I came across some photos today and was reminded about a couple of articles I was writing for SBS Feast Magazine at exactly this time last year. One was about the wonders of Nishiki Market with a focus on pickles and another was my 'Kyoto Hit List' - which recommended taking a trip to breathtaking Ohara in the mountains on the outskirts of Kyoto city to the north east.
Ohara has always been one of my favourite day trips from Kyoto. Actually I say day trip but it is only about a 50 minutes bus ride north from Kyoto station but time is lost very easily in Ohara and it is usually late afternoon by the time I get back downtown.
The place is so sleepy and serene it feels like you are far away from everything and if you are a tourist it is a lovely break from the sometimes intense tourist trail. I used to only ever head up there to visit the beautiful Sanzen-in (which I will post about soon) then I discovered Jakko-in a couple of Autumns ago and it blew my mind in its autumn colours - the walk from the bus stop, via farmland and rustic homes, to the temple is magical. Take a look HERE.
One of the other cool things about Ohara, and the reason so many locals take the trek up there on a Sunday morning - is the local farmers' market.
Start your morning with a really good coffee, drip-filtered to order by this very friendly chap
then make your way around the 15 or so stalls selling fruit or veg plucked from their gardens that morning or dried lovingly in the sun,
home made traditional sweets,
western style pastries,
sushi, flowers and a small range of other food items - oh and a couple of crafty bits n pieces.
It seems to be a bit of a local hang - an excuse to catch up with the hard-working neighbours perhaps?
Foreign visitors are looked upon with amusement and stifled giggles but it is all pretty relaxed - which is a charming change from what can at times be a rather stitched up Kyoto.
The market is open from 6:30 in the morning till about 11 or until everything is sold out -which can happen quite quickly some days. So don't be late!
Just take the number 17 Bus from Kyoto station (or one of its downtown stops - but a warning that the bus is often packed - which is why I like to get on at the start of the journey! and get off the bus at "SATO NO EKI" - which is just before the Ohara bus terminal (near Sanzen-in and the walking route to Jakko-in). Ask the bus driver for the correct stop and sit near the front so he can let you know. If you go too far and end up at the terminal - it is only a short walk back in the direction you came from - on the main road on the Eastern side.
A few minutes walk back towards the city, on the same road, but on the opposite side - is a cute store selling more local veg and sweets and some really good soy, local pickles, salad dressings, miso, tofu etc - if you are staying in accommodation with a kitchen and are in town for a little while it is worth taking stopping in here. I believe there is an organic restaurant nearby but I haven't eaten there yet - that will be on my next mission!
Here's just a taste of what that walk from one to the other might look like.... a little bit of Ohara life...
Stop in for a tasting!