The word flea market alone has such irresistible temptation on me, I conjured the mouthwatering street food, a long stretch of things to see and shop, perhaps even some talents selling their own handmade craft. For Kitano Tenmangu, its definition is way beyond; arcade games and goldfish scooping for some joyous moments while unbelievably cheap Recycle Kimono going as low as 1,000yen, and also the breathtaking bloomed plum trees all over the compound.
To get there, we took Kyoto City Bus number 101 (or 50) from JR Kyoto station Platform B2 for 230yen. The 30 minutes bus journey was an enjoyable one. As the bus passing through corners of the city, I wondered about the buildings, people that passed by and Kyoto in a whole. This is, after all, the common Kyoto life unseen from tourists.
It did not take long for us to figure out the flea market location. Upon getting off at Kitano Tenmangu stop, we saw an array of stalls lining up, and we knew that this would be it. This monthly flea market on every 25th was not on a considerably big scale, but more than enough for us to spend half day here.
Came famished, we ordered almost everything within our sight; Oden, Yakisoba, Ramen, Karaage, Sweet Potato…and the list went on. Given the soup person I am, I constantly crave for that piping hot broth, and miss the steam swirling its way out. As much as I like the thick broth and rich flavor of Tonkotsu Ramen, Oden is the one that would always win my heart. Its soy-flavored dashi (broth) is clear, light, and brings up the sweetness within each ingredient at the same time. I became so addicted to it, especially the Daikon (white radish) that absorbs essence from the broth it is a must to eat everyday while I was at Japan. I would buy only 2 Daikon in a big bowl of broth, without add-on noodles and other toppings, and then pretend that the conbini staff wasn’t looking at me one kind. We had so much even my travel companions, aka the ladies can differentiate which conbini has better Oden broth or Daikon. Oden is now officially my caffeine.
The Shoyu Ramen came in 2 pieces of ChaShu (slices of meat log), Menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoot) and lots of Negi (Japanese spring onion) upon request.
There was also a small flower market within the flea market itself. We marveled at the beautiful daisy, ranunculus, chrysanthemum and flowers which the names are unknown to us. My sister was right about the ranunculus blooming size in Japan, and they are in so many vibrant colors other than the usual pale white or baby pink available in Malaysia. Being one of my favorites, ranunculus has its own unique texture that is so soft, fluffy and delicate; touching it would be like caressing a fledgling.
Lots of interesting things to look for here, including customization of Shicimi (7 spices) or Ichimi (1 spice), some vintage sailing items, adorable pin cushion, handmade wooden cutlery and cover for blotching paper.
Another highlight of the flea market would be the exceptionally cheap Recycle Kimono (Used Kimono) going for as low as 1,000yen each. The varieties are many, and they come not only from one, but several stalls as well. Some of Kimono may not be of silk quality but rather the wool ones. Also, the condition might not be as decent, thus thorough check before purchase is highly recommended. Having said so, some of the stalls do provide options of higher grade or better condition Kimono. Occasionally, if you are lucky enough, wedding Kimono might be the guest of honor.
Indulge in the fun of classic arcade game, or Goldfish Scooping (金魚すくい, Kingyo-sukui), one of the traditional Japanese games.
On the ground of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine lie many bloomed plum trees there is really no need to pay extra 600yen for the allocated plum groove. Plum flower, which I deemed as one of the intricate works of art by nature’s creator, has its beauty in so many ways I couldn’t decide the best one, and boy I must have taken over a thousand photos just on them alone.
If you happen to be at Kyoto on every 21st, I heard that the flea market at Toji Temple has much more to be explored.
*Visited on 25th March 2014