging in the city's renowned sake. Kyoto has a rich sake brewing heritage that you can enjoy firsthand by visiting the Fushimi district, home to the famous Gekkeikan brewery founded in 1637. Whether you're a sake connoisseur or just sake-curious, exploring the local breweries and bringing back a bottle or two of Kyoto sake is a must. Sample the aromatic junmai, crisp ginjo, or the mellow daiginjo sake, each carefully brewed using traditional methods passed down through generations.
Kyoto Folding Fans
A quintessential symbol of Japanese culture, folding fans are both practical and visually captivating. In Kyoto, you can find elegantly designed fans called “Kyo Sensu”, that have a history dating back to the 8th century tied with the nobility and religious leaders of the city. Fun fact, in the Edo period, fan making became such an important industry that it was designated as one of the “three professions of Kyoto”. Today, you can find fans adorned with traditional motifs, such as cherry blossoms, as well as more modern designs. Beat the summer heat in style with a Kyoto Sensu or display them as an eye-catching decoration.
Home to hundreds of temples, Kyoto has a long relationship with incense, an essential element in Buddhist practice. Originally introduced with Buddhism more than 1500 years ago, incense began to be enjoyed by Kyoto aristocrats in their daily life in the Heian period, turning incense appreciation into an art form. Today, you can find meticulously crafted incense made from complex blends of aromatic woods, herbs, and spices in a variety of styles, including incense cones and sticks. Immerse yourself in the world of fragrance and choose from a variety of scents that evoke the serene atmosphere of Kyoto's temples and gardens. KyuKyudo is a fantastic place to find a variety of incense!
Japanese bento boxes offer far more than just a basic lunchbox. They exemplify the Japanese culture of food presentation, balance, and aesthetics, while also providing a fun, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to level up your lunch or picnic. Whether it's the exquisite craftsmanship of handmade wooden masterpieces, the convenience of modern bento boxes equipped with built-in cooling packs, or the charm of kid-sized boxes adorned with beloved characters, there's a bento box for everyone. Enjoy perusing a large collection of “made-in-Japan” bento boxes at Bento&co, located in the heart of Kyoto. Bento boxes are a perfect way to remember your trip to Kyoto every day, and incorporate Japanese culture to your daily routine.
Indulge your sweet tooth with Kyoto's delectable sweets! A must try are Yatsuhashi, triangle shaped mochi that come in dozens of fun flavors (cinnamon, the classic flavor, is also delicious!) They make delightful gifts for friends and family or a scrumptious reminder of your time in Kyoto. Don’t forget to enjoy some matcha flavored desserts like matcha parfait and tiramisu!
Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made from a blend of dried, flavorful ingredients, offering a burst of umami-rich flavors and textures. It’s an incredibly versatile condiment, often used to season rice and onigiri, but also delicious with noodles, vegetables and proteins, adding a delicious and distinctive touch to any meal. In Kyoto, be sure to get some Kyo Rayu Furikake, made from garlic and mouth-watering Kujo Negi (Kyoto Green Onions) soaked in ra-yu (Japanese chili-oil). You can also try the offerings of Nishiki Kai furikake, a sesame based series featuring tantalizing flavors like Yuzu, Ume, and Wasabi. Delicious, lightweight, and compact, furikake makes a wonderful culinary souvenir that won’t break the bank, or the luggage scale.
Miniatuart made by Sankei
Do you wish you could transport yourself back to the beautiful landscapes of Japan? Miniatuart kits are for you! Sankei, a local Kyoto-based company, makes beautiful papercraft Miniatuart kits of retro buildings, and classic scenes from Studio Ghibli. You can find kits of all sizes and difficulty levels, as well as the tools to assemble them, at the Bento&co store in Kawaramachi, and on our online shop. These Miniatuart sets make for fantastic souvenirs as they’re super lightweight and compact!
Furoshiki (Wrapping Cloths)
Add a touch of eco-friendly flair to your gift-giving with furoshiki, traditional Japanese wrapping cloths. These versatile fabrics come in various sizes and designs, and are perfect for bringing a bento box to work, or wrapping your other souvenirs! At the Bento&co store, we offer a varied selection of furoshiki that you can enjoy choosing from. Lightweight, sustainable and featuring vibrant Japanese motifs, furoshiki are a wonderful memento of your Kyoto stay!
In a city as renowned for its craftsmanship as Kyoto, it’s no surprise there’s plenty of amazing options for souvenirs to remember your trip by. Whether you’re looking for beautiful handcrafted works of art, sweet and savory treats to share with friends and family back home, or something you can use to bring a little of that Kyoto spark into your daily routine, there’s plenty of amazing options available. These are just a few of our top picks, but let us know your favorite Kyoto souvenirs in the comments below!