Upon a Fold

A little peek into the world of paper artistry

paper & kyoto - shops to visit... July 12, 2011

Above: A laneway near Uragu and a very picturesque part of Kyoto to explore.

Kyoto is a great place to visit if you love paper. Well actually it’s a great place to visit full stop! But if paper makes you happy like it makes me happy, then you really, really must go! Here are some of the shops I visited last month when I was in Kyoto, starting with one of my favourite little paper shops ever, Uragu.

Above: Uragu interior.

Uragu really is a hidden gem. It’s not particular easy to find but definitely worth finding! It’s a small paper shop that sells its own stationery range and everything on display is beautiful. Expect to find stationery products for everyday use like notebooks, memos, writing papers, and envelopes in every size. There is something so timeless and peaceful about this place. It’s really worth a visit.

Above: Uragu’s long and narrow entrance and beautiful interior.

I bought this beautiful book of tiny envelopes (below). And more tiny envelopes below that. Have I told you I collect tiny envelopes? I do, and I have so many beautiful ones. I will show you one day, promise.

Above: Envelopes and more envelopes. Below: Beautiful postcards by Uragu.

Next up is another gorgeous paper shop called Rokkaku. Rokkaku is the place to go if you’re looking for beautiful custom made invitations, announcement cards, personalised stationery, and pretty paper products.

Above: Rokkaku’s charming window display.

Rokkaku has the most colourful and graphic range of paper items. You’ll find very unique greeting cards and an assortment of mix and match stationery pieces.

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Above: Foil stamped card cuteness.

Above: Envelope liners are sold separately at Rokkaku and choosing your own colour combinations is so much fun.

Above: Karacho shop front.

This next business has been operating since 1624. Karacho is the place to visit if you want to discover the art of Karakami (woodblock printed paper). Karacho boasts a collection of 650 hand carved woodblocks, most of them more than 200 years old. These woodblocks are still being used today to print the most beautiful patterned papers that are mostly used in Japan for creating feature interior walls and doors.

Above: Woodblock printing the Karacho way.

I bought these two beautiful postcards (above) from the Karacho shop in Kyoto. They are hand printed on the most beautiful washi paper. I wonder how old the woodblocks are that were used to print these? That’s what I love most about Kyoto. The role of an artisan is still relevant and existing here.

Above: More amazing patterns from the Karacho collection.

Above: Benrido shop front.

If you’re looking for postcards to send to friends and family back home then head straight to Benrido. Its walls are decorated with the most beautiful collection of postcards (about 1000 of them) that showcase Japan’s extensive and amazing art collection. This is great place to discover Japanese art in all forms, reproduced perfectly onto postcards.

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Above: Two of my favourite postcards from Benrido

Above: Suzuki Shofudo shop front.

Suzuki Shofudo is a paper craft shop that runs workshops as well. Think boxes, toys, lamp shades, bags, wallets, and loads more all made of paper! Suzuki Shofudo have been creating handmade paper products for more than 100 years which makes this a great place to learn traditional paper craft techniques. Bookings are required.

Above: Beautiful handmade paper at Suzuki Shofudo.

Above: The perfect little storage box to keep all my bits and pieces.

Above: A paper card holder from Suzuki Shofudo. So cute I couldn’t resist it.

Above: Paper at Kyukyodo.

Kyukyodo is as much an incense shop as it is a paper shop. It has been around since 1663 and is well known by Japanese for providing quality artisan tools and materials. The selection of brushes here are the best I have seen in Kyoto. Calligraphy supplies are plentiful and so are beautiful sheets of paper and pretty stationery sets. Kyukyodo also has store in Tokyo.

Above: Kyukyodo shop front and Kyukyodo’s postcard stand.

Above: Traditional Japanese brushes at Kyukyodo.

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Above: The most beautiful teeny tiny accordian books from Kyukyodo.

Above: Kyukyodo has the most amazing collection of seasonal illustrated postcards.

Above: One of many hand-bound notebooks you’ll find at Kyukyodo.

Lastly, The Writing Shop (above) was a surprising find. It’s a little piece of Europe right in the heart of Kyoto. If you love letterpress, fountain pens, and designer European paper then definitely stop by here. It’s such a beautiful shop!

I still have lots more to share from my travels. More paper shops, more design shops, and more must-visit places to come. xo

images © upon a fold


satsuki shibuya : zakka nouveauq — 12 July at 03:37PM

just gorgeous!! i’ve been happily following your lovely blog for sometime, but kyoto has been one place that my soul longs to be + this post just made my heart flutter. love everything about it + hope to be able to visit these beautiful shops the next time i’m visiting family there. thank you for sharing!

Fanny Nordmark — 12 July at 10:55PM

Absolutely beautiful! Especially love all the pretty patterns.

Patti — 13 July at 12:23AM

These photos are lovely, thanks for sharing pieces of your trip with us! Japan is at the top of my places to see list.

Devi — 13 July at 05:57AM

Oh, heaven!!! Kyoto is on my list.

Rod — 13 July at 07:03AM

Another awesome post Justine :) I need to visit Japan, these shops look amazing. Thanks for sharing

Jinnie — 13 July at 07:19AM

Thank you so much for this post! Your blog is becoming my premier guide to Japan shopping. And what a delightful surprise to see Ono Chikkyo postcard! I saw his exhibit in Kyoto Modern Art museum long ago and got a poster with the exact same painting.. I love it. ^^

Justine — 13 July at 10:27AM

Hey thanks for all your comments overnight :)

Satsuki – It’s my pleasure. It’s amazing how many people feel some sort of inner connection with Kyoto. It’s just one of those places that has true soul! Lucky you for having family to visit there!

Fanny, Patti, Devi and Rod – Thanks you guys. You MUST go one day. Honestly it’s such a special place. I’ll get around to posting more places to visit soon so stay tuned!

Jinnie – Ono Chikkyo’s works make my heart melt and that particular work is my favourite! Thanks for your comment.

cubbieberry — 13 July at 03:28PM

Oh Justine! such lovely lovely pictures! Took my breath away with all those gorgeous paper goodies! Paper heaven in Kyoto! Must. Go. There. Thank you for sharing them on your blog!

Justine — 13 July at 08:41PM

Thanks so much Jennifer! I love sharing stuff like this. It makes me happy :)

Small Caps — 14 July at 07:46PM

Oh wow. Benrido looks like a greeting card heaven. Thanks for all the links I keep them for my visit!

hiki — 14 July at 08:26PM

so so lovely, your finds and all the photos. makes me want to go back to kyoto (maybe not right now as it would be hotter than tokyo!). you would love kanazawa too, i want to see kanazawa through your eyes! ;)

Justine — 15 July at 09:44AM

Small Caps – Yes Benrido is wonderful. So much to be inspired by in there. Get bookmarking! There are lots more links to come :)

Hiki – Thanks a lot. I will get to Kanazawa one day! There are so many places I still want to explore. I think I will be 80 years of age and still have places left on my list to see! Thanks for your sweet words.

Jo — 15 July at 01:03PM

I almost hyperventilated reading this post. These are going on my list of my must-do’s!!

shipbuilding — 15 July at 09:00PM

Oh my goodness…I feel faint just reading about these places. Seasonal postcards, tiny books and envelope liners…swoon!

Fen — 16 July at 08:07AM

Absolutely goregeous! Very jealous now!

le — 16 July at 10:30PM

wow wow wow and more wow – just loved seeing all this … lucky you and lucky us that you went :) best le xox

Justine — 17 July at 09:42PM

Jo – Yeeeeaah!

Kim – Oh my goodness the tiny books are even more beautiful in real life. I don’t think I will ever be able to use them. They are too precious. I will just admire them instead :)

Fen & Le – Thanks you guys! Happy you enjoyed this one. xo

Ceci — 21 July at 03:11AM

love, love, love! my heart has melted again… and my mind is in Japan again.

Mishiko — 03 August at 11:06AM

I heart this post. The images are divine! Thanks for making me want to jump on a plane again and head to Japan right this minute!

Justine — 04 August at 09:42AM

Thanks Mishiko. They make me want to do the same! It’s truly an amazing place Japan. So happy you like the images :)

Bibiana Lo — 24 September at 03:40PM

Inspiring!! I will be in Kyoto in Nov and would love to visits the shops, somehow I found difficulties to locate the addresses. Appreciate if you could help to share the addresses :–).. Much thanks…

Justine — 03 October at 10:21PM

Hi Bibiana, Please let me know what shop/s you wanted the addresses for and I’ll look it up for you. Best, Justine

Stephanie — 06 January at 08:24AM

Thank you for your wonderful list of paper shops in Kyoto. I am fortunate to go to Kyoto in a couple of weeks and would like to visit some if not all of the shops you are listing. Would you mind sending me the addresses for these shops? I only found the address for Uragu so far. Thank you much for your help. Stephanie

Justine — 06 January at 09:10AM

Hi Stephanie, I don’t have the addresses for these places as I just know them from walking around. Please send me an email though and I will email you with some directions which you may find helpful as well as email and phone details for the shops. x

Mary Byington — 20 January at 12:39PM

Lucky me will be in Kyoto in early March. I am dizzy with anticipation. I just put the names of the paper shops in Google Maps Directions, and think I located most of them, or at least nearby. Also, you could copy the address (in Japanese) from each website and put it in Google Maps, Directions. They are all ‘walkable’ near Gion, right, Justine? … and, anyway, part of the adventure is the ‘Lost in Translation’ element. Thank you so much for this entry. It’s a work of art in itself.

Justine — 22 January at 05:11PM

Hi Mary, lucky you! I’m glad you have been able to locate them on Google maps. I am kind of hopeless with maps so it’s good for others to know they can find these places on there too. Thank you for your tip! Yes they are all walkable indeed. It’s a good way to go as you’ll end up discovering so many other places along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with directions. The locals are so kind and so helpful. Just take a printout of the shop name and address in Japanese so they are able to assist more easily. It might save you a lot of time which is valuable during short stays. Have a wonderful time!!

Megan — 31 May at 09:55AM

Thanks, Justine!

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