Ceramics. Fabrics. Brushes. Thread. Paper.
These were the five items I knew I wanted to bring back with me.
Kyoto is well known as a ceramic hub and I could have spent just a week on a ceramic pilgrimage to shops, museums and galleries. One of my favourite moments was when we visited the small country town, Hino in the Shiga Prefecture. After eating another incredibly satisfying lunch we discovered the proprietor’s shop full of her son’s handmade ceramics. Let me just say that we made her day, with each of us purchasing at least one piece. It’s all about the journey and the story to what you buy and since my return I have felt a real repulsion to the way we purchase here in West. I have always appreciated the handmade but now… more so. Thank you Kyoto.
However, Kyoto isn’t all about the quaint old buildings with handmade wares. The city hub is as modern as any other major centre around the world. I seriously suggest you check out the bottom level of Daimaru Department Store on the Shijo-dori, for an impressive array of fresh and packaged foods. Just don’t eat what you buy in public areas unless you can find a table and chairs somewhere.
OK, so on my list were the following:
Habu textiles for beautiful threads. Yes, it was everything you could imagine if you know the product. Difficult to find as the sign on the door is very small. Wishing I had a larger suitcase.
Brushes, and Paper were available in many places including the Teramachi Arcade towards the Sanjo dori end and keep walking towards the City Hall area for shops that sell antiques, indigo textiles, and beautiful papers.
Bunzaburo was on my list, but I’d given up on trying to get there until my last few hours when I decided to explore the quieter streets on my way back to the hotel. It was meant to be. Lovely Shibori products.
If you are there for the fabrics, make sure you visit Nomura Tailor a few blocks up from Dairmaru on the Shijo-dori for general haberdashery. Get to some flea markets for some inexpensive fabrics, kimono and yukata. My favourite store I wish I had gone back to was Gallery Kei on the Art Avenue of Teramachi dori. My new discovery was Sou-Sou, a modern cluster of design stores selling clothing, socks, and fabric. Tucked behind the Shin Kyogoku Arcade it is well worth the look for a more contemporary/Mariemekko style. Designer Katsugi Wakisaka designed for the Finnish company for many years.
And another favourite of course was Mina Perhonen which I was able to visit with two friends from Brissy. How glorious is this space. Make sure you venture up the stairs or lift to the many upper levels and see the seamstress at work preparing designs for the new season. I was kind of thankful that their winter stock was on the floor and being from a warmer climate made it an easy decision to keep my yen in my furoshiki.
But there is plenty of fabric eye candy walking the streets.
Travellers tip: Go with a empty suitcase or be prepared to send back a box via the post office. I didn’t buy as much as I had wanted to. It was at times just too overwhelming. There’s always next time!