When I lived in Kamakura, I used to like to walk around the backstreets of the city, taking photos of ‘things Japanese’. You’d be amazed at what you find just strolling along if you keep your eyes open. The same can be said for antique markets here in Japan, and the one held the third Sunday of every month (from early in the morning until sundown) at Ryuko-ji Temple near Enoshima is a good example of this.
Ryuko-ji itself is a fairly modest temple. It’s not really old, or really big, or really majestic like some temples are. But apparently, the space here used to be used for the carrying out of executions. In 1271, famous priest Nichiren was one second from death by execution when a lightening bolt and loud peel of thunder boomed through the sky overhead. The execution was halted and he was eventually sent to exhile instead. To commemorate this miracle, this temple was established 50 years later.
The antique market is quite good. There is no charge, and sellers’ tables are spread out around the temple grounds. Depending on the season (and weather) you might find as many as 80 dealers plying their wares here—some quite good and others pure junk! But that’s the fun of it. I was once astonished to find an old temple door for sale. It was huge and immensely beautiful. I wracked my brain (and wallet) trying to imagine a place for it in my home, but wisely gave up. But I still remember it, and I still think about it, and I still sometimes regret not buying it. I wonder where it is now? Other really nice antiques I’ve found here are Japanese masks, old army medals, dolls, tools, and so on.
Just to give you a taste, I’ve included photos of the kinds of treasures to found here. As you can see, they are quite colorful, and actually not all that expensive. The sellers seem quite flexible on price, so hopefully you’ll be able to come away with some nice mementos as well!