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


A Kyoto Sightseeing Plan for Spring

By Erica Wada & Yumika Fujii

The four seasons in Japan are defined clearly, so visitors can enjoy each of them in Kyoto. We would like to introduce good ways to spend time in Kyoto during its spring season.

Special sightseeing plan for spring 



Spring comes to Kyoto in April. The average temperature for April in Kyoto is around fifteen degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature is over 30 degrees and the minimum is around zero, so we suggest that you bring a few layers of clothing such as cardigan or a light jacket as it may get chilly at night. Kyoto is famous for sokobie, which means freezing cold in Japanese, so you may feel more cold in Kyoto than compared to other prefectures in Japan. This is because of the high humidity in Kyoto. Moisture tends to collect in this basin.

Cherry blossoms are very popular in Kyoto, so you can enjoy cherry-blossom viewing in many places. Among the best ones are along the  Kamogawa River (鴨川), in Umekoji Park (梅小路公園) and at Toji Temple (東寺).

The Kamo River

The long rows of cherry trees along the banks of the Kamogawa river are a symbol that tells us that spring as arrived in full force. There are Prunus yedoensis, weeping cherry trees, (しだれ桜) and fresh green trees, and the combination of those trees is fantastic. You can take a walk along the river for several kilometers. Also, a good point is that you do not need to pay any admission—because  nature is free.

Kaikado Café – coffee and dessert

You can enjoy a stylish open-air cafe that was renovated from the Showa period. If you get tired walking, you can have a rest here and drink a cup of coffee (810 yen) or eat some Kaikado cheese cake (540 yen). It is South of Gojo Street on the west side to the river.n

Umekoji Park

 “Satozakura street” is surrounded by a grassy area in Umekoji Park. The street has a fine view that includes Mt. Atago in western Kyoto. So it is best to visit on a clear day. The entrance fee is 200 yen per person.

 Toji Temple

In this temple, there is weeping cherry blossom tree in front of the Five-story pagoda, which has been designated as a National Teasure, and is the tallest pagoda in Japan. We strongly recommend that you visit Toji after dark because the cherry blossoms will be lit up from the middle of March to the middle of April. You can visit the precincts of temple for free, but you have to pay if you want to view the cherry blossoms at night (500 yen). Other temples that feature light-ups in spring are Kodai-ji and Tenju-an. Toji Temple is just a ten-minute walk southwest of Kyoto Station.


This is a meat shop that always has a line of customers at lunchtime. Here, you can eat a hot croquette, Japanese-style deep-fried kabob and so on. The croquette costs only 60 yen, and surprisingly, they do a discount on Saturdays and on the 21st of every month. You can walk and eat, so it is perfect for a light meal on the stroll. Tether is on Hachijo Street and on the way to Toji Temple from Kyoto Station.

In conclusion, there are many wonderful spots that you can visit and feel spring in Kyoto.

Toji Market

by Miyako Hashimoto

Once a month, on the 21st, there is a big market in the grounds of Toji temple. There are more than 1000 stalls, with a vast number of people visiting this market each month. As it is held in the temple, many people might think that only the older generation would attend, but many young people tend to show up, too. Also, there are many visitors from other countries. A lot of visitors from foreign countries are really interested in kimono or chinaware, and in this market, you can buy these things at a relatively cheap price. There are numerous kimono stalls around the market, so it is possible to compare prices and get a bargain. In addition to the above, there are many other kinds of things for sale such as vegetables, fish, flowers, trees, shoes, dolls and so on. Due to the interest in flowers or trees, there is always a great variety on offer. As shopping can be hungry work, there is usually a mixed bag of fast food on offer to tempt the crowds of browsers. Favorites for Japanese and foreign visitors alike are takoyaki, fried chicken, okonomiyaki, and in winter, the seasonal specialty, oden. The aromas are wonderful, so I am sure you will want to try eating one of these culinary delights.








By far the biggest market held throughout the year is in December, when more than 200,000 people may attend, and it is called Shimai Kobou, which means the last market. Also, the one which is held in January is equally as large as the one in December, and is called Hatsu Kobou.

This market is held outdoors, but the weather doesn’t really cause too many problems as most of the stalls are covered. However, many stalls which sell kimono or chinaware may decide to shut up shop if it starts to rain.

This market generally runs from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., but it is up to individual stallholders when to open or close. Most vendors start closing down their stalls when they have sold out, which means if you are really interested, you should go early. This way you can find many things, and you might not have to fight your way through the crowds.

This market can get really crowded, so I seriously recommend you wear casual clothes with sneakers or comfortable shoes to make moving around easier.

Usually, the streets around the temple are not that congested, but on the 21st, they are packed with eager market goers. A lot of people take the bus to get here, and this means they are generally jam packed. As this temple is pretty close to Kyoto Station, I really advise you to travel on foot from Kyoto Station. It only takes about 10 minutes or so, and is much more convenient.

I’m sure that you will enjoy discovering some very interesting Japanese things in this market and not get easily bored. The chance to find so many genuine and authentic souvenirs of Japan in one place is an opportunity not to be missed.

Toji temple is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, so you should really take the time to visit it, and experience its size and splendor for yourself.