Rain or shine, Chionji temple in northeastern Kyoto hosts the Hyakumanben flea market on the fifteenth day of each month. The best seasons to visit are spring and autumn where the days are fine and mild. In May the markets coincide with the Aoi Festival which finishes at Shimogamo Shrine nearby, and so there was a friendly atmosphere as the stream of visitors, filled with excitement from the festival, stop by for a chat amongst themselves and with the market stall holders. There was a colorful stall full of miniature water paintings that caught my eye. It turned out that they were covers for face wipes, one of the most popular souvenirs from Kyoto. The stall owner tells me that he has been here for several years; with his wife meticulously hand painting scenes and motifs from old Kyoto.
All the items I saw in the markets were hand made, and it gives you an opportunity to chat with the artisans who have made these products, most of them suitable as an omiyage or gift for a friend or family member. From table lamps made from Whisky bottles, to pastel colored leather key holders, these are the kinds of items you will not find anywhere else. The best way to get here is by bicycle or bus, using routes 17, 102, 201, 203, or 206.
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I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us.