The Koubou Ichi Market at Toji
In Kyoto you can find the Toji Temple, a solemn 5 story Pagoda over looking the great Koubou Market. Let's take a look at what you can find there!
The Toji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage, is symbolized by the five-storied Pagoda.
It is usually a quiet, solemn place, but on the 21st of every month, it shows us a different aspect.
The Koubou Ichi Market is held on that day.
On the 21st, go through the grave Keigamon gate, under a clear blue sky...
... and you will find hordes of people.
Is this really the inside of a temple?
When you talk about markets in Japan, many people tend to think of the outside market at Tsukiji market, or the Nishiki market at Kyoto, a place where people come for fresh food.
But at the Koubou Ichi Market, there are more shops that deal in textiles and antiques such as ceramic plates and vases, than food. The local people refer to Koubou Ichi Market as a "textile market," "antique market," or call it "Koubou-san," with affection.
The Textiles and Antiques Highlighting the Market
The visitors entering from the Keigamon gate will be greeted by vivid-colored textiles.
Most of the products are for the Japanese kimono and obi（kimono sash belt）.
Lively colors, such as vermillion and gold, takes your breath away.
The price also varies widely. Some products are so expensive that you hold your hand back, while some can be purchased at the cost of a T-shirt.
There are shops that handle yukata（informal cotton kimono for summer wear）, which makes a good souvenir, as well as textiles.
The ceramic shops boast a wide variety of saucers, cups, bowls, and vases. Ceramic ware from various places, such as Okinawa and Gifu, are gathered here. They all have different textures, according to their place of origin.
Most of these shops are run by the artists themselves, so the customers can directly ask how the their work is created.
This work was created by a married couple, with the wife as the potter and the husband as the painter.
According to the artists, the design is inspired by the spring flowers near their workshop back home.
There is also a shop which handles ornamental hairpins made from tortoiseshells...
... and a shop selling dried fish products.
The shops vary widely, and you feel like you can walk around for hours and hours, as every shop offers a taste of Japanese tradition and culture.
A Market Held in a Temple
Currently, about 2,100 shops come out for the Koubou Ichi Market. Even though they create an atmosphere of a marketplace, the monks can be heard chanting the sutra in the temple halls.
And the smell of incense also comes from the halls, as well.
Since you have come to Toji temple, be sure to visit the temple after browsing the Koubou Ichi Market.
The One and Only Koubou Ichi Market
Photograph:Courtesy of the Koubou Ichi Working Committee
Walking around the Koubou Ichi Market, you will notice that many shopkeepers are from abroad.
Even if their language is different, the shopkeepers and customers communicate by using gestures, both satisfied in the transaction of goods. That kind of a scene can be seen all over the place.
The Koubou Ichi Market is a special market, held on the 21st of every month, so please come and visit.
Koubou Ichi Market
Address: 1 Kujocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto City (Inside the grounds of the Toji temple)
Telephone: 0774-31-5550 (The Koubou Ichi Market Working Committee)
Station: Toji station (Kintetsu line)
Access 1: 10 minutes walk from the Toji station (Kintetsu line).
Access 2: 15 minutes walk from the Kyoto station (JR line).
Open Hours: From 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the 21st of every month.
Official HP: Koubou Ichi Market at Toji