In a nutshell, it’s two things.
To be fair, it’s also a pretty enjoyable anime about the way of life in a tightly-knit community. It’s also about the adventure of a strange, talking bird. I’m not sure if any of those take away the feeling to crave mame daifuku after watching Tamako and her family crank them out like prideful craft-masters doing what they’ve been doing all their lives.
Tamako Market is also one of those weird things where there’s very little to say the more you include in it. It’s more a microscope into the very small lives of a girl and the people around her. It’s easier for me to talk about episode 9 than episodes one to twelve.
It’s weird, because I can’t say the writing was bad; in fact the writing was excellent. Maybe the concept was just so pedestrian? Was it just managing expectations? Was it yet another example of how Kyoani fails to handle itself despite the source material? Well, it was enjoyable and a good time.
If I had to describe Tamako Market with an inept metaphor, it would be a microscope. It’s one thing to read about Kyoto and see it in an anime, it’s another to live there, to experience the moment. With a show like Tamako Market, it blows up the everyday and put things into perspective as if you were a plucky 16yo mochi maker. Suddenly, you can believe that 7 gods reside in each grain of rice, or that birds can very well talk when sufficiently exotic. Or how hanging out in a quaint espresso bar upstairs across the street make you realize just how everything really is. It is True Tourism IMO, in that it is more real than you being actually there: hyperreality.
By the way, so they do make these in the States. Now just need to figure out how to get a box of these…