On Saturday, rested and ready to explore our new town of Kyoto, we set out on a walk to see several of the many, many temples scattered throughout the city.

 

One thing to note about Kyoto: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is SO WELL DRESSED. So much so that I was taking mental notes with each new person who walked by and wondering if fashion 101 was a prerequisite course to applying for an address here. I even contemplated snapping pictures of passerbys’ outfits for the blog, but then thought better of it (the foreign girl sticks out enough, no need to be even crazier) and we continued walking.

 

Until….

 

We were completely sidetracked by an adorable collection of little alleyways filled with colorful and inviting looking shops and stalls! Each one appeared to be selling something different, everything from seafood to Japanese snacks and gifts. Collectively, we found out, these shops and stalls make up the Nishiki Market.

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Since we were now outside of Tokyo, this was the first we had seen of a smaller and more traditional Japanese market, and it was so fun to walk through!

 

There was much to take in. I wandered around snapping pictures and couldn’t stop smiling. Many of the shop’s owners called out, inviting us to come survey their goods. In some stalls, samples were available: little cups of pickled vegetables and tiny sips of rice wine! The place was bustling and lively (in a not TOO busy kind of way), with what looked like both tourists and locals.

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After reading up on the market we found out that it has been around (though in more of a wholesale market form, initially) since 1310! Supposedly, many of the shops and stalls have been run by the same families for generations.

 

Although there was so much in this little market to keep our eyes and taste buds happy, I couldn’t help but be frustrated by the language barrier. I’m sure there would have been so much we could have learned from the merchants had we been able to chat a bit with them.

 

Since I didn’t know any Japanese, instead I just took pictures…..

 

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Baskets and baskets of (fermenting?) vegetables.

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Tiny squid.

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A variety of pickled things!

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Crystalized and sweetened ginger–sooo good.

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Sweets! These were made fresh right there in the stall…..

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By this man! They were so good we bought a variety bag and snacked on them all day.The ginger ones made what we Americans call “ginger snaps” taste seriously like cardboard in comparison.

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Freshly made cuttlefish cakes.

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more yummy snacks.

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and more…..

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and more….

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And….tofu donuts?? That was one thing we did not try…..

 

All in all, roaming through this market was a great way to spend a few hours, and it got me excited about Japan and it’s history in a way that Tokyo had yet to do.

 

 

And….we even picked up a few souvenirs!

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-Kirsten