Fifteen years ago the Japanese emperor Akihito visited Leiden. Every year the Sieboldhuis, a Japanese museum, organizes a Japanmarkt in memory of his visit. This year was my third time I came to admire the market for what it was – a lovely street filled with stands selling Japanese foods and goods. Besides all the amazing cultural an traditional goods any fan of the Japanese pop culture will find plenty of cosplay, manga and anime merchandise. Furthermore there is also enough to do!
The festivities started at 12:00 p.m.. I advice you to come around this hour of the day, because it won’t be that busy. Last year I visited the Japanmarkt at noon and I could walk around without fearing to step on anyone’s toes. This year I left home a little late. I managed to arrive around a half past two. Even though I had some regrets about not being there around 12:00 p.m., taking a stroll along the stands made those regrets go away.
The pictures I took above are from a stand I’ve seen three times now. I also have taken pictures of the stand and their vendors all of those three years. There is always a big queue in front of their stand, people waiting in order to get Japanese squid balls known as Takoyaki.
I continued walking towards the next stand and found loads of manga. Manga readers were searching through the books in the hope they would find any nice title. Together with the manga they sold figures and other anime merchandise as well. The next stand was all about Fukushima – promoting and showing the positive aspects.
At some point I encountered a stand full of alcoholic beverages. The vendor looked pretty familiar. I realized I had seen him before in a Japanese supermarket in Amsterdam. This guy is very friendly and speak the Japanese language very well. Tatsuya bought us a drink called Yuzu once from him. Another thing that looked pretty familiar was a stand with gorgeous looking cutting boards and kitchen equipment. Last year I snapped a picture of their cute stuffed animal mouse too.
A Japanmarkt wouldn’t be complete without some Japanese candy, chocolate and cookies. Also this year they had tables full of them. It took me quite a while to get a closer look at all the products. Once I got closer I found out about sushi socks. Funny looking things, though the socks felt very soft and comfy.
As I said there is plenty to do at the Japanmarkt as well. Not only for kids, but adults too. I saw two young men competing in a game of Japanese chess while people walked by and stopped to observe them. Concentrating on what their next move would be I walked on to the next stand were things were a little less tense. A stand where Budocentrum Junansei was promoting all of the martial arts they are currently teaching.
Bright colors and fluffy things sparked up my interest as I walked up to the next stand. From cosplay items to sweet lolita style, from hats to heels and from necklaces to handbags. Reality Will Kill You has it all. I think they are having a problem with their website at the moment, but if you have any interest be sure to check them on their facebook page.
More and more food stands appeared as I walked further. These might be the busiest stands at the Japanmarkt, because who doesn’t love food? Especially Japanese food. At some point I found myself a delicious bite of food too.
I think Kendo is gaining a lot of popularity in The Netherlands lately. I hear and see a lot about it and I think that is great! Kendo is a wonderful sport from what I have seen of it. Maybe one day I will join a class, just out of curiosity.
More merchandise and books. I loved Link made of the perler beads. It is so creative!
Tons of plushies were to be found further ahead. I saw so many characters that I knew like Mario, Sonic, Totoro (which kind of creeped me out!), hello kitty etc.. Then I saw some more merchandise and candy.
After passing most of the products that screamed Japanese pop culture I saw some more traditional pottery and dining utilities. Doesn’t it look lovely? I really want to have a nice tea pot out of Japan once. Perfect for making some healthy green tea which I drink every night. That would make a great investment. The last picture shows some fabric of kimono.
For the native or self thought Japanese speakers there a many old and new books to choose from.
It looks like the cosplayer group gets bigger each year. I encountered a lot of them. Most of them probably came for a cosplay photo shoot being held in the garden of the museum. The Sieboldhuis website stated that there were photo shoots at 13:30, 15:00 and 16:00. Too bad I read it afterwards or I would’ve checked it out as well.
From my experience you will need less than an hour to view the Japanmarkt, maybe a bit more when it is very busy. On the other hand it is not yet an event worth coming across the whole country for. Although it might be one day! It looks like it is getting busier and more activities are being organized. Until now if you live in or around Leiden and you have a couple of hours to spare on a Sunday, you should definitely take a look.
Finally I ate some inari sushi and chilled beside a river looking at the boats passing by. The weather was on point, the atmosphere amazing. A day well spend :).
Japanmarkt video from 2014
JAPAN MARKT Zondag 24 mei 2015 | 12:00 – 17:00 | Rapenburg, Leiden