An Afternoon of Shopping
This area is Kyoto's beating heart of consumerism, where locals head to shop at the best boutiques and departments stores, pick up gourmet goods from the Nishiki Market to cook at home, and to drop in for a casual lunch and coffee in between.
Arrive early to beat the crowds at this wonderful market, home to a bounty of ingredients that go into Kyoto's cuisine. Wander from stall to stall inspecting the gourmet goods, duck into shops selling spices and sweets, and grab a snack to go.
You can really while away the hours at Daimaru, perhaps the best-known department store. Most of that time could be spent just checking out what's on offer in the basement food section, where locals head to pick up bentō boxes, sweets, tempura and sushi.
Takashimaya department store is a favourite for its wide variety of quality goods on offer. Take your time here moving from floor to floor, browsing everything from pottery, kimonos and lacquerware to fashion, homewares and the fantastic basement food floors.
Take a break at Tagoto Honten, a magnet for shoppers in need of a feed. It's a great spot to sample affordable kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) in a lovely, quiet setting that has you forgetting the hustle of the main streets outside. Save room for dessert, though.
Karafuneya Coffee Sanjō Honten
Karafuneya Coffee Sanjō Honten is a local's favourite for light lunches and coffee, but the real temptation is the huge selection of sundaes on the menu. Tuck into a matcha (powdered green tea) parfait or azuki (sweet red bean) with black sesame.
Make your way to lovely Kaboku Tearoom to refresh yourself with a cup of tea. Choose from a range of green teas, and watch the matcha (powdered green tea) being whisked up at the counter.
Head to Ippōdō Tea to stock up on tea to take home. Bags and small containers make the perfect lightweight souvenir of your shopping day.
- Department and speciality stores
- Tea and dessert pit stops
Getting There & Away
Subway Karasuma line to Shijō.
Train Hankyū line to Karasuma or Kawaramachi.
A Night on the Town
While the area around Ponto-chō and Kiyamachi-dōri may be swarming with tourists at night, this is still very much an area favoured by locals for an evening out – from drinking in hidden-away bars and dining at classic kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) restaurants to hanging out on the banks of the Kamo-gawa and hitting the hottest club.
Start off with a stroll down the city's most atmospheric street, Ponto-chō. This narrow pedestrianised strip is a bit underwhelming by day, but at night it's lit softly with hanging lanterns, and the open doors of elite bars and restaurants in traditional wooden buildings. You might be lucky enough to spot geisha shuffling down here, too.
Head to this quaint old sweets shop on Kiyamachi-dōri. Make sure you arrive before it closes at 6pm to pick out one of the tasty desserts. Hold on to this as your after-dinner treat to enjoy by the Kamo-gama.
On this pretty stretch of Kiyamachi-dōri there's no better place to take in the scenery than over a Japanese craft beer at Taigu, which attracts a mix of locals and expats. While the comfort pub food might be tempting, hold off for a special dinner nearby.
Kiyamachi Sakuragawa is a classic refined kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) restaurant. The service is warm and welcoming, and the cuisine is delicious and comes presented like a piece of art.
For a post-dinner drink in an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, have a tipple at Bar K6. Locals frequent this bar hidden on the 2nd floor at the far end of Kiyamachi-dōri for sensational cocktails and high-end whiskies. After a few, you might be feeling like a stretch of the legs and to walk off dinner and those drinks.
Make your way along the banks of the Kamo-gawa, where you can stroll along the riverside path, stopping for a rest on the grass and to devour the dessert you've been hanging onto. Then head back to the start of Kiyamachi-dōri to continue the night into the morning, dancing up a storm with locals, tourists and expats at Kyoto's favourite club, World.
- Hidden local spots
- Atmospheric streets
Getting There & Away
Subway Tōzai line to Sanjo-Keihan or Kyoto-Shiyakusho-mae.