Toji Temple markets, and goodbye

While we were on the train to Kyoto lat week, we’d read excitedly of the large flea market at Toji Temple, but that was quickly dashed when we realised it’s only held one day every month. And then we realised that on the 21st, when it happens, we’d be in Osaka and just a 25 minute train ride away. So that became our plan for the last day in Japan.

It’s the largest flea market in Japan and when we got there we realised just how large. I had to get some cash and my cards were rejected, which caused a nasty moment of panic before I twigged that the ATM must have been sucked dry by the market crowds – another ATM a few blocks away was fine. The market itself was packed, imagine Salamanca market crowds, and then lay six Salamanca stall runs side by side across the vast grounds of Toji Temple. Over a thousand stalls. The air was mild but the sun was punishing, especially when you’ve only slept a few hours. The market was both mundane and great – the girls both found their hearts’ desires from before the trip began, which was a kimono (second hand yukata, ten bucks a throw) and a Japanese doll. I’d told Edie we would buy her something to match Cal’s Hello Kitty replacement – a stall had a box of secondhand dolls in traditional dress and E picked the sweetest looking one (also the largest) and Cal found a slightly more traditional one with a ceramic head and wooden body. They were asking very little anyway, but the young woman on the stall came over to see the girls ooohing at the dolls and I think took a liking to them – she had pretty much perfect English and as we chatted she fired a few questions at an older guy, her dad I think, and kept suggesting lower prices for the ones that the girls liked; eventually she gave them to us for half their already reasonable price. Mem gave her one of our wooden apples (since we are returning with most of them!) and she and her dad immediately gave us a return gift of some chopsticks and a sake jug, just cheap stall stuff but very genuine of them. It was a nice experience.

But otherwise the stalls had some intriguing bric-a-brac – either interesting and expensive, or mundane and inexpensive. I did ask about a large crab made of brass, $300, and my casual enquiry about a ceramic rabbit which I think was either a vase or an incense holder brought an amused smile from the stall holder as he wrote down ¥200 000 (i.e. $2000) – it must have been an antique, certainly looked old.

And then the train back to Osaka, corralling our unwieldy bags, and a train out to Kansai airport – the first part was a little intense because the JR direct service is also a commuter train for the first part of its journey, and the time was about 5:40, so you can guess the rest. The airport was an airport, the flight was … a flight, and I am writing this from the transit hotel in Singapore while Mem gets a headstart on a short sleep. We may get to the zoo but we’re not sure of the logistics yet.

So that’s that, we fell in love with Japan and the kids were deeply sad to go. So that must mean it was a good trip – I am too tired to know yet!

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