Kyoto, the old capital of Japan was the seat of power for almost a thousand years before the modernization of the country began and the power shifted to Tokyo. We have extensively covered about its historic places that are icons of old Japan and the nobility that lived there. Now, it is mostly a tourist resort that welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors both from Japan and abroad.
If you are looking to spend some time in ancient Japan, your journey will be incomplete without savoring the real taste of traditional food and to do that, there is no better place to shop than Nishiki Market.
The first shop started selling ingredients to its customers back in 1310, so it has a commercial history of more than 700 years and has seen several empires start, prosper and fall, but the amazing local food is something that didn’t change over the years. The market is a narrow quarter-mile long shopping street laden with all the ingredients that you will need for the perfect traditional Japanese meal.
There is sushi, local sweets, dried seafood, pickled vegetables, and other Kyoto specialties sold at reasonable prices at the Nishiki Market. It is a one-stop shop for buying groceries. It is commonly called Kyoto’s Kitchen around the area and people regularly flock towards it to stock their kitchen.
Like any traditional Japanese market, the shopkeepers are overly courteous and even offer free samples of their products, both cooked and raw as a friendly gesture. In my opinion, there is nothing better than experiencing some exotic foreign dish in some foreign land, free of charge! There is a whole range of culinary delights that Kyoto is famous for. The sizes of shops vary from narrow roadside vendors with their open-air stalls to air-conditioned two story buildings. How Asian, huh?!
Most of the stalls specialize in only one kind of ingredient but the bigger ones stock more than enough options for an entire restaurant. Almost everything here is locally procured and processed since Japanese dishes rarely use foreign ingredients due to centuries of isolation from the rest of the world.
If all of the fishes and ingredients make your stomach rumble, there are also a few restaurants and vendors selling freshly prepared food for you to enjoy on the go.
Many of these shops have been operated by the same families for generations and they take pride in their family work and tradition. Ancient Japan had merchants at the bottom of the social spectrum to keep their version of the feudal system at place. Now westernization brought liberal values to Japan, even so it is nice to see that Japanese people took pride in their ancestor’s’ work even when the social shackles were lifted from the country.
The market lies parallel to the Shijo Avenue, a few hundred feet away and is easily accessible from the nearest Shijo Station that runs on the Karasuma Subway Line. The price of the items depends on store to store, so having a Japanese friend along with you might be a good idea. The language barrier is forever present so simple understanding like numbers and names of the ingredients will help you a long way in ensuring you get really good deals from the shopkeepers.
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Address: 609 Tomikouji Tori Shijo Noboru Nishidaimonji-cho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
30 minute walk from Kyoto Station
7 minute walk from Kawaramachi Station
8 minute walk from Shijo Station
Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Website: Nishiki Market (Japanese)