Last week my dad visited Kyoto from the UK. We had a lot of things planned, but he said he really wanted to visit the antiques market in front of Heian-Jingu Shrine.
It was hot when we arrived, and there were hordes of people browsing the market stalls. It seemed like there was a lot of history on display, but also a lot of junk. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference. In movies, you often see cursed objects being sold at markets like these, so I inspected everything carefully. It would be very bothersome to bring home an evil spirit inside of a grandfather clock or something like that. In fact, that’s why IKEA furniture is so convenient – it’s never haunted.
We spent a long time looking around, and I lost count of all the stalls we saw. The best thing was a stall selling large pieces of driftwood, which had been worn smooth by years at sea. I wanted to buy some, but if I start collecting wood in my apartment I will look like a beaver.
My dad found some ceramic cups that he liked, but there was no price written on them, so he asked me to consult the salesman. The seller was relaxing in a deckchair in the shade, and he told me the cups were 1000 yen each. But I wanted to try haggling in Japanese, so I asked for a discount since we were buying 4 cups. He refused. I tried to convince him, but he stood up and showed us lots of other ceramics and claimed they were all made by a well-known artisan. Unfortunately I don’t know how to talk about ceramics in Japanese, so I didn’t understand a lot of what he said and just nodded politely (nodding and smiling is the easiest way to deal with any situation).
After that there was a lot of silence as my dad was thinking. Eventually, the salesman looked at my father’s expressionless face and said “OK, 3500 yen”, and we finally bought them. To be honest, I have no idea if we got a good deal. But my dad was happy and the cups were quite charming. However, there remains one final test: they must survive the luggage handling at the airport.
I hope they will make the journey home.