If you are looking for somewhere to experience the unique food culture in Kyoto, Nishiki Market is definitely the best place to visit. This bustling market has a history of over 400 years and is home to approximately 130 stalls and shops selling a wide variety of tasty local specialties.
Not only locals, but also tourists from around the world flock to the market to enjoy fresh seafood, locally-grown vegetables, and Kyoto’s traditional foods that can only be found here! This complete guide will help you get an idea of the historic shopping street with all the information you need!
- 1. Where and What is Nishiki Market?
- 2. What to try at Nishiki Market
- 3. Where to visit around Nishiki Market
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto
- Other articles you might be interested in
1. Where and What is Nishiki Market?
Nishiki Market (“錦市場” in Japanese) is one of the most famous and busiest markets in Kyoto. Originally opened as a fish market during the Edo period (1603 – 1868), this lively market has served as a popular shopping district among locals for centuries. From JR Kyoto station, it is about a 5-minute subway ride and a 10-minute walk.
This shopping area stretches about 390 meters along Nishiki-koji Street, a stone-paved narrow street that crosses central Kyoto from east to west. Stalls and shops at Nishiki Market offer an endless array of food options, including Kyoto’s traditional specialties as well as reasonably priced delicious sweets.
2. What to try at Nishiki Market
Once you arrive at Nishiki Market, the most important thing is to decide what to choose from the wide range of food options that the market has to offer. Here are our some of our favorites that we recommend you should try when visiting!
Takotamago (Sold at “Kai”)
Takotamago is a popular street food that is exclusively available at the shop known as “Kai” in Nishiki Market. “Tako” means an octopus, and “Tamago” means an egg in Japanese. As you can imagine from the name, it is basically a small octopus that has its head stuffed with a boiled quail egg! The octopus is perfectly cooked with a slightly sweet soy sauce, and the addictive taste is quite rich. You may be surprised by the unique appearance at first, but the taste is unforgettable and pairs well with white rice and alcoholic drinks! They also specialize in selling a variety of traditional delicacies such as “Furikake” (dry seasoning for rice) and appetizers that you can use to make traditional Japanese dishes on your own at home!
Shrimp Tempura Skewer (Sold at “Nishiki Hirano”)
Along with Sushi and Ramen, Tempura is probably one of the most beloved Japanese foods around the world. Nishiki Hirano is a friendly stall that offers more than 50 different types of handmade traditional Japanese side dishes. They are best known for the super long, tasty Shrimp Tempura skewer which is available for 390yen. Enjoy the plump texture of the fresh shrimp covered with the crispy coating of tempura. Don’t forget to try their freshly made rolled omelet which is perfect to take home and enjoy as a side dish!
Yuba (Sold at “YUBAKICHI” & “Hanayori-Kiyoe”)
Yuba is a traditional regional specialty that has been eaten in Kyoto from ancient times. It is basically tofu skin that forms on the surface of boiled soy milk. This thin soy milk layer has a creamy taste and a unique texture. Yuba is also rich in nutrients, including protein, soy isoflavones, and iron which are beneficial to your health.
Nishiki Market is home to many popular Yuba shops which have a long history. If you want to try delicate Yuba at Nishiki Market, visit YUBAKICHI, which has produced delicious Yuba products since opened in the late 18th century. They offer a variety of Yuba and Tofu products which are made from domestically-grown soybeans and clear underground water in Kyoto region.
Hanayori-Kiyoe is another popular shop that serves delicious “Yuba Korokke” (Korokke is a Japanese side dish which is basically a fried mashed potato with filling ingredients). The coating of Yuba Korokke is crispy, while inside the Korokke is filled with creamy Yuba. They also serve different flavors of Korokke such as Matcha (Japanese green tea), curry, and grilled corn which are reasonably available for around 250yen!
Hamo: Japanese Pike Conger Eel (Sold at “Uoriki”)
If you want to try Japanese fresh seafood, but raw fish doesn’t suit your taste, why not try delicious Hamo Tempura at Uoriki? Founded in 1919, Uoriki is a small seafood shop that specializes in selling a variety of seafood dishes. They are particularly popular among international tourists with the incredibly great Hamo Tempura, which is available for 400 yen. Their Hamo tempura is bite-sized and features the freshest Hamo delivered from the Setouchi area, which is best known for its top-quality seafood. The deep-fried Hamo tempura is coated with light batter which features a crispy texture. The dining area is also available in the store.
Traditional Japanese Snacks & Sweets (Sold at “Terakoya-honpo”)
Nishiki Market offers a variety of traditional Japanese snacks and sweets that you should try while in Kyoto. Terakoya-honpo is a cozy Japanese sweets confectioner which sells delicious handmade “Senbei” (rice crackers) and “Dango” (Japanese sweet rice dumplings). Their rice crackers are carefully baked by hand in-store and flavored with traditional seasonings such as soy sauce and seven flavor chili peppers.
It is also worth trying their delicious sweet rice dumplings which come in different colors and flavors, including Mitarashi (salty-sweet sauce made from sugar and soy sauce), Anko (sweet bean paste), chocolate, chestnut, and more. They make different flavors of rice dumplings for each season, so every time you visit them, you will find new flavors to try!
If you are planning your first visit to Kyoto, but don’t know where to start, check out our popular food and drink tour at Nishiki Market!
3. Where to visit around Nishiki Market
Shinkyogoku Shopping Street (新京極商店街)
One of Kyoto’s most famous shopping streets packed with a wide range of shops and restaurants. It is a perfect place for finding memorable souvenirs, browsing the latest fashion trends in Japan, and trying popular street foods and sweets. This shopping street is located about 5 minutes east of Nishiki Market.
Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社)
This sacred Shinto shrine has a history of 1,300 years, is located in the Gion district, and is home to historic buildings which are brightly lit up at night. In addition, it is probably best known for Gion Matsuri, Kyoto’s most famous summer festival held in July. Maruyama Park is a peaceful park adjacent to the shrine, and is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot during the spring season!
Kamogawa River (鴨川)
Kyoto’s symbolic river that runs through Kyoto City from north to south for approximately 31 kilometers. This scenic stream boasts a peaceful atmosphere which is perfect for a relaxing stroll. You can also take a refreshing break along the lovely river banks after enjoying shopping at Shinkyogoku Shopping Street or exploring Gion District nearby.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto
When you are visiting Kyoto and you need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto the best trip ever. We can advise you on where to go or even better, show you around with a local, English speaking guide. Let us help you create safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memories in Kyoto!
▶Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.
▶Total Kyoto Experience
If you only have a day or two in Kyoto, we offer a full-day tour of the city, enabling you to immerse yourself in and fully enjoy the entire city of Kyoto in just 10 hours!
▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with traveling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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