Kyoto's Kitchen, the Nishiki Market / by Chase Hoffman

Last year, my wife and I traveled to Kyoto, Japan. Before the trip, we knew we wanted to start a family next year, so why not take an adventurous vacation abroad? I've wanted to visit this Japan for the longest time. We ended up picking Kyoto based off of several first-hand recommendations.

One of my favorite places in Kyoto is the Nishiki Market in the downtown area. It's about five blocks long and it's lined with a variety of small shops selling traditional goods like fish, rice, produce and sweets. There are specialty shops like Aritsugu, a 400 year old knife shop or Tanba, a shop dedicated to chestnuts. You can get the popular streetfood, takoyaki (i.e. octopus balls). If takoyaki is too pedestrian for you, you can try tako tamago, which is a steamed baby octopus stuffed with a boiled quail egg and then the whole 'assembly' is candied. Dried goods are quite popular since those goods have long shelf lives which is necessary due to Kyoto's inland geography. Overall, it's a whirlwind of sights and smells. If you visit Kyoto, you need to make time to visit the Nishiki Market.

There's something 'honest' about the local market. Surveying the goods, testing them, and then buying what you need for that night's meal. When you buy from places like Costco, the food is contained beyond an excess of packaging, bundled in excess quantities, manufactured excessively far away and sold by employees who are excessively unaware of the products they sell. In a traditional market, you buy what you need. You can immediately see, smell and maybe even taste it. You know where it comes from because you can talk to its producer right there.

This collection contains some of the goods, people, oddities that I wanted you to see. I hope you get to visit the Nishiki Market one day or at least make time to visit you own local market.