The Food Stalls of Nishiki MarketKyoto, Japan
The neatly stacked shelves and colourful displays of Nishiki Market’s 126 shops and stalls inspire both curiosity and hunger. Although camera-clutching foreigners can be found wandering the 390-metre strip under the shelter of the checkered stained-glass roof, this is no tourist trap – it’s a functioning market packed with fresh, locally produced and procured goods, known by some as the ‘kitchen of Kyoto’.
Glittering fish and gnarled molluscs are carefully laid out on beds of crushed ice, vast wooden barrels are filled with rice to one side and green tea on the other, and trays of crayon-bright sweets add blasts of colour to the scene. Less easy to identify are the yellow-smeared bulbs crammed in wooden crates, or the wood-like sticks stacked side by side. Although its name literally means ‘brocade market’, Nishiki actually started off as a fish market, with the first store opening as early as 1311 and others soon springing up around it. You can still find an incredible array of seafood here, but there are plenty of other items also on sale, as well as several small restaurants close at hand, serving dishes that are just as exciting as the raw ingredients.
- It’s a photographer’s dream
- You can stock up on well-priced gifts for everyone back home
- Gorge on cheap serves of grilled squid, omelettes, sugared fruit and loads of other delicious stuff
- If you can’t work out what it is you probably won’t be able to find out from the stallholder
- Turning up on Wednesday (it’s the only day Nishiki isn’t open)
- There are more modern stalls popping up among the traditional ones