Nishiki Market – a long, narrow covered street packed with shops selling local specialties – is sometimes called Kyoto’s kitchen, and it’s easy to see why; barrels of fresh and pickled vegetables spill out into the street, and the air is fragrant with the savoury smell of grilling sembei crackers and steaming fish dumplings. Many of the shops offer free samples, and the Nishiki Market is a wonderful way to stock up on very Japanese picnic supplies for lunch, although there are plenty of restaurants as well if your appetite has been whet by the tastings.
For more lasting souvenirs, we highly recommend the Aritsugu Knife Shop, which dates back to 1560 and stocks all kind of beautifully handmade kitchen equipment, from knives through strainers to the special cutters for making vegetables into flower shapes.
Dintora sells Japanese spices, and is a wonderful place to pick up flavourings for your favourite foodie or to recreate Kyoto dishes at home. Fu, or wheat gluten, which is a staple of Buddhist vegetarian cooking, can be purchased at Fuka and also travels well.