Artists and artisans are spurring a revival in a neighborhood that's fallen off the tourist maps.
Uchu Wagashi 786 Fujinoki-cho, Kamigyo-ku (81-75) 201-4933 uchu-wagashi.jp
This tiny shop opened a year and a half ago with a small selection of
wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets in unusual flavors like chai tea.
Thin, cookie-like rakugan come in animal shapes like hippos and
As the kimono fell out of style, so too did
Nishijin, the historic textile district in northwestern Kyoto. These
days, the neighborhood’s narrow, quiet lanes north of Imadegawa and west
of Horikawa have fallen off the tourist map. But in recent years, local
artists and artisans have opened small shops and studios in the
neighborhood, many in the traditional wooden houses called machiya,
spurring a revival. Here, time-honored Japanese traditions get a modern
spin — from hand-printed paper (like at Kamisoe, left) to classic
confections — with nary a souvenir chopstick in sight. — INGRID K. WILLIAMS
Nazuna 11-1 Higashi Fujinomori-cho Murasakino 1F, Kita-ku (81-90) 8368-3756
Local artisans converted an old two-story machiya into an artists’
collective. In a glass blower’s studio, handblown bud vases are strung,
and displays are filled with colorful, whimsical jewelry.
Ryuka 11-1 Higashi Fujinomori-cho Murasakino 2F, Kita-ku (81-90) 4562-3396
Slip off your shoes before ascending the stairs to this second-floor
studio in the Fujinomori artists’ collective. The ornate, hand-painted
ceramics for sale range from festive chopstick rests and beautiful beer
mugs to magnificently decorated teacups.
Yamaoka Saketen 555 Botanboko-cho, Senbondori Kamidachiurisagaru, Kamikyo-ku (81-75) 461-4772
Though a ban on small-production breweries in Japan was lifted in the
mid-1990s, craft beer has been slow to catch on. But lurking amid dusty
sake bottles and fresh vegetables in this open-air shop is,
incongruously, the city’s best selection of rare Japanese microbrews,
including bottles from Nagisa and Fujizakura Heights.