Food moves me. It is a driving force in my life and an essential part of how I travel. I am not alone in this journey. My partner in life is my partner in crime and many travel-related decisions are made around food. for us, Nishiki Market in Kyoto was paradise. And it is no surprise that it is known as Kyoto's Kitchen!
As the world gets smaller and a large variety of food is available all year, we lose our respect for the seasons, traditional foods, and the unique local characteristics of food that makes regional differences regional.
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
When the Misadventures family plans its trips, my husband focuses on the activities and sites (particularly from a photographic perspective) and I focus on the food (and all things related to food, although the Misters definitely contribute).
As I was preparing for my trip to Kyoto I was doing my typical research, checking out what other bloggers have had to say about this area of Japan, I came across a truly exceptional piece written by Matt Goulding of Roads & Kingdoms about Japanese cuisine and Kyoto in particular. If you have any interest in Japanese food at all, I implore you to read it.
Kyoto approaches food the way it should be. Seasonally. Locally.
But don't get me wrong. There are more Starbucks in Kyoto than in my own town of Berkeley, they have made their presence known, but after spending a week eating in the city, I can tell you that Starbucks is not a driving force in the lives of the people in this town. However, there is a real danger that it could be. The youth, like everywhere else in the world, may abandon their regional and cultural roots if Japanese cuisine is not protected.
I digress, this is not a post on food politics, it is a love letter to Kyoto and in particular to Nishiki Market, the city's food center for 400 years. Before heading to Kyoto I reached out to my friends at Context Travel to organize a few tours.
As it is a city of temples, I wasn't surprised that there were plenty of tours associated with visiting temples, but I was disappointed there was nothing focused on cuisine. No problem. The wonderful, amazing, smart folks at Context Travel created a custom tour for us focused on Nishiki Market (or Nishiki Ichiba in Japanese) and its surrounding area.
We decided to do the tour first thing in the morning on our first full day. It was my intent to get the lay of the food land at the beginning of our stay so that we could leverage the knowledge for the remainder of our stay.
We met our guide Daniel at the Teramachi arcade on Shijo Dori, one of the main thorough ways in town. As we entered the arcade we visited the Nishiki Tenmangu shrine which faces the Nishiki Market. Before refrigeration, the temple was the source of cold water for the shops and for drinking. And despite the fact that the market now has plumbing, many of the merchants still come for drinking water as it is a source of good luck.
In fact, Kyoto's water is famous (again, if you are interested, read the piece from Roads & Kingdoms) which is why they say the rice and vegetables, well heck everything is so tasty in Kyoto.
As we made our way into the Market, and throughout the morning, Daniel pointed out food history, local specialties, and preparation techniques. As is usual with Context Travel, like all the other docents I have encountered on all my other Context travel tours, Daniel was quietly brilliant. Daniel has lived in Kyoto for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in tourism with a focus on sociology and anthropology. He shared a great deal of detail on the market and the foods we utilized all week.
[In fact, we ate at the market and/or the food courts at the bottom of the Takashimaya department store for nearly the entire week. (We also did this in Osaka.) The result? We brought back half of our vacation budget money!]
The market is a dream for foodies. A whirl of activity and very friendly merchants. There is no way to get lost, just follow the beautiful glass roof.
We sampled and tasted so many new things (so much fresh seafood!) as well as old favorites seen in a new light and with much more appreciation. For the less adventurous, there are still food items and treasures to try like rice crackers that you can find in dozens of varieties, soy sauce
As I have a ton of Nishiki market photos, I am going to share some photo essays below which will allow me to show more food stories from this special place (see photo grid below). Not only is Kyoto a place to have epic culinary adventures, but Japan as a whole!
- Kyoto Food – My Favorite Eats
- Kyoto’s Nishiki Market – Tamago
- Kyoto’s Nishiki Market – The Fish
- Kyoto’s Nishiki Market – Vegetables
- Sushi Pops in Nishiki Market in Kyoto
- Jakuchu Museum And Wine Shop at Nishiki Market
Here is a really great list of delicious Japanese food to try at least once in your life, although in my book you should eat them over and over again!
Practical information & FAQs:
What is the name of Nishiki Market in Japanese?
Nishiki Market is Nishiki Ichiba in Japanese. If you are looking for a sign for the market, look for: Nishiki market 錦 市 場
Where is Nishiki Market? How to get to Nishiki Market?
The location: one block north and parallel to Shijō Street and west of Teramachi Street, a popular shopping street in Kyoto. The market street runs parallel to and one block north of Shijo Avenue. Nishiki Market is accessible from Kyoto Station by subway or bus. If you are using the subway it is a few minutes walk from Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line or Karasuma or Kyoto-Kawaramachi stations on the Hankyu Line.
When does Nishiki Market close?
The Nishiki market hours: Open every day from 9:30-6:00, there are a few national holidays that impact the schedule.
Is there a website for the market?
Yes! It used to be only in Japanese, but as knowledge of the market has increased, they now have an English version.
Are there tours for the Nishiki Market?
Yes! The one I did is Savoring Nishiki Market from Context Travel.
More Context Travel Tours
These are my reviews of the Context Travel Tours I have been on and LOVED!
How about you? Do you like food markets? Where is your favorite one?
Like it? PIN it!
Author Bio: Andi Fisher
Yes, I am a francophile, but after that, I love Japan, especially the food! I have been to Tokyo many times, and spent 2 weeks in Kyoto and a week in Osaka exploring and eating!