Kyoto has always been known for its traditional Japanese arts - from its tea ceremonies, to the Geisha, Kabuki and Noh performances, and has always exuded an air of elegance. It's no surprise then that it extends to a market known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen' - Nishiki Market. This long and narrow marketplace spans a few blocks that runs parallel to the main Shijo street. It is lined with shops operated by Shokunin or artisans. From making Senbei (rice crackers), to roasting tea or pickled vegetables, you can find the store owners, artisans, and craftsman all doing the one thing they know best and offering that up to us.
2015 marks the 400th anniversary of Nishiki Market. While there are new additions like ice-cream sellers, many of the stores have been passed down for generations and I would imagine that little has changed. There are speciality stores selling fresh produce such as pickles, shichimi-togarashi (7 flavoured chilli powder), seafood and kitchen products. While walking you can pick up snacks from fishcakes, egg rolls, mochi dango rice dumplings, etc, and eat them while on the go.
I found it charming that this traditional market is just behind the main shopping street filled with modern department stores like Takashimaya, Marui and Daimaru. It can be reached on foot in less than five minutes from Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line. You can also take a bus that stops on Karasuma or Shijo Street and walk there.
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My first trip to Japan coincided with SARS and that almost cancelled our trip but I was too stubborn to give up. Traveling on a budget with a friend, we went from Osaka to Hiroshima then up to Hokkaido before heading back up to Tokyo. I had the best time of my life. I was hooked. From then on, every year I made a trip or two. From a week's stay at Ritz Carlton Midtown Tokyo to long stays at organic farms; experiencing a typhoon in Kanazawa to viewing an eclipse in Naoshima; snowboarding in Niseko to Ferry hopping in Shikoku; all unforgettable experiences to me. There’s so much Japan has to offer that no matter how many trips I’ve made, I still cannot get enough of it. Through all the fun planning for my holidays, I even got a bonus of out it. I was selected by JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) to experience Japan based on my itinerary and as part of the requirements, I blogged and did radio interviews during the trip. I love travelling and taking photos and while I've gone to many other places, Japan remains the one country that I always go back to. I've done 14 or 15 trips and I can't wait to do the next one. My photos are up on my instagram handle @piggypants. Feel free to connect there :-)