Souvenirs in Kyoto

September 1, 2019

When you go to Japan, you can find a lot of souvenir shops, especially in Gion, Kawaramachi, Shinkyougoku, and places close to famous temples. Kyoto’s souvenirs are mostly traditional Japanese things. Therefore, people come to collect them from all around the world, include Japanese people. We focused on one of the souvenir shops in the Shikyogoku area of downtown Kyoto. It is called Kyo-no-Furusato, which means “Hometown of Kyoto.” They can speak seven languages, and are open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Kyo-no-Furusato is located on Shinkyougoku street, which is about 10 minutes on foot from the Hankyu Kawaramachi station. As you walk towards Kyo-no-Furusato, you can see many local shops. We chose to focus on this shop because there it is a very popular and busy shop. There are three main very popular souvenirs in Kyo-no-Furusato, so if you are interested in getting some great souvenirs from Kyoto, you should go there.


The first souvenir is called Fuurin, which is a bell made of metal, glass, and/or pottery, with a strip of paper dangling below it. You can enjoy hanging it under the eaves. In the picture seen here, the front is made of metal and the back is made of glass. We usually use it from the summer to the beginning of fall. When we hear the Fuurin sounds, our mind becomes calm and at ease. It is known as amulet. It was first used by nobles and then later used by the general population. 

The metal ones are traditional, while the glass ones is are more modern. Both of them are the poplar. You can find them in the center of shop.


An ochoko is a small bowl like a glass when you drink tequila shot. It is made from glass and pottery. The name ochoko comes from choku which mean ‘little by little’. We usually use it when we drink Nihonshu, or Japanese sake. The alcohol percentage is high, so we drink it with an ochoko. At first, it is used exclusively by nobles. But its use spread to the common people in an interesting way. The pottery in the form of Higuchi seems to have been old, but it was explosively spread in the middle of the Edo period when Soba (buckwheat) noodles were popular. They used it a way to drink Soba soup. After that normal people were able to drink sake then use the cup as glass of drink like now.

The ochoko in this shop has a lot of beautiful designs, which are all Japanese patterns. We recommend that if you would like to buy lots of ochoko, you can use them as ornaments. They are all so small, so you can bring them back to your country easily. You can find ochoko in the back of shop and along the right side.

Japanese Snacks

There are many Japanese snacks available in Souvenir Shops like Kyo-no-Furusato. Especially, Kyoto is very famous for green tea, so many snacks are made with green tea.

 Everyone knows Kit Kat. In Japan, however, the snack is made in a very Japanese way. For example, there are Kit Kat chocolates with sake of plum, chocolate with sake, chocolate with roasted green tea, green tea, and Uji green tea (Uji is a part of city of Kyoto that is very famous for green tea). In addition to Kit Kat, there are many other famous snacks from Kyoto, including:

1. Yatsuhashi 2. Malebranche from Cha no ka 3. Senju Senbei from Kogetsu 4. Ajarimochi from Mangetsu 5. Green Tea Corneta from Jouvancelle 6. Torori Warabi-mochi from Warabin 7. Kyo Baumkuchen from Otabe 8. Hogyoku-do’s Fox senbei from Hogyokudo 9. Macha Tea Roasted Chocolate from Nakamura Tokichi 10. Kyoame Koicha Temari

There are many kinds of snacks unique to Kyoto. However, it is not just Kyoto that has special snacks. Other prefectures also make unique snacks, so when you have time in Japan or when you go to other prefectures, it is better to find that snacks from that prefecture. It can be a very interesting experience during your trip.

In conclusion, Kyoto is wonderful city, especially for traditional things. When you come to Japan, you must be open minded, so it is important to try things outside of what is normal for you. For example, you can buy a Huurin and use it in your own country. In this way , you can feel the Japanese summer in your own country, or choose Kyoto’s special snacks and eat them in your country with your family, friends, and neighbors. You can share what Japanese people like the most. Let’s enjoy your trip to Kyoto by experiencing true Kyoto things.



Learning how to Kyo-Kanoko: A special trip to the Miyako-messe


by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai





Today we went to Miyako-messe. Miyako-messe is a museum, you can see traditional crafts in Kyoto. When we entered in Miyako-messe, we were very surprised, because there are many people in there. In Miyako-messe, you can see demonstration by craftspeople. The demonstrations are very powerful, so we were excited. Next, we went to the souvenir corner. You can buy many kind of traditional crafts. For example, scarfs, bags, hair accessories and so on, however we were most impressed by the Kanoko.

There are 74 traditional crafts in Kyoto. Everybody knows about kimono, however not everyone knows Kanoko. What is Kanoko? There are two patterns of kimono, one is dyed, another is woven. Kanoko is dyed cloth. Kanoko is used for Kimono and Kanoko is one of the 74 crafts.  However it is different from dyed Kimono. There are many bits and wrinkles. How is it made? It is made from one piece of cloth. The cloth is made by craftspeople. Craftspeople twist one by one.

How many twists do you think it takes to make Kanoko? One hundred? One thousand? This Kimono is twisted three hundred thousand times. When people make Shibori Kimono, it takes 6 months to 1 year. Why does it take a lot of time?   Why is called it Kanoko shibori?   The reason is because Kanoko means young deer in Japanese. Japanese people believe Kanoko looks like a deer pattern, therefore people say Kanoko.



In 7c, Kanoko was introduced to Japan from India. This was written about in a book and there are some Waka poems about Kanoko Shibori from 7c as well. In 10c, Shibori was worn by princesses, princes, and rich people. In the Edo period, it was around as a brand clothes in Japan, and it was made in Kyoto, which was called Kyo-Kanoko Shibori. For a long time, craftspeople passed on the technique of how to twist from generation to generation.

In Kyoto, are there many souvenirs? If you come to Kyoto, what souvenir will you buy? Sweets? Kimono? Macha? I recommend Kanoko. Kanoko is used to make hair accessories and it is a reasonable price. Kanoko Kanzashi is a good item, because Maiko wear Kanzashi. Kanzashi is a hair accessory, and it is able to hold up your hair with only one stick. It is very cute! Another one is furoshiki, it is big cloth, so it can wrap ground something. For example, you can wrap a present in it to become a bag so it is easy to carry. If you come to Kyoto, you should buy a Kanoko item for a souvenir for your family.



9-1, Okazaki Seisyoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8343

Exploring Porta

By Chihiro Nakagawa and MayaInoue

When you arrive at Kyoto Station, the first thing that will probably catch your attention will be Kyoto Tower. However, what you won’t see are the crowds of people that fill the shopping mall beneath Kyoto Station every day. Many of them are visitors to Kyoto who come here to buy souvenirs before they head home.


One of many entrances to Porta

When you arrive after a long train ride, you may feel tired. Some of you might wonder if there are any cafes, restaurants or shops nearby. By descending the escalators or stairs in front of Kyoto Station you will encounter a huge underground shopping mall with all different kinds of souvenir shops, clothing stores, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and even a Starbucks coffeeshop. This commercial zone is called Porta.

porta entrance2

porta entrance

Porta first opened in 1980 and was the first underground shopping mall in Kyoto. Later, another underground mall was built (with parking lot and subway entrances) below Oike Street, between Kawaramachi and Karasuma streets. Porta was refurbished in 1997 at the same time the new Kyoto Station was being built. In 2009, it was also renovated again on an even larger scale. In 2014, Porta will be refurbished again. Adjoining Porta, there is a smaller shopping area whose name is The Cube.Porta and The Cube are interconnected. There are many more stores in Porta, although the Cube features more fashion shops.


suvenia shop

Also in Porta there are several stores that specialize in popular Kyoto foods and souvenirs, such as yatsuhashi (a cinnamon-flavored confection), macha (powdered green tea), baumukuchen (a western-style cake). Of course, there are not only foods and sweets but also local products such as dyed fabrics, fans, pottery, tea implements and so on. There is an information office next to the centrally located Starbucks. And nearby you can find some ATMs. The office provides guide maps to Porta in several different languages.



Here is the Porta Shopping Guide. It gives you the locations of Porta’s many shops, restaurants, and cafes.  On the left side of this map are some restaurants that offer all kinds of meals—Italian, Chinese, deep-fried pork cutlets, soba noodles, udon noodles, deserts and of course Japanese specials. You can easily find toilets that are clean and easy to use on this map. When you open the Guide further, it shows pictures of the cuisine offered by the various restaurants and cafes in the mall. This is helpful in deciding where to go and eat!





One restaurant we especially want to recommend to visitors is Harvest. This restaurant uses only natural organic foods on their large menu.

Harvest also serves vegetables made in Kyoto, which are called kyo-yasai. The menu is good and healthy. Harvest is buffet style,

 so for ¥1500 you can eat a variety of different dishes and soups and go back for more. Of course, the other restaurants in Porta are worth trying too!


Porta’s theme character is called “Portan” (see photo). Portan can be seen entertaining people up and down the mall, especially during Christmas season. You can buy goods based on this cute character in Porta.

porta subway

Entrance to the North-South subway line in Porta

As you can see, there are many attractions in here. When you arrive in Kyoto in the morning, you can pick up breakfast and have a cup of cofee before you begin your sightseeing. And when you leave Kyoto you can have dinner and pick up souvenirs. Porta is an especially convenient place for visitors who come to Kyoto by train!