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Nishiki Market: The Shopping District Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”

By Ashley Owen
May 17, 2021
Updated: June 8, 2021
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Affectionately known as "Kyoto’s Kitchen," Nishiki Market is a lively shopping street lined with authentic stores and stalls selling Japanese street food, souvenirs, and local Kyoto delicacies. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to the city, offering everything from fresh seafood, tofu, and traditional pickles to locally-grown tea and beautiful sweets. In this video, Shizuka Anderson teams up with guide Kevin Boynton for a special Nishiki Market food tour. Together they explore the amazing variety of shops, discover more about the region's specialties, and of course sample plenty of tasty treats along the way! 

Kyoto Street Food Tour at Nishiki Market: The “Kitchen of Kyoto”

The Nishiki Market shopping district is located right in the heart of Kyoto, just one block north of Shijo Dori street. Originally a fish market, Nishiki Market dates all the way back to 1310 and still offers a window into Kyoto of old. Today it’s grown to include over 100 stores and stalls spread across five blocks, which sell all manner of foodie delights. This makes it one of the best places in the city to try authentic Kyoto street food, as well as pick up cooking ingredients, kitchen items, and local souvenirs.

Shizuka Anderson and Kevin stroll through Nishiki Market, passing by a tsukemono shop

Shizuka and Kevin take a stroll through Nishiki Market together and discover a wide range of regional delicacies on offer. They begin at a tsukemono (Japanese pickles) shop, where Kevin explains that Kyoto pickles have a slightly fresher taste compared to those from other areas of Japan – a practice that originated as a way for the city to display its affluence. Kyoto cuisine, in general, tends to be rather mild and nuanced, and Nishiki Market is the ideal place to experience the city’s traditional flavors.

Barrels of pickles at Nishiki Market

During their Nishiki Market food tour, Shizuka and Kevin sample plenty of the Japanese street food sold on the stalls. This includes crispy fried conger eel skewers, fragrant sasamaki fu manju (steamed buns in a bamboo leaf), and unique chewy quail egg fish cakes. If reading this is making you peckish and you want to take your own Kyoto food tour here, the Nishiki Market opening hours are generally 9am to 6pm (though this can vary from store to store).

Quail egg fish cakes at Nishiki Market

When it’s time for dessert, our hosts stop at an adorable Snoopy-themed cafe to tuck into delicious rolled dorayaki pancakes filled with whipped cream, chewy mochi rice cakes, and smooth butter mixed with red bean paste. Finally, to round off their Kyoto street food experience Shizuka and Kevin enjoy a couple of fruity wagashi jelly sweets. Be sure to check out the video to see just how exquisite the candy designs are!

Han-namagashi from Nishiki Market

Take your own foodie tour of Kyoto!

Want to discover more of Kyoto and taste some of the city’s best regional specialties? Join a Kyoto Night Food Tour!

Over three hours you’ll explore the cobbled streets of Gion, Kyoto’s traditional geisha district, as well as Pontocho, where the narrow streets are lined with cool bars and restaurants. On this Kyoto food tour, your friendly guide will take you to two different foodie venues where you can enjoy a drink and sample a delicious selection of local dishes, all while learning more about the city’s history, food culture, and nightlife.

Want to see more of Shizuka's food adventures? Check out our other videos and subscribe to the Japan by Food YouTube channel for the latest updates!

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Ashley Owen
Ashley is a freelance travel writer from the UK who spent the last two years living in Japan, and is about to embark on her next adventure to New Zealand. She's always on the lookout for exciting new vegan treats wherever she goes!
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