Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ohara Morning Market - Kyoto

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...
In case you are seeking it out - below is the shop I mentioned earlier -with some of its wares ....

Stop in for a tasting!


  1. i am a chef from Australia and wonder if i take a taxi from Kyoto to Ohara would the shops be open during the week or Saturday? i know the Market is on Sunday, but i cant go on Sunday. Please advise if i could visit a farm nearby??

  2. Hey there, you can certainly take a taxi but it would be quite expensive there and back. There are buses that leave from Kyoto station every day. There are certainly some shops open on the walk up to sanzen in sometimes a veggie stand etc at the Ohara bus terminal. The shops with the dressings etc are probably a 10 minute walk back on the main road that goes up there - or if you get a cab - ask them to stop at the little shop/s on the left hand side of the main road (west side) before taking you to Ohara bus terminal. There are more little shops with local mushrooms and pickles etc on the opposite side of the main road (again west) near Jakkoin temple - but you'll need someone to show you the way - or take a good map and keep an eye out for the signs. You actually walk through a lot of little farm plots to get there. If you wanted to meet with a farmer you will need a driver/interpreter. Try asking your hotel for info - or the tourist information centre - there's one at Kyoto station and they are quite helpful. Good luck!