my hobby is shopping

Well no, not really.  But this is something a lot of students used to say to me when I taught English here.  Just to be clear “students” were customers at a commercial English  teaching business and ranged in age from 12- 90 or so.  We did teach kids as well, but they were in different classes.

Anyway shopping is something you can spend a lot of time doing in Japan.

Yesterday we did.  First up was the flea market at Shitennoiji Temple. This is held monthly on the 21st and 22 of the month. (Closest station is Shitennoji mae yuhigaoka on the Midosuji line) at the temple.  Flea markets at temples are common in Japan.  They can be very interesting experience, but most of the markets we have been to previously have been on the tourist circuit (domestic and international) or very small.  This one was huge and mostly localish people, judging by what was sold and not.

We got off the train and G asked me which direction.  I said follow the stream of old people with shopping trolleys!  Even the roads leading to the market had tables, mostly for the shops that were on the road.

The temple gate, leading in…

There were several stalls of old kimonos, which used to be common at the Kyoto ones (but the vendors there have clued into tourist interest and charge accordingly), frequented by ladies in kimonos.

There were rolls of fabric

There several stalls with everyday living things- pots and pans, cleaning products, blankets etc.  there were stalls selling old stuff.  Cameras, old knick knacks, we even saw a rack of 8 tracks.

I bought some buttons at a button stall.  The stall holder told us one was from the 60s, pre Tokyo Olympics, because the papers wrapping the buttons were all 1964 Olympics newspaper articles!


There were a lot of people. Queues for the best food places.  There were also temple buildings

We didn’t actually go in these.  They were more of a working temple than the usual tourist spot, with people praying and lighting incense. A little awkward to intrude, kind of like going into a church as a tourist during a service.  So no pictures of the insides.

Lots of stalls with old stuff. Yes, there were proper antiques dealers but som of it was just stuff.  There a lot of shops where the owners never threw any stock out, and then someone else bought it when they died.  There were stacks of old cameras, camera lenses, CD players, radios, old branded things.  

Some of it was easier to not want to buy, some was tempting and some stuff was a surprise. The next photo is phonograph needles.  Phonograph needles!  Still in their tins!

We wandered for a while.  Bought a couple of kimonos, some buttons and some thread. Also bought roasted chestnuts, sultanas and some very expensive dried and candied sweet potato.  This is the closest I have come to scams in Japan, twice at markets where we tried to buy dried fruit and ended up with waaaaay more than we wanted (800 grams).

And then some expensive but yummy honey. 

It did remind me that japan does have a large percentage of the population that are considered “poor” (30%) and these are not people that you hear a lot about in stories about japan.  These sorts of markets probably are a key element, both in terms of cheaper stuff and of making money.  Australia is a fairly flat society in terms of class (although the current politicians are trying hard to make it more like the USA…) and it’s something I don’t consider that often, the finer striations of money and position. When I talk about class, it is more about mobility of class, that even if your parents never finished high school, or were blue collar, how much opportunity is there.  The USA and japan don’t seem to have as much as they tell themselves they do.

Anyway, flea market shopping over we headed back to the station.  After some dithering at Namba station ( and a nice lunch of ox-tongue!) we ended up heading to Osaka castle.  We had planned to go there on Saturday, but it was rainy.

So Sunday it was.  The gate we went in was under reconstruction so no pretty pictures.  There is a big light show for Christmas at night, but the entry fee was a bit high and not feeling enthused.  We wandered around the area in front of the castle, but I wasn’t feeling motivated to climb to the top – we have been before.

A visit to the souvenir shop, but nothing bought.  Then back to the mass of people that is Osaka station- and the massive underground shopping mall.  We got a coffee and cake set at a cafe near the hotel.

Then back to the hotel for a rest.  At night we went to another light show, but that is a post for another day.

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