Going shopping at Nishiki Market

This was one of my favorite experiences in Kyoto – the Nishiki Market is a bit of a grab bag, with both food and textiles, and a few souvenirs thrown in for good measure. The market is an alley just one block off the main drag, and is at least 5 blocks long. It’s only wide enough for about 3 or 4 people, so it can be a tight squeeze past the produce. But it was nicely covered with stained glass (which was particularly great in the drizzling rain), and there were so many interesting smells to contemplate that I didn’t mind the enclosed space so much.

The above pic is of one of the souvenir shops in the market. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were selling – some kind of dangling stuffed animal – but they had a lot of it!

Here you can see barrels and barrels of fruit and veg. Some of it can figure out, but some I can’t. Any idea what those tubular orange things are?

A bit of a stereotypical picture, I’m afraid. I always hate it in the guidebooks to the Middle East or Africa, where they show the market scene with barrels of spices. But if I actually saw it there, I guess that makes it authentic, doesn’t it?  The only thing I can identify in this pic is the lotus fruit. I think the rest might be varieties of seaweed?

The market is really quite old; it began as a fish market sometime in the early 14th century. Apparently many of the stores are family owned and operated, and have been for generations. It’s an important shopping centre for locals and tourists, as it carries many of the Kyoto specialties that are hard to find elsewhere.

I can’t be certain, and I hope I am corrected, but I think that these dried things are actually shark fins. They were VERY expensive!

I see crab, shrimp/prawns, oysters, clams, some kind of sea cucumber (?), and perhaps some brains.

I wish I could tell you what some of these things are, but I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to traditional Japanese cuisine. I know a bag of noodles when I see it, and some of the seafood is self-explanatory, but some other items are totally mysterious.

Alex and I did try some fried stuff on a stick. My general rule when confronted with new foods is that if it can be served on a stick, it’s probably okay. And if it’s fried at least you know it’s been cooked, so fried + stick = have to at least try it.   I got what I think was fried cheese, and it was pretty rubbery. Alex got fried leek and potato, and while it was better, it was still a bit chewy.

This was Alex’s favorite sign in the market – an advertisement for Kirin City. But niether of us could figure out what “Beer Communication” is!!



Posted on 21/12/2011, in travel, Travel to Asia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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