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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 specimen. Two methods of kimono manufacturing native to Kyoto are silk weaving (nishijin-ori) and silk dyeing (kyo-yuzen). The silk weaving method was developed as a result of demand from the Imperial Court for beautiful fabrics and elegant clothing and involves dyeing the yarn before weaving it into patterns and images on fabrics. In the silk dyeing method, the images and 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. Kyoto dolls are still one of the more popular Kyoto specialties.

Folding fans (kyo-sensu), decorated with beautiful pictures, were a status symbol in 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. Buyers seeking original, handmade pieces can trust store owners' advice; owners and facility managers are honest about the quality and price of their products. Besides the usual craft and souvenir shops, many Kyoto craft specialists also offer programs, allowing guests to try producing their own crafts.

Kyoto Craft Centers

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan)

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: A few days in mid August and over New Year
Admission: Free

Nishijin Textile Center

Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: December 29 to January 3
Admission: Free

Kyoto Handicraft Center

Hours: daily 10:00 to 19:00
Closed: New year holidays
Admission: Free

Getting there and around

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan) and Kyoto Handicraft Center

The Fureaikan and Kyoto Handicraft Center stand close to one another and can easily be combined. Fureaikan 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 numbers 5 and 100 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 numbers 9 or 101 from Kyoto Station. Disembark at Horikawa-Imadegawa bus stop (about 25 minutes, 230 yen).

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hotels around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto
Budget:
    • 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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    • IMAYA Hostel Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively situated in the centre of Kyoto, IMAYA Hostel Kyoto features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. The property is around less than 1 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, a 16-minute walk from Nijo Castle and 2.4 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, a concierge service and ticket service for guests. All guest rooms at the hostel are fitted with a flat-screen TV and a kitchenette. The rooms have a shared bathroom, slippers and bed linen. Kyoto Imperial Palace is 2.9 km from IMAYA Hostel Kyoto, while Heian Shrine is 3.1 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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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 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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    • 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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    • Guest House Oumi
      Budget-friendly
      Well set in the centre of Kyoto, Guest House Oumi provides air-conditioned rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen and room service for guests. All units include a shared bathroom, slippers and bed linen. A continental breakfast is available daily at the guest house. Nijo Castle is less than 1 km from guesthouseoumi, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 37 km from the accommodation.
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    • Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie
      Luxury
      Ideally situated in the Shimogyo Ward district of Kyoto, Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie is situated 1.3 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, 1.9 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto and 2.3 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms offering a wardrobe, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere the rooms have bed linen and towels. An American breakfast is available each morning at the accommodation. Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie offers a terrace. Shoren-in Temple is 2.7 km from the hotel, while Nijo Castle is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere.
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    • Yadoya Kikokuso
      Mid-range
      Yadoya Kikokuso is set in Kyoto, a 10-minute walk away from JR Kyoto Station and a 5-minute walk from Shichijo Station of the Keihan Line. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 2 km from Yadoya Kikokuso. Higashi Honganji Temple and Sanjusangen-do Temple are respectively a 5 and 10-minute walk from the property. Every room is equipped with a flat-screen TV. Certain units have a seating area where you can relax. The rooms are fitted with a shared bathroom. Extras include slippers and free toiletries. There is luggage storage space at the property. Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2 km from Yadoya Kikokuso, while Tofuku-ji Temple is 2 km away. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 37 km from the property.
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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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    • Yadoya Manjiro
      Mid-range
      Built in the Sukiya-style of around 1900, Yadoya Manjiro features Japanese-style rooms with relaxing garden views. The inn is a 5-minute walk from Kiyomizu-dera Temple and offers concierge services and a shared lounge. Free WiFi is also available. Tranquil rooms feature low furniture and traditional futon bedding on tatami (woven-straw) floor, paper screens and Japanese art decorations. They are fitted with a fridge and a safe. The Japanese-style inn is a 1-minute stroll from a number of restaurants and a 5-minute walk from a convenience shop or bus stop. JR Kyoto Station is a 10-minute taxi ride.
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