Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Fukuoka Christmas 10 - Foraging (and feeding!) at the Hakozaki Nomi-no-Ichi

One of the few places where you can find something irresistible, quirky, unique, priceless and yet affordable is a local flea market.
In France, these are called marche aux puces (literally, market of fleas), in Madrid, the biggest is called el rastro  and in Japan, the old-timers fondly call them nomi-no-ichi.
By whatever name they are called, flea markets sing out their siren call to me and I can never resist.
I did my research before our trip to Fukuoka and found out one would be held on December 23 -- just in time for our visit. 

Flea markets open and close early so the early birds get the proverbial "worms".  
The Hakozaki -gu Flea Market opens at 7:00 so we set off right after breakfast. 

The bus ride to  Hakozaki-gu took a little over 30 minutes.  I had been here last June but Jay and Gani had not,  so a visit to this third most important Hachiman shrine in Japan was the first priority.   There were more pigeons than shrine goers this early in the morning.

Hakozaki-gu's entrance is guarded by a huge stone torii.  Beyond it is the Hakozaki  Nomi-no-Ichi.  
Some major temples and shrines in Japan hold regular flea markets as the grounds are usually extensive and can accommodate many stalls and shoppers.  
In Kyoto, there are monthly flea markets at To-ji and Kitano Tenman-gu that are extremely popular with both locals and visitors alike.

There are over 200 stalls at the market -- it is probably Kyushu's largest and certainly one of the biggest in Japan.

This shopper has already snagged a prize -- a fabric covered footstool plus some more items in her shopping bag.  Perhaps she's on her way home. 

Like any flea market,  there are all sorts of items for sale, some of it new but most are "pre-owned"
or "pre-loved".
Vendors have set up their stalls from behind their parked vehicles with merchandise carefully arrayed on folding tables.  
This reminds me of Paris week-ends spent at my favourite Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves where cars and even light trucks are squeezed side by side with items for sale spilling out onto the sidewalk.
Of course this being Japan -- things are a lot more neat and orderly.

Jay and I had been looking for a cast iron tea pot and we saw several "good as new" examples at the market.  They were well below department store prices so we were happy to have finally bought

The comical slightly ribald tanuki (a fairytale racoon like creature) is a common sight outside izakayas. Carrying its little sake flask,  it invites you to drop by and have a drink.  We bought a
small tanuki statue from this friendly vendor who gave us a discount -- even before we had asked
for one.
By the way,  as in all flea markets,  good natured and fair haggling is allowed! And in Japan, a
polite  greeting and smile will certainly go a long way.

At every flea market I go to, there is always a stand-out item that I really want but know that I
cannot bring home.  I recall, with some regret --  antique light sconces, ceramic topped apothecary jars, vintage steamer trunks (!),  a large beautiful green leather suitcase ---  and other one-of-a-kind finds that were too fragile or too heavy to lug back home.
Today's most wanted item was this vintage bamboo and rattan rocking chair that stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was definitely a find but would never have fit in my luggage.

Antiques were out in full force.  I wonder how old this child's pedal car is?  Made of tin and wood,
it may not have been in  mint condition but it is still something that a collector would definitely snap up!

I am not sure if this vintage metal wash basin set is actually functional or merely a decorative piece.

Some vendors have added home grown produce to their usual merchandise. 

One of the items I look for in Japanese flea markets are old obis -- those broad sashes that are tied around kimonos.  They are usually made of gorgeous, rich silk brocade.   I have quite a few stashed away so for today,  I was just "looking".

A small scoop of these wooden beads costs 500 yen each.  I have no idea what I will use them for ... 
a Buddha bracelet maybe?  I buy two scoops. They hardly weigh anything and are so pretty that I could not resist. 

Poor, forlorn Teddy -- looking spiffy and clean as he sits with his valise, waiting for some child
to take him home.

These tote bags were re-purposed from old obis and kimonos.  The designs are traditionally Japanese and would make unusual omiyage or pasalubong.  The lady that you see in the photo told me that she makes them herself.  They were a steal at just 500 yen each.  

I am always attracted to traditional Japanese clothing --  at the market, there are haori coats
(loose, worn over a kimono) and happi coats (for informal wear) in different colours and designs
for the different seasons.  
Over the many years of combing through various nomi-no-ichi, I have bought quite a few of these 
coats at unbelievable prices... would you believe 500 yen for a lovely embroidered purple coat?! 
I have recycled and worn them on formal occasions  -- giving a new and fresh look to standard evening dress. 

There are plenty of lacquer ware and beautiful stone and ceramic plates, bowls and cups but these 
are now also available in local Japanese surplus shops.  

Audiophiles and bibliophiles would be happy rooting through boxes and crates of books and vinyl LPs  at the market.

Fancy some vintage toys -- monsters, robots, action figures even some Buddhas or Gods of Fortune?
E.T and Harry Potter are also in attendance.

While flea markets do have food stalls,  I was a bit surprised to see this yakitori stall.   I associate yakitori with boozy evenings in smoky izakayas.  To see one in the middle of a bright morning
was a bit disconcerting.  But there it (happily) was.
The smells of grilled meat over a charcoal fire wafted through the cold air -- reeling us right in.  

No english signs available -- just point to each skewer and ask if it is tori (chicken),  buta (pork) or gyu (beef). 

On the rightmost are tsukune or chicken meatballs.  These are dipped in tare,  a sweetish spicy sauce.   Beside it are skewers of kawa -- the deadly but delicious chicken skin. On the leftmost plate are skewers of horumon or beef and pork offal.

As you order, the grill master finishes cooking up a half-cooked skewer, brushing it several times with his special tare or  sauce. The yakitori in this stall are all tare,  there is no yakitori shio (salt)  which is what I normally order. 

There are tables and plastic chairs so we can enjoy our barbecue at leisure.
While there are no plates we are given paper cups to hold our yakitori sticks. 
Water and other drinks are available from the vending machines nearby.  I would have gotten
a cold beer but it seemed much too early in the day for that.

The yakitori was hot and delicious.  Aside from the tsukune, we also had pork skewers, momo or chicken thigh and mune or lean (and healthier)  chicken breast. I wish I had bought that beer after all.

Despite our limited language skills, we were able to chat with the friendly chef, who was kind enough to allow us to take photos.  
This unplanned and tasty stop was  the perfect way to end a most productive morning foraging through the finds at the Hakozaki-gu Nomi-no-Ichi

NB Thanks to Jay and Gani for some of the photos used in this post!

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