Flee markets: an alternative to shop souvenirs
There are so many things you can bring back home as souvenir from Japan that sometimes, choice and possibilities are overwhelming. It's so difficult to decide which souvenir will please the best to who...
And, everyone does not always enjoy "shopping" per se. So you rush to some kind of souvenir shop and get something, well, anything, in a rush, before departure.
There is a nice alternative for those who a stressed by souvenirs and for all the others too: flee markets!
First of all, it's not all shopping, it is also fun to visit because you will see things that are not sold anywhere else, things for all tastes, from everywhere in the world (even military restock jerrican, one of my last discovery).
You will spend there time that is not lost: you will discover a new face of Japan, and be able to find something to remind ou of Japan, at, what is usually reasonable costs. It might even not be Japanese but something that you would definitely not find home (anymore).
And, yes, you can also negotiate the prizes. Not everywhere but you can try it.
In Kyoto, there are many flee markets, usually in temples. The most famous one is the flee market of Toji, every 21st of the month.
You can get the monthly calendar at any tourist information centers or at your hotels to get the schedule of all the markets. In Kyoto you will see that flee markets are also welcoming artisans so you will be able to get contemporary potteries, accessaries, next to old kimonos (you can get them for around 1000 to 2000 yen. If you like sewing, you can use the kimono to sew yourself a skirt, or a dress... otherwise, the kimono will end up in a closet and that's very sad)
In Tokyo, there are plenty too: Yurakucho flee markets is taking place at the Yurakucho International Forum (the beautiful building shaped as a boat next to the station and Bicamera) every first and third Sunday of the week.
You have one in Yoyogi at irregular dates but once a month (http://antique-market.jp/yoyogi-park/), and another one, every Sunday, one in Aoyama.
There are many others, such as Gokokuji (on Yurakucho line), ar Yasukuni (yes, the Yasukuni), and you have also the "antique shops" of Heiwajima.
This one is located inside a building, on the monorail line. It is huge and for the hardcore flee market lovers: http://www.kottouichi.com/heiwajima/ENGLISH.html
Calendar here: http://www.kottouichi.jp/calendar/calendar-tokyo.htm