Kyoto is a foodies paradise. From artistic kaiseki ryori to many “ethnic” restaurants, neighborhood noodle shops to high-end Franco-Japanese fusion cuisine, Kyoto has many wonderful dining options. For those more inclined to actually going to the market and shopping for their dinner, Kyoto also is blessed with one of Japan’s most colorful and varied food markets: Nishiki Market.
Located in downtown Kyoto, it is easily accessible from the subway or many bus routes. Nishiki Market is on a narrow street that is parallel to and one block north of Shijo Dori, one of the main boulevards in Kyoto. From Shijo Station on the Karasuma subway line or Karasuma Station on the Hankyu Line, you can walk to the Market in about eight minutes. The market runs for about 400 meters, or many city blocks. It is narrow and packed on both sides with stalls that sell vegetables, seaweed, tofu, fish, sweets, and trinkets, and much more.
Nishiki was established some 400-years ago, and continues to draw in locals and tourists alike. Recently, as those with money have fled the growing crassness of the Shijo-Kawaramachi shopping area—formerly the place to shop and be seen in Kyoto, but lately overrun by karaoke shops, pachinko parlors, and teenagers—in favor of the Karasuma area, Nishiki has seen its clientele and fortunes swell.
On a recent swing through the market just before lunch, I sampled my way up and down the street. Nishiki is both a feast for the eyes and stomach.
The first store I came to had shrimp and oysters laid out on a bed of ice. A bit farther down there was a maneki neko cat beckoning passersby to come in and shop. Other beautifully arranged items included bags of sweets, beans floating in a giant wooden tub, and lovely little purses.
The arcade that houses the market is covered, so neither sun nor rain will spoil a day out. Be ready for the crowds of people.
Information on Kyoto
Friday, January 27, 2006