February 17, 2014
by Namiho Nakazawa
The Kitanotenmangu Market is one of the festivals held in the Kitanotenmangu Shrine in Northern Kyoto. The market is also known as Tenjin-san. The Kitanotenmangu Shrine is well known as the dwelling of the God of Education, so it attracts many worshipers, especially students on school trips.
Tenjin-san takes place on the 25th of each month. On that day, approximately 1,000 booths are set up in and around the shrine grounds, selling a wide variety of goods, including curios, Japanese antiques, kimono, and secondhand clothes. Also, there are a lot of outdoor food stalls – also called yatai – offering delicious foods to market goers, such as oden (Japanese winter stew), Korean food, tsukemono (pickled vegetables) or takoyaki(octopus balls). There are so many thing to see and eat!
Tenjin-san – What You Need to Know
Many people come to enjoy the atmosphere and shopping around the shrine for the Tenjin-san market each month. But what makes Tenjin-san unique? We can see this difference best by contrasting it with a different market across town, called the Tezukuriichi Market, which is located in the Hyakumanben area on the Northeast side of Kyoto. The main difference between the two markets is the atmosphere and the things that they sell.
First, the atmosphere is totally different because unlike Tezukuriichi, Tenjin-san has many yatai. So you can enjoy the tastes and smells of delicious market food while you shop around.
Another difference is in the kind of people that each market attracts. Tenjinn-san tends to attract an older crowd. This is because many of the items for sale are Japanese antiques, which older people appreciate more than younger people. On the other hand, the stalls at Tezukuriichi tend to offer newer items that were made by hand. This attracts a younger, more vibrant crowd. And as you can see from the picture below Tenjin-san attracts many foreign visitors, largely due to the presence of so many unique Japanese items. Even some of the stalls themselves are owned by international people. Travelers from various countries enjoy coming to Tenjin-san to check out all of the traditional Japanese things, like Kimono. And many of these items sell cheaply. This might be a big reason so many foreigners come to enjoy shopping at Tenjin-san.
My Impressions of Tenjin-san
Tenjin-san definitely has a very traditional feel because of the large number of antiques on display. Just being around these antiques created a special atmosphere that made me feel the rich history of Kyoto. Also, many of these antiques appeared to be extremely valuable. Due to my lack of understanding about Japanese antiques, I could not really tell the difference between high and low priced antiques.
However, I wasn’t bored at all because of the presence of so many other things on display, such as used kimono and other clothes, yatai, and so on. Also I found a unique shop that sold only items people forgot on the train. In that stall, there were lots of surprising items, for example, trousers and tops that looked almost brand new.
All in all, the Tenjin-san market at Kitanotenmangu Shrine is a great way to spend a few hours and pick up a unique Japanese souvenir or gift to take home with you. I highly recommend a visit.
〒602-8386 Kitanotenmangu Bakuro-cho Kamigyo-ku Kyoto
How to get to Kitanotenmangu Shrine
- From JR Kyoto station use city bus 50・101
- From both JR and subway Nijo station use city bus 55
- From Hankyu-railway Omiya station city bus 55
- From Hankyu-railway Saiin station city bus 203
the 25th of each month: 6:00 am ~ 9:00 pm
Parking not available.