- Shopping, Neighborhood/Area Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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For those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine, a trip to Nishiki Market can be an overwhelming experience. This bustling, five-block-long covered market is lined with more than 100 stalls, each one hawking Japanese foods and specialty items that are hard to come by in the United States. With barely any English signage for reference, it might be difficult to determine what to buy or where to start. But just because Nishiki Market is busy and confusing doesn't mean you should avoid it. In fact, recent visitors said that's exactly why you should go, saying it's an essential food tour. Others pointed out that this is a great way to sample many different local cuisines without having to buy a whole meal.
The key here is to start small. Sample some authentic green tea or nosh on some nigiri (rice balls). After you've acclimated yourself to the flavors, you can work your way up to the unfamiliar: roe-stuffed squid, dried kelp or silky yuba (tofu-milk skin). Of course, connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine can feel free to jump right in, but Nishiki Market can also offer new eating experiences to old pros. Alongside the more traditional Japanese fare, you'll find some trendier shops like Konnamonja, which sells doughnuts and soft-serve ice cream that are both made from tofu (and reportedly delicious). One thing to note: You'll have to sit (or stand) to eat your food. Walking and eating is not permitted, according to recent visitors.
You can find Nishiki Market one block north of and parallel to Shijo Street in central Kyoto, within walking distance of the Shijo, Karasuma and Kawaramachi subway stations. Free to the public, most of the market is open every day from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., though it varies by shop (some are closed on Wednesdays or Sundays, for example).
- Thing to Do