As a born and bred New Englander, I come easily to the flea market bug. The thrill of the hunt, the opportunity to learn a little history, and the satisfaction of a good deal, all join forces to raise my adrenalin and put me in high spirits. There’s also some pleasure of imagining that there just might be a treasure waiting for me to uncover at the next booth. It’s what keeps me going usually far longer than common sense would dictate.
I love a good flea market. Kyoto scores highly in fulfilling that desire; there are at least two monthly shrine markets that always hit the mark. Also, since the markets seem a bit exotic to the Western eye, it’s intriguing. There are food vendors, plants, some temples or shrines to explore, lots of vintage textiles, some ceramics, some collectibles, some shmatas(look it up), some crafts, etc. etc.
Sunday was Tenjin San, always on the 25th of the month. It was oppressively hot, and with my somewhat impatient, but not yet balky, husband joining me, we moved through the aisles pretty quickly. No spectacular finds, but still lots of goodies to check out along the way. There was even a performing monkey, which I found archaic and unpleasant, yet fascinating despite my disapproval.
Some of the hundreds, thousands? of vintage textiles for sale are staggering in their beauty. Most are quite ordinary, if you can ever call a kimono ordinary, but when you hit a standout because of pattern and color, it’s like running into a sublime Monet or dazzling Kandinsky. Ok, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but you get my drift! My mind always spins for a few minutes when I hit a patch of vintage kimono, but then I calm myself down and admire them for the moment, knowing if I brought one home, I wouldn’t know what to do with it and would never have the heart to cut it up. Rather than a source of pleasure, it could easily become an object triggering guilt that I’d put away on a high shelf.
A kid in a candy store. All at just her height.
So, if you’re hanging out in Kyoto on the 21st or 25th of the month without much to do, get thee to a flea market for a day of discovery, and just plain fun.