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Toji Temple Market Overwhelms Your Senses

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Kyoto has some of the best antique and flea markets in Japan. One of the most fascinating ones is the Toji Temple Market

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Toji Temple (東寺) is a 15 minute walk from Kyoto Station. On the approach to the temple slowly but surely vendors start appearing on the sidewalk and you know you are on the right way.

The activity explodes the moment you step through one of the temple’s gates. Some 1200 vendors sell everything from 500 year old Korean pottery and Imperial Army uniforms, to frozen cucumber snacks and Lotus Flowers.

In between you find a fascinating selection of kimono, yukata, underwear, modern arts and crafts, Showa era magazines and just about anything you can, and cannot, imagine.

Akira Kurosawa

This Buddhist temple once stood alongside the Rashomon gate, made famous by legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, who based it on stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

The temple was founded 12 centuries ago, and is almost as old as the old capital itself. For quite a while it was run by Kobo Daishi, also known as Kukai, founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism and undoubtedly one of Japan’s most celebrated Buddhist scholars.

Holy Days

The temple’s principal image is Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. On the 21st of the month, no less than 300,000 pilgrims come here to pray for good health. Long lines of people covering themselves with smoke of incense before praying in front of an endless series of age old paintings.

Such huge crowds naturally attract people with things to sell, and for many hundreds of years this sacred day has become market day. The most interesting of these markets take place in December and January, the last and first ones of the year.

There is also a smaller market at Toji that takes place on the first Sunday of each month.

Beauty

Toji’s beautiful architecture, its pagoda surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden, and its moat filled with Lotus Flowers, turtles and carps, adds a fairytale atmosphere to the market.

You can escape the crowds for a leisurely stroll in the garden, or a short break watching the flowers and the turtles. You are also bound to run into a procession of Buddhist priests clad in ochre robes, or observe a priest performing prayers at one of the many sub temples, just steps away from the never ending bustle of the market.

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Antiques

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Even Lotus Flowers are for sale

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Boro textiles, traditionally worn by peasants

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A Buddhist service, just a few steps away from the bustling crowds

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Cheaply priced obi

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You can find just about anything

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O-den

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Boy and girl Kewpie dolls

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Lotus Flowers

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Prayer cards

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Handmade rabbit

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Obi

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Flag at stall selling crushed ice

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Cutie Pie

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Mountains of kimono and yukata to choose from

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Obi

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Antique dols

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Buddhist image on the bottom of a bowl

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16th century pottery from North Korea

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Box full of figures

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Yukata

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Textile

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Priests on parade

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Toji’s famed five storied pagoda

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Dragonfly

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Purification by smoke

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An enormous variety of food items are on offer

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When: 21st of the month (smaller market on first Sunday)
Time: 07:00~16:00
Where: Toji Temple, Kyoto

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

lovely pictures! could you recommend a mid-range ryokan in Kyoto? :)

stef
Jul 24, 2013 (490 days ago)

@Stef: Until last Sunday I never had to stay in Kyoto, because I lived nearby, so I’m afraid I can’t really recommend any place. But it is quite easy to find reliable information on the net about lodgings in Kyoto.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Jul 24, 2013 (490 days ago)

Oh my goodness everything is so amazing and beautiful! :0 I would spend hours trying to see everything! And I love that cute little girl in the red hat with her little camera C: She might be a photo journalist one day!

Zjonni
Jul 24, 2013 (490 days ago)

@Zjonni: She was so cute, I could have watched her for hours. I’m sure she’ll be an awesome photo journalist one day! ^_-

Kjeld Duits (author)
Jul 24, 2013 (490 days ago)

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