Find Hidden Treasures! Kyoto's To-ji Ennichi Kobosan Flea Market
[Local College Students Tell All!] On fixed days each month, flea markets are held within the compounds of various Kyoto temples and shrines. From beautiful kimono to antiques, there is a huge variety of stalls with various goods on offer. These lively markets are visited by people of all ages, genders, and walks of life. Get a close look at the Kobosan Flea Market held on the 21st of every month at To-ji Temple in Kyoto!
Oct 05 2017 (Feb 07 2020)
How Did To-ji Temple Ennichi, Kobosan Flea Market Begin?
The venue for the flea market is a temple with a long and proud history of over 1,200 years. One of the most famous temples in Kyoto and also a World Heritage Site, the head temple of the Shingon Sect, Higashi Kyo-o-gokokuji Temple, is also commonly called To-ji Temple. Ennichi refers to the days when deities and Buddha were connected to the mortal world, so it is thought that coming to temples and shrines to worship on those days would help accumulate virtue.
The temple runs a memorial service on Shingon Sect founder Kukai's death anniversary on March 21st. Originally, Ennichi only took place once a year on this particular date, but after 1239, it started occurring every month on the 21st.
As the number of worshipers increased, merchants began to set up tea houses and various stalls to peddle plants, medicines, and more. This is said to be the origin of today's Kobosan Flea Market at To-ji Temple. Even till this day, there is a wide variety of stalls selling many different goods at the market.
With the passage of time, this great selection of goods has attracted the attention of visitors from all over the world, and the market is now a top attraction that sees over 200,000 visitors every month!
The locals gave this market a nickname, Kobosan, taking inspiration from Kukai's posthumous name, Kobo-Daishi.
Over 1,000 Stalls?! Such Abundant Variety!
The market takes up the space within the temple grounds, up to the north gate, and then along the road outside the temple. On average, there are between 1,200 - 1,300 stalls displaying all kinds of goods.
Unlike regular flea markets in Japan, the stalls here are operated by professionals, and not by members of the public. Almost all of the stall holders have a shopfront elsewhere. Every month on the 21st, they bring their goods here to set up shop.
What Kinds of Stalls Can You Find Here?
The stalls typically sell goods like antiques, ceramics, kimono, sundries, toys, and plants.
Since the stalls are mostly run by professionals, there's a common misconception that the goods here are pricier than most flea markets. However, the goods are also higher in quality, so connoisseurs will be able to find some gems here!
You'll also find intricately designed smoking apparatuses, ornaments, and more.
Here are some inkstones, urns, and small teapots. You'll also be able to witness some enthusiastic bargaining between customers and stallholders!
These ceramics look so impressive when they're lined up together! Also, they are extremely beautiful. You'll definitely end up thinking to yourself, "Food will look extra delicious if I use these plates!" Some items with slight defects, like minor chips and small painting errors, may be sold in sets at a discount. It's your chance to grab a bargain!
You can also find these traditional Japanese dolls. Aren't they adorable?
Here are some kimono that are bound to attract you with their vibrant colors and designs.
You can wear them as they are, or recycle the cloth and make something else with the fabric.
There are also many kimono for men. Why don't you try one on? You might feel as though you were a samurai!
They also sell a lot of cloth and scraps that are used for making kimonos. Many of these feature traditional Japanese-style designs, so look around and you should be able to find something good!
Take a Break at One of the Many Rest Spots
If you get tired while shopping or strolling, just take a break at the food and drink stalls. There are even stalls that sell light meals and alcohol!
If you're looking for something a little more convenient, you can also make use of the many drink vending machines. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated, even when it's not too hot. Also, do take breaks while shopping so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
Kobosan happens every month on the 21st between 5:00 AM and 4:00 PM (times may change depending on the weather and season). The market stays open even on rainy days, but note that some stalls may choose not to open. If you're in Kyoto, head down to the Kobosan Flea Market! Who knows, you may discover some hidden gems!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.