After more than 1,000 years as the traditional arts centre of Japan, Kyoto is a treasure trove for shoppers looking for unusual artefacts. The best buys can be difficult to find, so ask the advice of hotel concierges who have passed the Kyoto government's local-knowledge examinations (a handful pass each year). Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa's in-house expert, Kyoko Kodama, recommends the following for a shopping spree. For traditional handmade wallpaper and screens, step into Karacho (620 Suiginya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, tel: 81 75 353 5885). Established in 1624, the paper-design house is renowned throughout Japan for its elegant patterns and excellent craftsmanship. Prices range from reasonable to nail-bitingly high: table runners are 8,000 yen (HK$600) while fans cost from 10,500 yen. Elaborately decorated folding screens are considerably more expensive, at 250,000 yen. Ichimura Mamoru (151 Komatsu-cho, Yasaka-dori, Yamato-oji-dori Higashi-iru, tel: 81 75 561 7355) is famous for producing ukiyoe prints (images of the floating world) using old woodblock-printing techniques. A hint of interest in how it's done will find you sipping green tea seated on a tatami mat as the master printer demonstrates how 100 pressings produce one delicate print. Prices range from 4,000 yen, depending on detail. Ichiya (Choboya, Shijo-agaru, Hanamikoji, Higashiyama-ku, tel: 81 75 561 5584) is where geiko (the Kyoto term for 'geisha') go for their exquisitely decorated geta (sandals). Precarious 3-inch lacquered platform sandals are 39,000 yen while children's geta with bright red velvet straps cost from 18,900 yen. The wearable works of art are surprisingly comfortable. Allow time for an individual fitting. At Nakagawa Senshoku (Nawate-dori, Shinmonzen-agaru, Higashiyama-ku, tel: 81 75 561 0065) you'll find noren, the traditional split curtains hung between rooms or in doorways. Shizuo Inumaru, 68, is the only craftsman in Japan who still uses the traditional freehand outline writing system to decorate noren. Widely regarded as a master of the art, he is responsible for creating outstanding works for some of Kyoto's most important festivals, taking inspiration from the 2,000 or so ancient patterns he has committed to memory. Prices start at less than 10,000 yen and rise to what Inumaru says is an 'unlimited' amount. When the Portuguese arrived in Japan in the 16th century, they brought playing cards with them. The Japanese copied them and used intricate woodblock printing to produce exotic designs. Today, at Matsui Tengudo (Kiyamachi, Shomen-agaru, tel: 81 75 371 0829), Shigeo Matsui is the sole maker of these karuta, utilising techniques taught to him by his father and grandfather and using Edo-era brushes and dyes. Still played throughout Japan over New Year, a set of 48 exquisitely decorated hand-printed cards costs a mere 5,000 yen while a special boxed set of 200 larger, colourful game cards is 45,000 yen. On the 21st of each month, the grounds of the Toji temple, a 15-minute walk southwest of Kyoto Station, are transformed into Japan's largest and oldest flea market (Kujo, Minami-ku, tel: 81 75 691 3325). Walk past the clothing and household bric-a-brac to find antique kimonos and obi belts, war memorabilia, calligraphy, tea ceremony artefacts and intricately dressed Japanese dolls (above) at the far end of the market. A smaller market for antiques is held at the temple on the first Sunday of each month.