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About a ten minute bike ride from our flat is Shitennoji (四天王寺), officially the oldest, active Buddhist temple in all of Japan. Pretty darn neato! And while the temple itself seems nice, what took me there was not the grounds themselves but what happens on the 21st and 22nd of each month, the Shitennoji Flea Market.

I’m not exactly huge on antiquing, mind you, but I have to admit to enjoying the kind of first-hand, low-grade anthropological experience that looking at old things in person can provide. Obviously, one would usually go to a museum for that kind of exposure but museums tend to focus on the exceptional and extraordinary.

Flea markets, on the other hand, give you the completely unextraordinary ephemera from recent eras that, at least in my humble view, provide a much more accessible level of relatability. I haven’t interacted with crown jewels too much in my day, but stacks of old vinyl records or bins full of pocket knives? Stuffed animals or old crappy cameras that probably haven’t worked in years? Those are artifacts that are in my direct experience and are the kind of thing I can wrap my head around.

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When I arrived, the temple grounds were lined with stalls and temporary tents, all packed with what I assume are the cheaply acquired spoils from so many bulk estate sales, representing periods reaching back several generations. All kinds of… crap from all aspects of daily life (though some of it is very nice crap, to be sure!). Of course, what makes this interesting from my point of view is that the farther back you go in Japanese daily life, the farther it diverges from my own experiences. You may not even be able to suss out the function of some things without asking the person manning the stall.

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Ah yes, a spread of traditional Japanese weaponry.

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“Pardon me, do you have any knick-knacks or curios, perhaps with a Demonic Mickey theme?”

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Hoooo, boy. o_0

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Since you could easily spend most of the day exploring all the loot, some vendors wisely set up food and drink stalls.

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C’mon, tell me you wouldn’t enjoy buying a nice tea set from this dude! He was negotiating a deal with a (I think) German gentleman when I snapped this. There were actually a fair amount of tourists at the market and all the vendors I saw were totally relaxed in engaging them (not always the case when you’re a foreigner in Japan).

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Sure, these are things that all naturally go together. Why not?

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This guy and his dog were so cuddling the hell out of each other and it was just adorable. I straight up asked him, “Do you mind if I get a photo of you two awesome friends?”  Obviously, he didn’t mind. 🙂

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All told, I spent an hour or so strolling around the market, and while I didn’t buy anything this time I wouldn’t hesitate to go back in an instant. Heck, I may just make this a monthly pilgrimage. Especially if the keep putting out awesome aloha shirts like this.

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