- John Asano
Kyoto might be famous for its shrines and temples, but it is also home to an amazing array of food and flea markets. Many shrines and temples will have a once a month market where you can pick up some real bargains and fantastic souvenirs to take home with you. Pretty much anything and everything is for sale including traditional goods such as kimono, ceramics and ukiyoe wood-block prints to modern Japanese goods such as handicrafts and accessories. Here’s a list of the best markets Kyoto has to offer.
Nishiki Market in the Gion area of central Kyoto is often called “Kyoto’s Kitchen” by the locals and is the best traditional food market in the city. Popular with both locals and tourists, it offers you a glimpse into a traditional Japanese shotengai (shopping street). This is the place to find traditional Japanese ingredients such as tsukemono (pickles), Kyo-yasai (Kyoto vegetables), fresh tofu, green tea and fresh fish and seafood, along with many other weird and wonderful foods. There are also takeaway food stalls selling yakitori or sashimi, and even a few sit down restaurants to enjoy.
Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 75-221-4003
Kobo-san Flea Market
The Kobo-san flea market is held on the 21st of each month on the serene grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Toji Temple, 15 minutes’ walk from JR Kyoto Station. The most famous temple market in Japan caters for all your shopping needs with a large variety of products available from over 1,000 stalls. It’s a great place to look for vintage Japanese cultural items such as kimono, obi, wood carvings, scrolls, ceramics and antiques. The morning is the best time to see the biggest variety of goods on offer.
1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 75-691-3325
Tenjin-san Flea Market
The Tenjin-san flea market is held early in the morning, on the 25th of each month at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. There are around 1,000 stalls in and around the shrine selling all kinds of goods, second-hand clothing, kimono, kimono fabric, hand crafts, pottery, antiques, as well as seafood, pickles, and fresh fruit and vegetables. It offers a fantastic chance to pick up some rare treasures at reasonable prices, which make perfect souvenirs from Japan.
931 Bakuro-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 75-461-0005
The Tezukuri-ichi (handmade flea market) is held on the 15th of every month, from dawn to dusk, at Chionji Temple near Kyoto University. This market pretty much sells everything from handicrafts and ethnic clothing to food and pottery. It has around 350 stalls which are particularly devoted to modern handmade items and accessories with a bit of a Japanese hippie vibe. While it does not offer a lot of traditional products compared to other markets, it is an especially friendly down to earth market with a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
102 Tanakamonzen-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 75-531-2111