Dec. 28, 2017 UPDATE

The last Tenjin-san flea market of the year, Shimai Tenjin in December 2017

We went to Shimai Tenjin at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine to get the best bargains and taste Kitano’s famous Chogoro-mochi rice cakes.
Sampo[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]

The Tenjin-san flea market takes place in Kyoto every 25th of the month, and although it’s a very popular event every month, the last Tenjin-sai of the year is especially popular, and it even has its own name: Shimai Tenjin. 

There are just so many people at the festival/flea market. Even getting to Kitano Tenmangu was difficult this day: we couldn’t even get in on the first bus, it was so full, and the second bus couldn’t let any more people board after our stop. 

At Tenjin-san you can buy almost anything, from antiques to flowers, not to forget the festival-takoyaki. We were already a bit tired when we got to the shrine, as the bus trip was not very comfortable…

But quickly the bargain hunting got the better of us and we were ready to start looking for good finds. I wanted to buy this ship’s wheel, but at 12,000 it was a bit over my budget, and also physically a bit too big for my house. 

You have to be careful when looking for things to buy at Tenjin-san, as many of the most interesting things are hidden among other items. So keep your eyes peeled! 

Many of the stalls had Kokeshi dolls on sale, so this is pretty much the ideal place to start your Kokeshi collection. I didn’t buy one yet, but I’m probably going to buy the next time I go to Tenjin-san. 

The year 2018 is the year of the dog, so there is a huge ema wooden plaque with a painting of a dog on it hanging on the side of the main gate of Kitano Tenmangu. 

As Shimai Tenjin is on Christmas Day, you can, of course, find Santa Clauses at the flea market too. These Santas in the picture are from the Showa period, so they were made around 50 years ago. 

If you want to buy a kimono in Kyoto, and you are on a budget, then Kitano Tenmangu’s Tenjin-san should be your choice. You can get a kimono for 1,000 yen and a haori coat for 500 yen, so you could probably make a complete kimono set here for under 3,000 yen. 

Kitano Tenmangu is famous for the Chogoromochi rice cakes you can get at the shrine. These rice cakes got their name from the unifier of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who liked them so much that he gave the rice cakes the name of their maker, one lucky Mr. Chogoro. 

You buy a ticket outside and then go inside and hand the ticket to the staff. You then get two chogoromochi and Sencha-tea. One set costs 380 yen. I don’t even like rice cakes that much, but these were really good. Easily worth the praise Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave them.

There are just so many interesting things on sale at the flea market that it’s hard to choose what to buy. Below you can see just some of the highlights:

A metallic toy train; Batman notebooks with the one and only real Batman Adam West on them, and nutcrackers, are just some of the alluring things on sale. 

As said earlier, there are even flowers and gardening equipment on sale. 

You can even get bonsai trees! This fine example cost 150,000 yen, but some of the small ones only cost around 2,000 yen. Now I know where to start my bonsai hobby once I retire. 

And if you get hungry, they have things like oden and takoyaki on offer too, so Tenjin-san is nice for street food too. They even have sake for you to enjoy too, both hot and cold. 

And these are the things that I got at Shimai Tenjin. A sashimi knife for 1,000 yen and a wooden spoon especially great for fried rice (according to the seller) for 650 yen. 

A comment from the staff
Shimai Tenjin was just so much fun, they had all kinds of things on sale, and there were so many stalls, it just felt like they would never end. Next time I’m going to make sure that I have more time to look at the stalls, as some of them have some of the more interesting things in the back, so you can’t see them right away. In January there’s already Hatsu Tenjin waiting for us! And then in February, you get to see the plum blossoms as well as join in the flea market.

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