A flea market for handmade goods is held every month at Kishimojin Temple and Otori-jinja Shrine, both close to Ikebukuro in Tokyo. The markets feature shops lining the grounds of the sites, selling a variety of items such as pottery, accessories, paintings and interior decorations, as well as bread and coffee beans. Originally, the market was held only at Kishimojin Temple, but the number of shops that wished to participate increased, and so Otori-jinja Shrine, a short walk from Kishimojin Temple, became another site for the event.

This flea market began in November 2006, after NAGURA Satoshi, who runs Rojicafe, a cafe in Itabashi Ward, proposed the idea. Through a gallery set up in his cafe, Nagura learned how difficult and expensive it is for artists to rent places to show their work. Hoping to create an opportunity for these artists to present their work in a place that is an extension of daily life, he decided to hold the flea market for handmade goods.

“The temple is my favorite place because it’s so pleasant with a lot of greenery. So I thought that if the event was held there, it would leave a lasting impression on visitors,” says Nagura. It took him 10 months before the first flea market was held; he kept visiting Kishimojin Temple to get approval because he didn’t want to cause any inconvenience to the people managing the temple. When it started, only a little more than 10 shops participated, but before long the reputation of the flea market spread.

Hitsuji Shokudo, which usually sells bagels and scones at events, made its second appearance. “I like this festival because it’s held in the open air and feels great,” says TAKAI Aya, who works at the shop. “We also sell online, but we are happy to see customers pick and buy our products in person.” Their bread made from original yeast was extremely well received and it nearly sold out before lunchtime.

ITO Mari, who was selling accessories, participated in the flea market for the first time. “The appeal of this event is that you can talk to customers directly. I’m going to incorporate the various opinions of the customers into my future work,” she says. Many of the participants cited the direct interaction with customers as a good point of the flea market. Others say they can get inspiration from looking at the work of other participants.

At the flea market in Kishimojin Temple, workshops for making such items as bags and butter knives have also been held occasionally. Talking about his enthusiasm for the workshops, Nagura says: “We hope it will provide people with a good opportunity to think about and try what they might be able to do and feel the joy of making things.”

Text: KAN Naoko

[From January Issue 2010]