| | |

Nishiki Market Kyoto: Paradise of Seasonal Food

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!

Fresh salad found in Kyoto's Nishiki Market
Fresh salad found in Kyoto's Nishiki Market

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).

Squid pops in Kyoto Nishiki Market
Squid pops(!) in Kyoto Nishiki Market

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.

Chestnuts in Kyoto Nishiki Market
Seasonal chestnuts found in the market.

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.

Row of stall and vendors in the in Kyoto Nishiki Market
A row of stall and vendors.

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.

Daniel sharing his knowledge with me in Kyoto Nishiki Market
Daniel sharing his knowledge with me.

[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.

Beautiful colored glass ceiling in Kyoto Nishiki Market
The beautiful colored glass ceiling

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

Tempura everything in Kyoto Nishiki Market
Tempura everything!

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!

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.

How about you? Do you like food markets? Where is your favorite one?

Like it? PIN it!

Kyoto's Nishiki MarketKyoto's Nishiki MarketKyoto's Nishiki Market

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Stew Ross says:

    One of our favorite markets is in the village of Versailles (France). Most people who visit the Versailles Palace have no idea that a village exists. It is quite historical and the food is great (we had the best frites ever in the village). There is a market no one should miss. It is located in the Place du Marche Notre-Dame (intersection of Rue du Marechal Foch and Rue de la Pourvoierie). There are four separate markets, each concentrating on a different food type. Located in the northwest corner is the entrance to the Hotel du Bailliage. Built in 1724, it served as the law court and prison (public executions were held in the Place du Marche Notre-Dame). You can enter here and go through the Passage de la Geole (Passage of the Jail). It was here during the French Revolution that prisoners were kept until their trial (and the usual death sentence). Madame du Barry was once imprisoned here. Enjoy the food and the history. The market is open on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings. Don’t forget to wander around the village. It’s just as fascinating as the palace.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Stew, thanks for sharing. I myself have enjoyed many hours exploring the other parts of Versailles and agree that there are plenty of hidden gems in this village most people miss. I had one of the best kebabs of my life here!

  2. This market looks incredible and if it’s the source of good quality, well priced food – even better! I loved La Boqueria in Barcelona, it’s quite a touristy market but the food on offer is incredible, there was a South American stall and I went to town with buying as many arepas and tamales as I could!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Naomi, it is a foodie’s dream!

  3. Katie @ Domestiphobia says:

    Okay. When you and Mr. Misadventures team up for a post, it’s incredible! The visuals!! I want to be there… like now. Can Justin and I tag along on your next vacation??!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Katie, absolutely! You and Justin look like you would be up to lots of foodie adventures!

  4. Sophie Friedman says:

    Andi, great to hear you so enjoyed yourself with Daniel! The photos are lovely, too – they being me right back to Kyoto (and are making me very, very hungry). What markets did you visit in Osaka? I’ll be there in April and plan to eat my way around.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Sophie, Daniel was awesome, more posts about the market (where Daniel reappears) coming up. We ate many meals, including one entirely made up of several types of tuna for $20 (for 2!) at Kuromon Ichiba in Osaka.

  5. precious mae says:

    I’d probably love this place. I love my food most especially seafood! My mouth waters just by looking at the squid.

  6. Gloria Walshver says:

    When I traveled to israel a few years ago I had the opportunity to eat different kind of foods which i normally don’t in America.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Gloria, I am sure they have amazing food markets in Israel!

  7. Great photos. Did you guys enjoy the squid on a stick? Sometimes I like it and sometimes I find it very chewy.

  8. Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says:

    What an amazing place! Food always plays a central role in my travels as well. Visiting the markets, grocery stores, and restaurants are often among the top highlights of my trips. Beautiful photos – love the one of the chestnuts, just gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Kimberly, my pleasure, thanks for visiting! I just naturally gravitate to food and the stories it tells.

  9. @Travelpanties says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and now I have one more reason! I love exploring the food of different cities. This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @TravelPanties, it is awesome, definitely worth a visit!

  10. Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says:

    Markets really are the way to go whether you travel in the U.S. or abroad. There really is no better way to get a feel for the local food scene better. This Japanese market looks amazing! I am completely by fascinated by how the temple is a source of cool drinking water- such a cool piece of history! 🙂

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Carrie, it is an awesome way to see how the locals eat! It also tends to save a lot of money.

  11. I love exploring markets! My husband and I are the same … he picks the activities and I make sure we’re well fed. I’ve favorited this for when we visit Japan!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Rachelle, there is a great market in Osaka and Tokyo too!

  12. Franc Ramon says:

    The grilled squid looks really tasty. The other fried foods looks good too. It would be fun eating here.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Franc, it definitely was, and after a week, there were still things we didn’t get a change to try!

  13. Masshole Mommy says:

    The food there looks amazing. Now I’m hungry!

  14. Amanda Young says:

    Wow what great Pictures. Food soothes my soul as well, i imagine my soul is overweight ;P

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Amanda, oh love that saying, and I know mine is too!

  15. Beautiful photos! I hope everything tasted as good as it looks.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Nina, it did, trust me I tried a lot!

  16. michele d says:

    Great pictures of the different kinds of foods. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Oh wow, that food looks absolutely wonderful. I would love to visit Kyoto someday.


    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @JoAnna, I hope you get there someday!

  18. I’m going to have to check this market out if I come back to Japan. I miss the culture and food there as well. Sometime’s food drives me on my destination as well.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Tamika, what parts of Japan have you visited?

  19. Terri Ingraham | Sugar Free Glow says:

    LOVE visiting markets while vacationing. The food looks amazing. My husband has been there but I wasn’t able to go–next time for sure!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Terri, definitely a must do! Did your hubby enjoy it when he visited?

  20. Bonnie @ wemake7 says:

    I love seeing pictures of different foods and places I have never been. It makes me feel like I am there too.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Bonnie, thanks I am glad my post was able to transport you!

  21. XmasDolly says:

    Well, I must say those are some great photos. I always thought it was interesting the way other people live and do things. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @XmasDolly, thanks, I am fascinated by that too which is why I love to travel!

  22. Danielle Stewart says:

    Love, love, love. Food…pictures…adventures….my favorite things (oh and eating!) What a fantastic job! I would love to follow you around and check out where you eat!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Danielle, thanks! I definitely travel via my stomach!

  23. The moment I saw the first photo, I knew your were at some asian market. I visited Taipei this past summer and night markets was one of the places we frequent the most. There is actually one just for foodies lovers, every stall has just food. It was a wonderful experience.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Letty, I haven’t been to a food market in Taipei yet, that last time I was there was a business trip 15 years ago, if I ever go back it is good to know that they have such a great one!

  24. Looks like a fun market! You take really wonderful pictures!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Taylor, thanks! They are mainly my hubby, he has the camera skills!

  25. I love your photos! They capture the food perfectly! I’m sure it is fun to experience all these new things.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Risa, thanks, most of the pictures my hubby took, I was too busy actually trying the food!

  26. Joanna Sormunen says:

    What a wonderful post! I can see the same thing happening in Ecuador. There is this amazing tradition in local and seasonal foods, that young people are leaving aside, so they can eat at McDonalds.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Joanna, well that is too bad, but there is McDonald’s and Coke all over the world, often cheaper for people to eat than going to the grocery store, although I still think markets have to be cheaper. I hope that traditional local foods will still have a place in the world, hate to see them go extinct!

  27. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    I have never been to Kyoto. The food looks amazing. Your photos are stunning. So full of color.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Ann, thanks Ann, the food was as delicious as the photos depict!

  28. Melissa Smith says:

    That market looks just like I envision an outdoor market should be. Fresh, local & in season food should be everywhere!

  29. Wow everything looks so amazing! Now I’m very hungry 🙂

  30. Wow, I’ve never seen any of that food in my life! It must be a huge culture shock on the food alone!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @FamiGami, you just have to take a leap of faith and try, to me it was all so delicious!

  31. That’s a cool tidbit that people still come for water as a sign of good luck (even w/the plumbing now in place). Fascinating read, excellent pictures!

  32. I am not that brave when it comes to food. But the pictures of your experience there are incredible and I feel like I was there with you. What a cool experience!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @MaryAnn, glad I could transport you, you just have to dive in and try. If you don’t like something then you know not to get it again!

  33. Hi Andi,may I know what camera you used to take those lovely photos?

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Damian, it was a combo of iPhone, Fuji EX-1 and a Canon 5D.

  34. Food looks totally delicious, you almost made me hungry 😉