Nishiki Market (錦市場)
Nishiki Market is a shopping street which is on Nishikikoji-dori Street between 'Teramachi-dori Street and Takakura-dori Street,' and approximately located in the center of Kyoto City; there are a lot of long-established stores and specialty stores that sell fresh foods like fish and Kyoto vegetables, and processed foods such as dried goods, tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables), and obanzai (precooked food in Kyoto dialect). Most foods unique to Kyoto can be obtained here.
With a history of 400 years, it is popularly known as 'Nishiki' among the people in Kyoto, and as a sightseeing spot, 'Kyoto's Kitchen' is crowded with tourists and students on school excursions as well as local people, together with the Shinkyogoku-dori Street shopping district and Teramachi-Kyogoku shopping district.
Unlike supermarkets and department stores, the distinctive characteristics of Nishiki Market are closely related to the everyday lives of local people, and is known for the seasonal, quality fresh foods and wide range of items. There are some stores that sell items at high prices, but many local people are satisfied with their high quality and variety, placing their trust in the fact that they are deailing with 'honmamon' (genuine items). As the number of stores which call themselves 'Nishiki Market' in other regions increased, the market registered the trademark of 'Nishiki Market' for the first time as a shopping district in Kyoto City in order to establish and maintain their brand quality.
On the other hand, there was a department store which temporarily crated a food section alled 'Nishiki.'
Nishikikoji-dori Street, where Nishiki Market is located, runs parallel to the main street of Kyoto (Shijo-dori Street) one block north of Shijo-dori Street, and the path is paved with stones and is covered with a vivid arcade of red, green, and yellow, and is 390 meters long from east to west. Approximate 130 stores are members of the Shopping District Promotion Association; the width of the path is 3.2 to 5 meters, but many stores have shelves to display their articles which protrude out onto the street, so the actual width of the path is narrower. The east end of the Nishiki Market crosses Shinkyogoku, and beyond this location is where the Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine is located.
Many kappo (Japanese-style restaurant), ryotei (Japanese-style restaurant), and ryokan (Japanese-style hotel) obtain their ingredients from this market, and for the ordinary customers, there are more than twenty stores which deal with fresh fish such as sea eel, which is a specialty of Kyoto. It is not overstating to say that it is possible to obtain almost any kind of food needed in order to make Kyoto cuisine here: Kyoto vegetables called traditional vegetables, Kyoto pickles, tofu, yuba (soy-milk skin), fu (wheat-gluten bread), eel, tsukudani (preserved food boiled down in soy sauce), kamaboko (boiled fish paste), dried fish, dried goods, tea, confectionery, bread, sushi, and so on.
Unusual foods such as soft ice cream made from soy milk, doughnuts made from soy milk, and skewered tuna dipped in soy sauce, are also available, and there are many who walk around tyring to eat free samples of food served by stores. Furthermore, you can enjoy eating and drinking in the market, for example, a rice store which serves rice balls in a tea room, a vegetable store which serves set meals, a fish store which serves oysters hot from the grill at a counter.
At the end of the year, the market is crowded with people buying food for the New Year, just like Ameyoko (short for Ameya-yokocho, or Ameya Streets; famous for its extremely cheap seasonal goods and other wares) in Ueno. Business hours are different among stores, but are mostly open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most stores are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.
Friendship Ties Market
On November 3, 2006, the Shopping District Promotion Association established friendly relations with Mercato Centrale of Firenze City, Toscana Region, Italy (commonly known as San Lorenzo Market) in order to gain publicity, attract tourists, and deepen mutual understanding. Since 1965, Firenze has had a sister city relationship with Kyoto City, and the event called 'Let's look for Firenze, Toscana at the Nishiki Market' (January, 2005 -) began in order to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their friendship, and was one achievement that the Nishiki Market has produced through their food-based cultural exchange with Firenze. Another purpose was for the Market to learn the 'slow food movement' which originated in Italy. An event to promote Firenze's foodstuffs was held from April 24 through 26 in 2007, the following year when the friendship ties was established, and with the support of neighboring Italian restaurants, four related booths were set up to introduce the food culture of Firenze, serving free sample wine and Tuscan traditional food. Claudio MARTINI, President of Tuscany, who made a first trip to Japan to have a meeting with Keiji YAMADA, Governor of Kyoto Prefecture, also paid a friendly visit to the promotion event; the purpose of the meeting was to discuss 'An agreement about economy and environmental exchange' (concluded in November, 2006) between Kyoto Prefecture and Toscany.
Mercato Centrale of Firenze (Italy): friendship ties established on November 3, 2006.