|Category||Green Market / Open Market|
When we think about Chion-ji Temple, of course Hyakumanben* Craft Fair, held on the 15th of every month, springs to mind. Hyakumanben is so famous, we think it’s safe to say it’s Kyoto’s quintessential craft fair. But it’s not the only monthly market Chion-ji has to offer. Chion-ji is also home to a lesser-known open-air market.
That market is Namushe, held on the 22nd of every month. As you can tell from the market’s catchphrase “The blue-sky marketplace of vegetables, food, and health”, the market centers around food. In particular, fresh, local veggies are its niche. The name Namushe comes from “namu” (amen or hail) and “marché”, the French word for marketplace. So the name is meant to express an appreciation for all things fresh and delicious.
*Hyakumanben: literally “a million prayers”, another name for Chion-ji. (Also, the name of a religious practice started at Chion-ji where monks and believers of the Jodo Sect of Pure Land Buddhism chant a million prayers and pass 1080 beads around in a circle.)
Here local farmers from Kyoto and neighboring prefectures offer only their best fresh vegetables for sale.
Fresh tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, and eggplants. The carrots are colorful and delicious. They’re slightly different from any you’ll find in the grocery stores across town.
(L) Cucumber on a stick, as you often see sold at festival food stalls. With a faint flavor of konbu (kelp) stock, these vegetable treats taste delightful.
(C) Ume (Japanese apricot) syrup. Add water and ice to make juice, and you’ve got a drink that’s out of this world!
(R)On this day, nukadzuke (vegetables pickled and fermented in rice bran) was on sale. While its appearance may take you aback for a second, its taste will definitely have you saying, “Mmmm!”
These are homemade karintou (a crunchy, deep-fried snack sweetened with brown sugar). These karintou are made from vegetables and come in abundant variety – onion, spinach, gobou (burdock root), carrot, and more. We only tried a little bit, but it was enough for us to get a taste for the snack’s nice, moderate sweetness.
This bowl is full of homemade chirimenjako (dried young sardines). In Japan, they’re often eaten with rice, but they’re delicious on their own, too.
At this month’s Namushe market, there was another event going at the same time with food stalls. Everything looked so good, we just had to try some curry!
Although Namushe may be overshadowed by the popularity of the Hyakumanben Craft Fair and still not very well-known, we think it’s pretty interesting in its own right. It’s certainly worth the visit. So next time it’s the 22nd, stop on by!