Shitennoji Flea Market in Osaka
Anytime is a good time to visit Osaka, Japan. The city is beautiful, the people are warm and friendly and the food that it is best known for; takoyaki—which is octopus balls or actually pieces of octopus fried in a light dough—is quite delicious. But if those are not enough reasons to place this wonderful metropolis on your itinerary, then consider the flea market bazaar of the Shitennoji Temple complex to be another.
The temple itself is one of the oldest in Japan and is located in the south central of the city; a very short walk from the Shitennoji-mae Yuhigoaka station on the Tanimachi subway line. There are many entrances onto the grounds and as you enter, you are greeted by the throngs of people making their way through the many stalls and kiosks.
Within the market, you can find a vast variety of wares to satisfy both the bargain hunter and souvenir seeker alike. But if you think that there are just merchants peddling knick knacks then you will be in for quite a surprise. You can find everything from traditional clothing—kimonos—to guitars; tableware to footwear and almost everything in between. As you walk amidst the different sellers and buyers, you might want to satiate the craving induced by the aroma emanating from the many food stalls situated almost anywhere you look. The majority of this fare tends to be okonomiyaki—also known as Japanese pancakes—or fried noodles. Whether you are a vegetarian of a carnivore, you will find one of these made to your liking. If okonomiyaki or noodles do not appease your palette, then most likely the red bean steamed rice will succeed. It’s actually a very popular fixture at the bazaar so you should get there early to avoid the line up.
Being hosted in a place of worship, there are naturally many areas both large and small where you can stop and say a prayer; perhaps for your good fortune at being able to enjoy a little of what Japan and Osaka have to offer. For those of you who are either not religious or of a different faith, you can still take a break from browsing among the shops and rest by one of the turtle and Koi-filled ponds. These are also a big attraction of the grounds. Once again, if reptiles and fish offer no interest, you can still enhance your visit by taking a trip up the pagoda. It is a five storey spiral climb to the top floor and if you are tall like me, you will definitely need to duck when you walk out onto the open area at the top. Though it’s not very wide, the balcony-like space does offer a 360 degree vantage of the immediate surroundings and a magnificent view of the distant mountains.
On any given day, you can venture to the complex and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of this holy place, however, the flea market bazaar only occurs on the 21st day of each month. Through a lucky coincidence, my first visit to this beautiful country happened to include a trip to the bazaar. It was so enjoyable that I made certain that the second time I came I would be able to see it again. Now I make sure to return to the Shitennoji flea market every opportunity I get and I’m sure that after one visit, you will too.