#8. Strolling and Eating at Nishiki-Koji Market Arcade
To the locals it is Kyo-no-daidokoro or ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, and the Nishiki-koji Ichiba market arcade has existed on this central site since 1615, serving the inexhaustible appetites of the Imperial court and the high-end ryotei restaurants.
A visit here is a must for any serious gourmet traveller, as all Kyoto food life is represented in the family-run businesses that line the narrow, covered alleyway between Takakura-dori and the Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine.
Highlights include the Kyoto pickles at Uchida Tsukemono (don’t miss the free samples); the knives and kitchenware at the legendary Aritsugu; the luxury vegetables on offer at Kanematsu; and the inexpensive freshly grilled shellfish at Daiyasu.
This is one spot where eating-on-the-hoof is tolerated in Japan, but if you fancy a sit-down meal the oyakodonburi chicken and egg rice at Maruki Shokudo canteen is excellent, and a steal at ¥650. The Yaoya no Nikai restaurant above Kanematsu serves a set lunch made with Kyo-yasai locally-sourced vegetables such as Shogoin daikon radish, Kujonegi leek and Kamonasu aubergines.
The market is also an excellent spot to stock up on high-quality sustenance if you are to hop on the bullet train for other destinations. Many of the shops can provide you bento boxes and chopsticks for the journey.
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A version of this article originally appeared in the award-winning luxury travel and lifestyle magazine DestinAsian, the prime publication for those who love to travel, and travel in style in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Sincerest thanks for their permission to reprint it here. Photos © John F. Ashburne.