In the sleepy and still-functioning Chionji temple, in northcentral Kyoto, it’s possible to see monks praying with incense at an interior alter and long strings of giant juzu beads hanging in the rafters. Also called Hyakumanben Chionji and not to be confused with the Chion-in Temple north of the city and on the sea, the wing-roofed temple has a small garden, wooden statues and bells that clang during important ceremonies.
Chionji is accessed by a long cement walkway surrounded by dusty grounds that come alive, jam-packed with vendors, for an all-day flea market on the 15th of each month. It’s one of the largest gatherings of local artisans in Kyoto and has colorful stalls selling locally-crafted hand-painted items, children’s toys, leatherwork, furniture, ceramics and clothing; there are also several fortune-telling booths, food stalls and coffee tents.
The Chionji Temple in Kyoto can be reached by bus routes 17, 102, 201, 203 and 206. It’s a ten-minute walk east from Demachiyanagi train station and is free to enter. The mid-month market runs roughly from 8am-4pm. Because the market can get crowded, arrive early to snag the best finds.