Ah, flea markets, where you learn what you’re really made of. Do you walk out empty handed, or do you go home with the sack of mismatched chess pieces, a tattered sombrero and an embalmed porcupine fish on a stick?
In and around Hiroshima, the term “flea market” covers a lot of territory, from housewives with boxes of stained baby clothes and old exercise routines on VHS to exquisite handmade jewelry and antiques, often sold side by side.
At their best, these markets offer not only bargains, but a chance to interact with locals in a festive, very family friendly atmosphere. The folks manning the stalls range from one-time participants clearing out their closets to professional dealers, and there’s often food and drink for sale, along with a corner for performances. You truly never know what you’re likely to stumble across, so get out there and take a look.
Markets in and around Hiroshima city.
Senda Wasshoi Matsuri Flea Market
This is one of the bigger markets in town, held regularly on the former grounds of Hiroshima University. Emphasis here is on the “matsuri” portion of the event’s name; the organizers really do try to create a festive atmosphere. The website informs me that the market on February 11 will be the 342nd one held, so these folks know what they’re doing. A wide variety of vendors are on hand selling just about everything you can think of short of functioning military ordnance. If you’re on the hunt for something in particular, be warned that the gates open at 7:00, and other avid buyers arrive early to snap up the best of what’s on offer.
Time: Sunday, February 11, from 7:00. Postponed until the following day in case of rain.
Place: 1-1 Senda-machi, Naka-ku Hiroshima city. The old Hiroshima University Campus.
Website: http://sendawasshoi.web.fc2.com/ (top page displays the date of the next market)
Kure Port Pier Park
The site of a former amusement park, Kure Port Pier Park is located on the Hiroshima Kure Road, a toll road running along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. The park, usually called “Portpia,” is now host to a series of events, including a number of markets that are worth a visit. In February, for instance, there will be a “Dynamic” market on the weekend of February 10-11, dealing in antiques and clothing. On February 24, another market will also showcase antiques and children’s clothing, along with other handmade items and goods for “daily life.” It will run alongside a local fruit and vegetable market on the same day, which offers other specialty food items as well.
Time: “Dynamic Market,” Saturday and Sunday February 10-11, 9:00-16:00.
“Rakuichi-sai” clothing and antique market, Saturday February 24, 9:30-16:00
Fruit and Vegetable market, Saturday February 24, 9:00-14:00
Place: 2-3 3-Chome, Tennoohama, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Accessible by car (approx. 25 minutes from downtown Hiroshima) or the JR Kure Line (get off at Portpia Station)
Daisho-in’s Tsuitachi-ichi and Okagesama-ichi
Daisho-in Temple on Miyajima, dating to the 9th century, may seem an unlikely spot for a flea market, but the head priest has allowed vendors into the temple grounds in order to revive the old island market that was long a feature of life here. The larger market is held on the first of each month, and quite a few vendors set up stalls in the temple’s forecourt to sell goods ranging from old kimonos and books to handmade jewelry and folk crafts. There are also occasional performances, and English interpretation is available if needed. If the weather is cooperative, the combination of the setting and the eclectic, always interesting array of stalls makes this a good stop on any trip to Miyajima. A smaller version of the market, called the Okagesama-ichi, is held Saturday to Wednesday from March to early December. And Daisho-in is always worth a visit.
Time: Tsuitachi-ichi Market. The first of each month, rain or shine. 10:30-15:00
Okagesama-ichi Market, Wednesdays to Saturdays, March through early December, unless preempted by temple events. 10:30-15:00
Place: Daishoin Temple, 210 Miyajima-cho Hatsukaichi-shi. A twenty minute walk from Miyajima’s ferry terminal, up the hill from Itsukushima Shrine. Pick up a free map at the terminal if you think you’ll have trouble finding it.