Takayama is a mountain town, and the river that runs through it, the Miyagawa, is a clear mountain one. Every morning on its banks stall-holders set out their wares at the town’s famous morning market, in a long-held tradition.
There has been a market on this spot for sixty years; although records show that it was originally held close to the Takayama Betsuin Shourenji temple, starting in the Edo Period (early 17th – mid 19th centuries). At its peak it is said to have had over 300 stalls but today it is usually between 50 and 70.
I have seen this reviewed as a ‘tourist trap’ but I have to disagree. Yes, tourists come, but it was also clear to me that locals were here too, shopping for (mostly) fruit and vegetables and enjoying a gossip with friends whom they met along the way. I loved our time here and it was a photographer’s dream!
I always enjoy visiting a good colourful market anywhere I travel, as it is usually a great place to take photos and mix with the local people. One man in particular caught my eye, because of his obvious enjoyment and enthusiasm. He was selling packets of traditional sweets, beautiful wrapped as is the Japanese way. This man knew how to sell, engaging passers-by with a smile and lively conversation. Just one person from around the world, just one of many in this market in fact, but very memorable.
But the whole visit to the market was made especially enjoyable by the Japanese willingness to be photographed. I took so many photos of the characterful faces, interesting food products and local crafts.
Of course, being a market, it’s also good place to shop! I bought some delicious sesame crunch sweets at one stall which modestly advertised its wares as being nothing much to look at but worth tasting with a sign that read:
‘Also the wife, the husband and confectionery which are NOT chosen by appearance.’
And this is a great place for snacking. Lots of the stalls sell little treats such as soy bean dumplings and sweets of all kinds. There’s a tea stall if you need warming up on what might be a chilly morning (remember, this is a mountain town) and the local Hida apples are huge and justifiably famous for their flavour.
So please, enjoy a wander around this colourful market with me …
I visited Takayama in 2013