The flea market at the Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto is held every 25th of the month, spring thru winter, rain or shine. It's one of my favourite places to shop and I usually try to schedule my trips to include a visit to the market.
On this trip, we opted to go after lunch avoiding the normally thick morning crowd.
While the early shoppers would have snagged good buys, there are so many vendors and a variety
of merchandise that you will not run out of unique and interesting finds. And of course, as it gets nearer to closing time, most of the vendors are willing to give bigger discounts.
The huge stone lanterns lining the path are almost obscured by the many stalls. At the very end, you can see the second torii that stands just before the impressive romon, the wooden two storey gate built in the 16th century.
You will never go hungry at the flea market. There are numerous stalls selling all kinds of food and snacks. Like these giant sweet potato fries that look so crisp and inviting.
The tantalising smells of this yakisoba stall waft through the market practically seizing you by the nose and inviting you to dig in.
Want to eat as you walk? While munching while walking is not really done in Japan, you could probably be forgiven if you could not resist this roasted sweet corn on the cob.
These farmers were selling their homegrown yuzu and were even giving passers by free sips of fresh squeezed juice.
I made a beeline for my favourite stall at the market. Since I can't read Japanese, I like to call him Bacon Man. This guy sells rice wrapped in bacon, roasted with a teriyaki style sauce then slathered with your choice of topping. It's chock full of umami deliciousness not to mention, fat and some cholesterol too.
There are an assortment of stuff -- one man's junk could be your treasure. Those hand sewn bags made of old obi are good buys. Or how about some english style tea cups?
I much prefer the Japanese style ceramics. There are many sellers that have both brand new and previously used wares. I find that the vintage used bowls and cups are more to my liking.
I am always happy to see these pre-loved obi and coats. Some can be had for as low as 500 yen. The more elaborate and luxurious ones can sell for so much more. But Jay reminds me that I have bins full of these at home so I have to regretfully walk away.
This is the intricately carved, beautiful wooden gate, the romon. The Kitano Tenmangu is popular with students who visit to pray for success in their exams and studies so it's not surprising to see young people in their school uniforms at the shrine.
The flea market is so big, with hundreds of vendors, that the stalls spill out on the side streets surrounding the shrine. Don't forget to explore and walk around or you might miss that one thing you were meant to buy.
I thought these wooden black boxes were so interesting, particularly the lacquer one in the foreground.
There are more pre-loved yukatas or casual kimonos which are perfect for summer wear.
Can you believe that these sell for just 500 yen each?
If you thought that 500 yen was a good deal, this stall offers everything you can pack in a big plastic bag for 3,000 yen (or in a small bag for 1,500 yen). And yes, shoppers were stuffing their bags to overflowing. It was an amazing bargain but Jay was making strangling noises behind me so I had to tear myself away.
How about some antique cameras? I am sure they don't work but would make nice souvenirs for a photography buff.
Every time I go to a flea market, there is always an item or two that I like to call "the one/s that got away". This time it was these old wooden lamps, on the top right of this photo.
They were so unique and obviously handmade but so big and quite heavy. They would never have fit in my suitcase or in my carry-on.
It was late afternoon and most of the vendors had started to put their wares away -- to be kept and stored until the next month.
If you're planning a trip to Kyoto .... try to be here on the 25th so you can delight in the many pleasures and treasures of the Kitano Tenmangu flea market.
Jay and I didn't walk out empty handed. Our favourite purchases were these light woven hats ... just perfect for walking around sunny, summery Kyoto!