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As the capital and the seat of the Imperial Court for over 1000 years, Kyoto has set the quality standard for Japanese arts and crafts. Members of the Imperial Court were particularly influential patrons and practitioners of the arts, and their influence resulted in the development of many popular art forms. The city remains the most important center of traditional Japanese crafts today.

Pottery is a common craft throughout Japan and one of Kyoto's most popular specialties. Of the different styles of Kyoto pottery (kyo-yaki), Kiyomizu pottery is the most famous. This ceramic ware and porcelain is hand painted with elaborate designs and often used in the tea ceremony. Kiyomizu pottery is named after the area around Kiyomizudera Temple, where it was first developed. It is still widely available for purchase in stores around Kiyomizudera.

Kyoto's kimono are also regarded to be among Japan's finest. Two methods of kimono manufacturing native to Kyoto are silk weaving (nishijin-ori) and silk dyeing (kyo-yuzen). The silk weaving method developed through the Imperial Court's appetite for beautiful fabrics and elegant clothing and involves dyeing the yarn before weaving it into patterns on fabrics. In the silk dyeing method, the patterns are dyed after the fabric has been produced.

The first evidence of Japanese dolls dates from the Jomon Period. However, Kyoto dolls (kyo-ningyo) became popular during the Heian Period, when they were thought to bring luck and health to children. Gradually, the dolls became popular with daughters of aristocrats in the Imperial Court and the craft was further developed.

Folding fans (kyo-sensu), decorated with beautiful pictures, were a status symbol at the Imperial Court. They were carried by both men and women and used according to a strict code of decorum. Folding fans from Kyoto are regarded as the country's highest quality fans.

Lacquer ware is another hallmark craft of Japan, and the Kyoto variety, kyo-shikki, is especially popular. Lacquer ware originated in the Nara Period, but it only became widespread about 500 years later. Kyoto lacquer ware has been frequently used in tea ceremonies.

Home to the Emperor for over 1000 years, Kyoto often hosted elaborate Shinto ceremonies and festivities. Specialized Shinto objects, such as masks, crowns and instruments were developed for these events, some of which can be seen in Kyoto's many shrines. The city remains Japan's main producer of Shinto objects today.

Other Kyoto crafts include ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), Japanese umbrellas (wagasa), various crafts and tools made of bamboo, and washi paper, a thick type of paper used for origami, ukiyo-e prints and many other purposes.

Kyoto has dozens of facilities catering to the sale, creation and teaching of various handicrafts. Besides the usual craft and souvenir shops, some Kyoto craft specialists also offer workshops, allowing guests to try producing their own crafts.

Kyoto craft centers

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Small number of irregular closing days
Admission: Free

Nishijin Textile Center

Hours: 10:00 to 16:00
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 3
Admission: Free

Kyoto Handicraft Center

Hours: 11:00 to 17:00
Closed: New Year holidays
Admission: Free

Getting there and around

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts and Kyoto Handicraft Center

The Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts and Kyoto Handicraft Center stand close to one another and can easily be combined. The museum is located just south of Heian Shrine, while the Handicraft Center is just to the north of it.

By bus from Kyoto Station, Kyoto City Bus number 5 take passengers to Kyotokaikan Bijutsukan-mae bus stop (about 25 minutes, 230 yen).

Both facilities can also be accessed in about ten minutes on foot from Keihan Marutamachi Station on the Keihan Railway Line or Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Subway Line.

Nishijin Textile Center

Take the Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Station to Imadegawa Station (9 minutes, 260 yen), from where Nishijin Textile Center is a 10 minute walk in western direction near the junction of Imadegawa and Horikawa streets.

Visitors can also board Kyoto City Bus number 9 from Kyoto Station. Disembark at Horikawa-Imadegawa bus stop (about 25 minutes, 230 yen).

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hotels around Kyoto

    • Ryokan Hirashin
      A traditional hotel with spacious rooms and high speed Wi-Fi. Conveniently located in the heart of Kyoto city. 3min to Shijo Karasuma Sta. and 5min to the famous Nishiki Market.
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    • Arashiyama Hanaikada
      A little, superior ryokan right near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Free transfer from JR station. Private bath and open-air baths available. 5min walk to the Bamboo Groves.
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    • Ryokufuso
      A friendly Japanese hotel near Nishi Honganji temple. 5min by taxi from JR Kyoto Sta. Enjoy your stay with the Japanese room and communal baths. Free Wi-Fi & parking lot.
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    • Japanese hotel, Ryokan Nishiyama
      Experience the real Japan at our affordable ryokan. Close to major tourist spots in Kyoto.
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Top rated in Kyoto
Budget:
    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      In a prime location in Kyoto, Mitsuki Kyoto offers a vegetarian breakfast and free WiFi. The property features inner courtyard and quiet street views, and is 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum. The accommodation features full-day security and luggage storage space for guests. The ryokan provides certain units with garden views, and the units are equipped with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a vegan or a gluten-free breakfast, which can also be delivered to your room. A bar can be found on-site. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star ryokan. Guests can relax in the garden at the property. Nijo Castle is 1.1 km from the ryokan, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 1.8 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Mitsuki Kyoto.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Yado Kiramachi
      Luxury
      Yado Kiramachi offers accommodation set 600 metres from the centre of Kyoto and provides a garden and a terrace. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The ryokan features family rooms. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. With a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
      Mid-range
      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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    • Rangetsu
      Luxury
      Located in a quiet neighborhood in Arashiyama district, Rangetsu offers Japanese-style accommodations with a private Hinoki cypress wood bath and free wired internet access. Guests can also relax in the public indoor/outdoor baths as well. Keifuku Arashiyama Train Station is a 10-minute walk away. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and a safety deposit box. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests. Some rooms have a private open-air bath. Rangetsu Ryokan is a 15-minute walk from Arashiyama Monkey Park and a 10-minute walk from Tenryu-ji Temple. Togetsu Bridge is a 5-minute walk and Hankyu Arashiyama Train Station is a 15-minute walk away. Photocopying services and luggage storage is offered at the front desk. Free parking is on-site.
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Experiences around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto