Tel: 81 75 211 3421
What's more Japanese than a cup of green tea? This centuries-old, distinguished Kyoto institution takes its tea—all of which is grown in nearby Uji—as seriously as winemakers take their grapes. That's despite the disarming young salesgirl who looks like she might be sporting a few hidden tattoos and who admits in a whisper while she pours your Genmaicha that she herself prefers coffee. Even if you're only browsing, they'll proudly brew up and serve you a taste of whatever variety you fancy.
Tel: 81 75 231 0510
Guidebooks describe Kyuko-do as an "incense and stationery" store—which may confuse shoppers more than lure them in. This is a shame, for Kyuko-do is no New Age tchotchke shop. The incense is of the Japanese variety, coming in stick, cones, and chips for use in tea ceremonies and Buddhist rituals. And the stationery, including mixed packs of colorful origami paper (perfect for writing notes) and handmade cards and envelopes, make excellent gifts. Artists will be interested in the store's beautiful brushes, paper, and ink stones made for traditional sumi-e, or ink brush painting.
Tel: 81 75 211 2849
Don't overlook this inconspicuous shop in Teramachi if you have any interest in that most accessible of Japanese art forms, the ukiyo-e, or woodblock print: sensual, often sexual, frequently amusing, and highly colorful and graphic images of the "floating world" of Japan's Edo era. Nothing here is on display, however. Mr. Toru Sekigawa, who is well into his eighties, and his son Hitoshi, will talk with you, discern your tastes and interests, and then bring out prints for you to examine—just as Toru has for more than 50 years. They just don't make them like this—or like him—anymore.
Open daily 2 to 6:30 pm.
Tel: 81 75 221 2641
Japanese handmade crafts are prized for their careful workmanship and intelligent design, and Yamato Mingei-Ten is one-stop shopping for folk art and crafts from around the country. The constantly changing collection includes everything from colorful children's toys to pottery. You might walk out with carved wooden soup spoons, a ceramic salad bowl, or an adorable papier-mâché cat. The store also has a branch around the corner that carries furniture and objects too big for your carry-on luggage.