Nishiki market is centuries old and specializes in a variety of food products like seafood, rice, seasonal products and home wares. It’s much smaller than the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, but just as interesting if you are a foodie. Many of the vendors hand out free samples and sell small meals/snacks if you would like to sample the food. Stalls of freshly fried tempura, sushi and freshly baked cookies tempt you in every direction. In addition, there are several restaurants in the area that offer delicious and affordable meals. Many only have menus on display in Japanese, but you can always ask if they have a menu in English. Often the restaurant does and often they also offer lunch specials with sets that include soup, entree, and tea for under U$10.
I have mentioned before my love for markets and the experience of seeing, smelling and tasting foods from the source. I also love to observe how business is done at markets. It speaks to the norms in that culture. One thing you will notice in Japan is that no one touches the money directly. You are always handed a tray into where the money or card is supposed to be placed. Also, there is no short-changing or haggling. This may be a little boring if you like to banter with vendors, but I quite like it. You can trust the vendor and that you are not being ripped off just because you are a traveler.
In addition, the product is displayed with great care and in many shops. even if you buy a small item, it’s carefully wrapped and handed to you like it’s worth a million bucks. One of the many customs I wish the rest of the world would borrow from the Japanese.
For those reasons, I put Nishiki Market on my list when visiting Kyoto and I could have easily spent a day here- breakfast, lunch and dinner with shopping in between. There are several artisanal shops for sweets and handcrafted goods if you are in the hunt for unique gifts. And if you are into tea, Kyoto is the best place for buying matcha. At Nishiki market, you can even watch it as the tea leaves are ground into fine powder.
Have you been to Nishiki Market?