The best market experience in Kyoto: Handicrafts, Street foods, and antique stalls

You can't claim to have had the full Kyoto experience if you haven’t visited its popular markets while in Japan. Kyoto markets for the locals have adapted to the tourist crowds, both local and foreign, over the years. From old and famous sites to modern districts, the shopping never ends!

Table of Contents

  1. Why Visit Kyoto Markets?
  2. Famous Markets in Kyoto
  3. Kyoto Flea Markets
  4. Unique Shopping Streets to Visit
  5. Shop, Shop, Shop

Why Visit Kyoto Markets?

In Japan, you can taste both antiquity and modernity because of its well-maintained culture, tradition, and history in a country with advanced and futuristic technology. And one of the leading areas in Japan that could give you that sweet combination is Kyoto. 

Kyoto has been the ancient capital of Japan and is considered the most traditional city in Japan. Many unique aspects of Japanese culture are said to originate in this historical city making it one of the cultural heritage sites in Japan thanks to the well-preserved sites and attractions that people can visit. However, Kyoto is also competitive against other prefectures in terms of modernity and technology, which is prevalent in the modern architecture and buildings established in the place. 

The best way to experience this combination of antiquity and modernity of the entire city is through the many markets around the district that incorporate the atmosphere of the past and the future. These markets have mixed the traditional and modern vibes of Kyoto, creating a well-executed and refreshing balance, offering a wide array of goods like traditional snacks, souvenirs and even cultural items like kimono. The Kyoto markets play a big role in providing goods to the locals that are also equally accessible to foreigners.

Famous Markets in Kyoto

Check out these two famous markets in Kyoto and what they have to offer to you.

Popular Handicrafts at Hyakumanben Tezukuri-Ichi Market

Are you looking for unique souvenirs and authentic Japanese crafts? Then head straight to Tezukuri-Ichi Market located on the premises of Chion-Ji Temple. This market is known for selling many cool handicrafts as the name - Tezukuri (handmade) - suggests. Any handmade products that you can imagine are here from pottery, jewelry, wood carvings, and musical instruments to ceramics, bags, organic soaps, and many more. There are also Japanese artwork and delicacies that you can find in the many stalls scattered on the temple yard. The market also has a refreshing and relaxing atmosphere, especially in spring and autumn because of the tree leaves that either bloom or change their colors during these seasons, so you won’t mind spending a few hours looking and roaming around the entire place. Tezukuri-Ichi Market is held every 15th of the month. 

Best Traditional Food at Nishiki Market

Are you craving something, or do you want to taste new dishes? Nishiki Market should be your target if you are looking for good food. The market has everything related to food, sells fresh and local ingredients, as well as hosts several restaurants and food stalls. With more than 100 stalls lining the street, you can find everything your palate asks for, from famous delicacies to unique and unfamiliar dishes that you should taste. You can also buy some fancy Japanese kitchenware and ornate table accessories that can also be a great souvenir option. Nishiki Market is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM. As it’s super popular and the street quite narrow, you may experience a crowd, so be mindful of where you stand when you stop! 

Kyoto Flea Markets

Buy quality and unique products at reasonable prices in some of these flea markets in Kyoto:

Toji Flea Market

The Toji Flea Market is located on the temple grounds of Toji Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site in Kyoto. The temple is also one of the important Shingon temples of Japanese Buddhism. Because of its location, the flea market is peacefully and divinely quiet, making it a great place to ponder and relax. The Toji Flea Market is famous for selling a wide variety of objects, from kimono and sculptures to antiques, local beauty products, pottery, foods, toys, and religious items that you can purchase in different stalls. Toji Flea Market is open to the public every 21st of the month.  

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine’s Flea Market

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is an important shrine for Shintoism. The shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician who was exiled from his elite position at the Heian court by his rivals due to political conflicts. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is visited by many tourists not just to pay tribute to Sugawara, the patron of the shrine and the “god of education”, but also to appreciate the beauty of the place, especially during autumn when the leaves of the maple trees in the garden are breathtaking. Tourists also flock to the shrine every 25th of the month to explore the shrine's flea market. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's Flea Market is one of the largest and well-known markets in Kyoto. It hosts everything from food stalls that sell different snacks and meals to stalls for local artists and their work. There are plants, crafts, Japanese clothes, antiques, decorations, accessories, and many secondhand goods. 

Other Visit-worthy Flea Markets

Umekoji Park Handicrafts Market

A spacious market in a very accessible location (located near the JR Kyoto Station) is the Umekoji Park Handicrafts Market. Here, you can shop every first Saturday of the month except for the month of January and May, for different kinds of stuff you can imagine and other handmade products comfortably at your pace.

Heianraku Ichi Market

Located in Okazaki Park, buy secondhand and preloved items at affordable prices and promote handicrafts by conducting workshops so visitors can learn how to do them on their own. The flea market is held every second Saturday of the month.

Komachi Tezukuri Ichi

Appreciate the beauty of plum trees blooming in spring while shopping for different handicrafts, plants, and vegetables in Komachi Tezukuri Ichi. You can have a taste of local sweets while appreciating the view of Zuishinin Temple where the market is held. 

Unique Shopping Streets to Visit

Looking for more unique marketplaces to visit? Try the following two shopping destinations:

Teramachi Street

Located at the center of Kyoto’s main shopping district, you can find Teramachi Street or also known as the Temple Town. This is a great destination for religious and spiritual persons because there are so many religious items you can find here like prayer beads, candles, and incense. There are other shops as well available for your clothing, reading, and art needs in the market, making it one of the most visited shopping streets in Kyoto.

Sanjo-kai Shotengai 

Sanjo-kai Shotengai, or Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, is the longest roofed and uninterrupted shopping street in Japan. It has countless family-run businesses and shops and many other local stores lining the entire almost a kilometer covered street. The huge number of stores and shops provide guests a wide array of choices to shop for different products and souvenirs. The shopping arcade is wide and spacious thus ensuring visitors a comfortable shopping experience. 

Shop, Shop, Shop

There are so many things you can enjoy in Japan, sightseeing, food tripping, and of course, shopping. One of the shopping destinations in the country that you should not miss is Kyoto. There are so many unique and fancy markets and shopping places in Kyoto that offer varieties of products that are worth buying for. Most of these marketplaces are in great locations like temples, shrines, and parks, so you can also enjoy the scenic views while carrying your bags of souvenirs. 


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