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October 2, 2016


recently, several people have asked me where to go, what to see in Kyoto

p1100619I am no expert on Kyoto

and it was 27 years ago that I spent 6 months at Kawashima

in the village of Ichihara

but – listed here are some of the things I would see/do if I had another 6 months in the area

in no particular order

two outdoor markets – Toji Temple on the 21st of every month

and Kitano Tenjin Shrine on the 25th of each month

I used to skip school to go to one or both of these

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

Kyoto Handicraft Center – a little tourist-y, short workshops available

(Jean-Pierre reports that they have downsized considerably)

Nishijin Textile Center and Shijo-dori -info on both can be found on

click on “destinations”  then “kyoto”

it gives good maps and how to get there on public transport

side streets in the Shijo-dori area have everything from traditional crafts, a major food market to upscale shops of French designers. You can spend a whole day there.

Kimizudera Temple – also found on

 view of Kyoto from the temple is breathtaking

Lonely Planet Kyoto – written by Chris Rowthorn has excellent info.

Kyoto Artisans Concierge – the home page gives you a menu of different crafts to select

click on your area of interest – the information is well-organized

famous Japanese potter, Kanjiro Kawaii’s home is a museum, with a climbing kiln

again one of my favorite places

close to Nishijin Textile Center, Aizen Kobe is famous for indigo dyeing

Inaga Kikiryou

google “” as I can’t seem to get a link

traditional weaving equipment, the website is in English but my experience is that no English is spoken in the shop. I could go crazy in this place, then how to get it home?

and finally

Morita Washi

also found on

washi is Japanese handmade paper but this is paper like not seen anywhere else

an absolute must!

this should keep you busy

now I wish I was on my way to Kyoto

*Jean-Pierre adds this from Japan

you can visit the Imperial Household Agency in Gosho Park, the Palace compound in the center of Kyoto

open on weekdays

foreigners can book free tours (same day or following day) of the 4 Imperial palaces in Kyoto

you will need to show your passport – the tours are guided, no wandering around on your own

the gardens and architecture are amazing

the most famous are Katsura Rikyu and Shugakuin

I visited both when I was a student at Kawashima

they are well worth the effort

and also from J.P., the bookstore Maruzen, in the basement of BAL department store building is excellent


11 Comments leave one →
  1. Jean-Pierre Antonio permalink
    October 5, 2016 4:05 pm

    I’d also recommend visiting the Imperial Household Agency office in Gosho park (huge palace compound in the centre of Kyoto). Foreigners can book free tours there of the 4 Imperial palaces in Kyoto by showing passports. This is a privilege because Japanese nationals have to book 6 months in advance for the same tours.The tours are guided and so you can’t just wander around freely, but they still provide a look at some of the most amazing gardens and architecture in Japan. The most famous are Katsura Rikyu and Shugakuin. The office is open on weekdays and the tours are offered on the same day or the next, whenever there is space available.


    • October 5, 2016 4:51 pm

      Jean-Pierre – thanks again. I went to both Katsura and Shugakuin when I was at Kawashima, my roommate helped me arrange it, she was a architect and somehow got to come with me. They were both wonderful. I’m really struggling with computer time at the moment but must get this on the blog. Hope the terrible weather has passed.


  2. trl710 permalink
    October 5, 2016 8:47 am

    Thank you for your list. I was there for only 1 week last year and hope to go back soon. I really enjoyed my time in Japan and want to explore more.


    • October 5, 2016 9:00 am

      Tobie – the list is only a small, personal start to what to see in the Kyoto area but could take many days to explore.


  3. October 4, 2016 1:37 am

    Thank you so much for putting this list together! I’ve been to most of these but hadn’t seen the Kyoto Artisans website, which looks perfect for what I’m after. Although it was only last year I left, it feels like a lifetime ago I was working out there.


    • October 4, 2016 9:42 am

      toomanystitches – so much to see in Kyoto, and such diverse interests. I haven’t seen Maruzen but it is on the list for next time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jean-Pierre Antonio permalink
    October 2, 2016 5:08 pm

    Unfortunately the Kyoto Handicraft Center is a shadow of its former self. They downsized in a big way. Everything is on the ground floor now and the selection of items has been reduced. They used to have one of the best English book sections too on just about anything related to Japan but not so impressive now. For books the best place in Kyoto is the new Maruzen in the basement of the BAL building.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 2, 2016 5:30 pm

      Jean-Pierre – thanks for the update, I will add it to the list. Hope all is well in Japan, is it cooling off?


      • Jean-Pierre Antonio permalink
        October 2, 2016 6:31 pm

        Unfortunately, we just finished one of the worst Septembers in my 27 years here. After a very hot summer, a series of typhoons rolled in and it was humid and wet most of the time. Another typhoon is coming our way this wednesday or thursday so no relief yet. I am eagerly looking forward to the pleasant fall weather, which usually arrives around mid-October and lasts through most of November.


      • October 2, 2016 9:54 pm

        J-P – yikes, summer in Japan! hope it changes soon.


    • October 4, 2016 1:22 am

      I was there for the opening of that and it really is one of the most incredible stores – even by Japanese bookshop standards!


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