Toji Market Day

Almost a month ago now a couple of friends and I went to the Toji Temple Markets. This flee market is held only once a month, on the Toji Temple grounds in Kyoto, on the 21st of each month. Lucky for us, this time it fell on a Sunday, so we didn’t have any university commitments to attend to! やった!

So I bundled up my trusty film camera, dropped a couple of colour rolls into my bag, and off we went!

toji009editUnfortunately it was a bit of an overcast day, and at times it did rain a little, so some of the images are a little grim-looking. But this may have been a good thing, as it kept some of the crowds away! (Also, please ignore the dust on the photos. They were just quick scans)

If you are ever in Kyoto at this time of the month, and would like to visit the markets, I would definitely suggest coming early in the morning! Especially if the market is on a weekend. We got there around 9 or 10am, and by the time we left around 1pm, the crowds were so dense we could barely move, and the atmosphere in general became far less pleasant. (Geez some of these Japanese grandmothers are fierce!)

Anyways, here are some of the lovely foods and goodies we found there.

toji006editDried Strawberries (I got some crystallised ginger from one of these shops. So good!)

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Hand-printed bags (I really wish I’d bought one!)

toji010editClay Animal flower-stands

toji016edit Fat Cat Hangerstoji019edit An array of Japanese antiques, statues and ceramics! Beautiful!toji023edit Traditional Maskstoji030editBeautiful fabrics toji013editAnd of course delicious-looking food! toji035edit toji037editThis place was my favourite. The line was quite long, but they looked so darn good I just had to have one! And they were only 100 yen each!!
Sandwiched between the two pancakes was sweet red bean paste with a small piece of chestnut. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely love Japanese sweets! So this was a definite highlight for me. A Japanese man even walked past us and tried to explain that these are “very rare” (said in Japanese). I’m assuming this little shop must be quite famous among the locals, as it was the only place with a line!

toji012edit toji022edit

There was also a small area at one of the wooden temples where we could pray. People were throwing coins into a wooden box before praying, then before they descended the steps, many people would try to rub the smoke from these incense sticks into their hair, clothes and skin. It was very peculiar to watch. When I asked my Japanese friend why they were doing this, she said “it is good for your head”. She then proceeded to waft the smoke over her, telling me it would be good for her studies. It seemed a little strange, but wanting to experience as much of the culture as possible, I gave it a go too! (Actually it smelt quite nice)

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After battling the crowds for a few hours we finally came to the end of the market. A lot of it was just food and Japanese candies, but if you look hard enough you can find some real gems at these markets! There are heaps of second-hand yukatas and kimonos for only 1000 yen (about $10 AUD), which would be great for anyone looking for gifts, or even for crafters looking for cheap good-quality fabric. I definitely recommend it!

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