Visiting Nishiki Market for Japanese Street Food – Kyoto, Japan
Nishiki Market is one of the highlights of visiting Kyoto for amazing food, groceries, and shopping found over five long streets. Lucky for us, it was located nearby our Airbnb in Shijo and even better, the entire market is covered so it really worked in our favor for our rainy day activity. We absolutely love food markets and we were so excited to explore all the new foods. With over 130 shops, there is plenty to see!
Nishiki Market first started as a fish market in 1310 and expanded into much more – it is known now as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”. On the food side, typically a stand specializes in one thing so it makes decisions a bit easier. You can make an entire meal here eating your way through the market. Remember, it is bad practice to walk and eat at the same time and space is a bit challenging at times – especially when it is crowded. Just find a spot near or inside the shop to enjoy your treat. In addition to food, there are tons of ingredients, cookware, and more that all encompass food shopping. The market is not open 24/7 so make sure you plan your trip here accordingly. Nishiki Market is open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and many shops are closed on Wednesdays so best to go other days of the week. My recommendation is to visit around lunch time so you are able to visit when all the shops are open and food is constantly being cooked and turned over.
We made our way to Nishiki Market after our morning walking the entire loop of Fushimi Inari so we were ready for some food. The rain was here to stay so we were grateful for the covering over the entire market. Where we entered, there was mostly goods like clothing and shoes but we quickly found where all the food was hiding. Our eyes became so wide absorbing all the new and beautiful foods – crabs legs, fresh fish, tempura everything, mochi, ice cream, spices, shellfish of every kind, and so much more. Somehow we made it through walking a lap and making our list of must try items and we had many. During our time at Nishiki Market we ate:
- Takoyaki (Octopus Balls) – dumpling with a piece of octopus inside
- Takotamago – baby octopus with quail egg inside head
- Red bean mochi with strawberry on top
We had the best time at Nishiki Market and we visited multiple times during our stay in Kyoto. Make sure to come with lots of yen – no one here takes credit cards. In addition, make sure to bring your sense of adventure and be open to trying some foods you may not have otherwise tried. While we visited on our own, if this is an intimidating experience or you want more information, you can always book a tour with a guide.
In addition to the rows of food stalls, there is tons of shopping to experience in and around the area which is also all covered. We are typically not shoppers, especially on vacation, but Japan has so many unique offerings that we enjoyed bouncing in and out of shops. Kevin found a few t-shirts at a retro shop and even got a massage – the range of options are truly amazing. We also found the best ice cream – Blue Seal Okinawan Ice cream – and we made multiple trips here during our visit for the ube and beni-imo flavors.
Visiting this area of Kyoto is a must do while visiting. It is easy to come multiple times and do something different with each trip – we were in this area at least once a day during our trip for either a snack, souvenir shopping, or just to walk around in a covered section of the city. The proximity of our Airbnb to this spot was really a great benefit since it is so centrally located. Make sure to block time on your trip to wander and explore Nishiki Market.