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Nishiki Market | The Best Food Market in Kyoto

The Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan is a foodie haven. The market sells local food, much of it served on sticks. Do we need to say anything more???

Colorful Market Ceiling at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Colorful Market Ceiling

Important Update
Many businesses have revised their hours due to COVID-19. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information.

For any visit to Kyoto, a stop at the Nishiki Market is a must.

Dating back to the 14th century, Kyoto’s Nishiki Market has been operating as a market for over 400 years. The market is five narrow blocks long and has 126 stalls. The market is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to approximately 6 p.m. Those are the facts.

The reality is that the market lives up to its nickname of “the kitchen of Kyoto” with its stunning variety of fresh delicacies. Sophisticated yet accessible, the market is a necessary part of any Kyoto itinerary for food travelers such as ourselves as well as for average tourists.

Pro Tip

If you’re wondering where to stay in Kyoto, you should probably stay at a hotel near the Nishiki Market. You’ll want to shop at the market more than once when you visit Kyoto.

Our Visit to the Nishiki Market in Kyoto

We arrived at the market at 5 p.m. to find it bustling with locals and tourists. We immediately realized that most vendors were offering samples. Each sample was better than the last sample, from fresh fish to pickles to walnuts to fried treats. The samples worked, as we couldn’t resist buying various items as we walked through the market.

Market Stallat the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Typical Market Stall

We loved the marinated raw fish on sticks sold at Kimura, the oldest stall in the market. Part ceviche. Part sashimi. Totally delicious.

Fresh Marinated Fish on Sticks at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Fresh Marinated Fish on Sticks

Food on sticks was one of the themes of the market. Another theme was fried food. One market treat combined these two themes. How can you not love a fried tiger prawn topped with a spicy sauce?!

Savory Tiger Prawns at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Savory Tiger Prawns

We also tried a fish cake on a stick. Not surprisingly, it was tasty too.

Fish Cakes on Sticks at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Fish Cakes on Sticks

Not all of the fish and seafood was fried and on sticks. We would have bought some for later if only we had a kitchen and more time.

Fresh Seafood at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Fresh Seafood

Next time we’re in Kyoto, maybe we should get an Airbnb apartment so that we shop at the market and cook at home.

Dried Fish at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Dried Fish

Thankfully, we didn’t need a kitchen to enjoy the takoyaki. All we needed to do was pay our 180 yen (less than $2 US) at the vending machine and dig in. We kept it simple with one jumbo takoyaki plate to share as opposed to topping our octopus balls with cheese or spring onions.

Takoyaki Chef Making Octopus Ball Treats at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Takoyaki Chef Making our Octopus Ball Treats

Although takoyaki is an Osaka food specialty, the Kyoto rendition did not disappoint. The only challenge was to keep the gooey filling from burning our mouths. We were up to the challenge.

Jumbo Takoyaki Plate at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Jumbo Takoyaki Plate

We are very familiar with takoyaki, having first discovered them years ago in the basement of the Sogo department store in Hong Kong. It’s a good thing, since we may not have been enticed by the stall’s description of takoyaki as “the food in which the flour mixture water containing an octopus was toasted”.

Pickled Vegetables at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Pickled Vegetables

Another theme of the market was pickling. All types of vegetables were pickled and available for sampling and buying.

Pickled Vegetables Up Close at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Pickled Vegetables Up Close

Some other food items caught our eye during our culinary stroll. We were overwhelmed with choices, not that we’re complaining.

Colorful Rolls at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Colorful Maki

The market was more than just food. There were stalls that sold pottery, trinkets and other non-food items. We wandered around Aritsuga, a stall with all kinds of kitchenware. Being left-handed, Daryl was tempted by the selection of left-handed knives though he ultimately bought a Japanese knife on Kappabashi Street in Tokyo instead.

We ended our Nishiki market experience with a non-Japanese treat. We can’t resist a pastel de nata since our honeymoon in Portugal. Some have been good (i.e. Montreal) and some have been bad (i.e. Macau). Trust the Japanese to recreate the European pastry with perfect creamy, caramelized precision!

Pastel de Nata at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto Japan
Pastel de Nata

We enjoyed the market so much that we didn’t have room for dinner that night. Oh well, such are the sacrifices that we make in the quest for authentic food travel.

The Nishiki Market in Kyoto is located at Japon, 〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609.

Plan Your Kyoto Stay

Click here to research rates for hotels in Kyoto.

Or, if you want access to a kitchen, click here to find an Airbnb apartment.

Hungry for More in Kyoto?

Check out our article about kicking around Kyoto.

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About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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samiya

Sunday 16th of November 2014

Would love to visit here, we love food markets! Your pictures and descriptions are great, makes me want to go very soon :-)

Heather Cole

Sunday 5th of October 2014

I love local food markets, even with the added excitement of a possible tummy bug afterwards! Not sure about the raw fish kebabs, but I'd take one of those tiger prawns any day!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 5th of October 2014

If you like sushi, then you would like the raw fish kebabs. If not, then not. We loved them.

Marie-Carmen

Sunday 10th of August 2014

I'm really hoping to make it to Kyoto and this market! I, like you guys, love markets so it's a must do for me! And those fresh fish on a stick just look so good! Yummy!

Christina

Wednesday 19th of March 2014

I'm going to Kyoto this weekend and will definitely check out this market!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 19th of March 2014

You will love the market. Go hungry for the samples.

Christine R.

Sunday 19th of May 2013

The food looks devine!