Toji Temple Market and Overseas Stuff

November 25, 2019

by Kyosuke Maruyama, Shunpei Sakoda, Shiho Koutoku


There is a lot of culture and history in Kyoto. For example, macha, maiko and yatsuhashi are popular culture. Kiyomizu temple and Kinkaku temple are known as favorite historical places in Kyoto. In recent years, many foreigners come to Japan from a lot of countries. So Kyoto is becoming a sightseeing destination for tourists to experience another culture. 

Toji temple

Do you know Toji temple? Toji temple was built in the year 796 by the emperor Kanmu. later, The emperor Saga gave it to Kukai, who was the high priest. He founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. This temple has been poplar since then. Now a lot of visitors come to this temple to honor Kukai. 

Toji temple

Toji Temple Market

Toji Temple Market is held on the 21st of every month at Toji temple. It is called Toji temple market or Koubou sama. Koubou sama is another reference to the founder, Kukai. Kyoto people love Kukai and Toji temple. So 20,000 people come to this festival every month. In particular, more people come to this market in year-end and New Year holidays. In Japan, festival doesn’t mean only an event or party. Many shops gathered in one place is also a called a festival. It is called ennichi too in Japanese. 

Ennichi means special day. En means relationship and nichi means day. And 21st day is the day of Koukai’s death. So Kyoto people believed that Koukai is in the temple on the 21st day.

This kind of temple market or ennichi is often held in shrines and temples in Japan.

There are about one thousand two hundred shops at the market in Toji temple. 

Three months ago, I went to Toji temple market with my friends for the first time. I was so surprised. Because about half of people is foreign country people. They look at a lot of stuff. They can buy Kyoto curios, textiles and figures. Of course, they can buy food and drink there. There is a lot of food and drink shop which sell regional food and local beer. I think they will be able to be here for half a day. 

Then, I looked at one shop. This shop seemed unnatural for me. I came into this shop. There are a lot of felt dolls and clothing. I had never seen this kind of stuff in Kyoto. It was Nepal stuff. I had thought the sellers had to sell only Kyoto stuff. But this was different. After I talked a little to the seller,  I sought out shops which were selling overseas stuff. Then I can found several such shops in this festival. For instance, wine shop, doll shop and curiosity shop without Japanese stuff. In particular, wine shop gathered a lot of people. This shop held free wine festival. I heard that sellers selling overseas stuff is increasing here. Because I was interested in this process and the seller, I wanted to interview him to find out more about his experience.

He is a 39- year-old Japanese man. He organizes a lot of companies and jobs. When he was 22 years old, he first went to Nepal. He was impressed deeply by Nepal. He thought he wanted to do something for Nepal. But he had to seek good tools and methods to earn money. Then he heard by chance that buttons which are made in Nepal is so rare and expensive. He went to a factory by using his relationship with a friend in Nepal. Because of this visit to the factory, he was able to start a business. These buttons were so beautiful. He decided to sell these buttons. These buttons have been made for over one hundred years. From there, he went to other companies and shops. He made connections to stock cheaply. 

When he started this business, he was unsure of what place he could sell. So he began selling at a lot of festivals. There is many historical place in Kyoto. So various festival every month. There is a theme of festival per this place. So he tried to sell a lot of festival in Kyoto. And he decided to sell in Toji temple market. But most shops there were about Kyoto. This festival is just in Kyoto. However, there is no required theme. So he can sell his Nepal stuff here. He pays ¥5000 rental fee to Toji Temple every time he comes to the market. Why did he choose Toji temple? He said Toji history is so deep. So this traditional event will not decline or disappear in the future. The kindness of Kyoto people was another important reason. Of course, there is power balance. Veteran vendors who sell every month can get a good location within the market, which is critical to making sales and attracting customers. 

He can earn up to five hundred thousand yen per day at the Toji Temple Market. He thinks it is such a good place. In the future, goods and sellers from other countries may increase. He may face a struggle to continue his business in the future. 

He comes and goes between Japan and Nepal every month to looking for goods to sell, and brining them to his Toji temple market stall. He buys and sells in a lot of places and has a variety of goods, for instance, vegetables, dolls, antique coins and coffee. He usually seeks a possibility of job all over the place. He said it is important to seek small awareness in all places and keep facing challenges every time. 

Toji temple market will be changing. But I think it is not bad thing. A lot of culture comes to Kyoto. Possibilities will be increasing too. The Nepalese buttons he sells are used by Ralph Lauren in the Paris correction. 

Maybe, Kukai smiles above from the sky.


Address Toji temple (Kyoougokokuji temple)


        1 banchi Kujo-machi Minami-ku Kyoto-shi

        Tell  075-691-3325 / Fax 075-662-0250

15 minutes from Kyoto station Hachijoguchi by walking

10 minutes from Toji station by walking

Please get off on Omiya station and change to bus (18, 71, 207 line)

 To Toji temple higashi mon-mae


Kitanotenmangu Market

by Namiho Nakazawa

Street to the precinct of the shrineThe 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.

 one of antique stores

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.