When talking about Hokkaido, seafood like crabs and sea urchins come into mind. The markets found all over Hokkaido are places where you can get a hold of fresh seafood and various foods, and even eat them on the spot. Below are five of the most popular markets in Hokkaido!
1. Nijo Market (Sapporo)
Nijo Market has been loved as the kitchen of Sapporo for more than a century. Located in the heart of the city, it is easily accessible, so it has been gaining popularity along with Maruyama and Tanuki-koji. There are around 60 stores inside this market that still show traces of the past through structures such as tin roofing. Crabs, scallops, potatoes, and other Hokkaido ingredients are all sold here. There are also restaurants where you can enjoy kaisen-don (seafood bowl) and sushi. In particular, it is recommended to visit multi-tenant buildings such as the retro Noren Yokocho, as they house many unique dining and drinking spots.
Closing Days: Varies according to the shop
2. Otaru Sankaku Market (Otaru)
Otaru Sankaku Market is found right next to Otaru Station. Inside, there are 16 stores that line up the narrow slope that measures 200m in length and about 2m in width. You will be able to enjoy the distinct liveliness that’s associated with markets by hearing the energetic shopkeepers call customers into their stores and negotiate prices with them.
Fresh seafood like crabs, sea urchins, and scallops are the main attractions of this market, but vegetables, fruits, and daily necessities are are also sold for extremely low prices. There are dining and drinking establishments as well, where you can savor dishes cooked with seasonal ingredients. You can even have the ingredients you bought at the market cooked for you on the spot to create your own original donburi (bowl of rice with various toppings)!
Closing Days: Open throughout the year
3. Sapporo Central Wholesale Market’s Curb Market (Sapporo)
The Curb Market (“Jogai Ichiba” in Japanese) is adjacent to the Central Wholesale Market. The shopkeepers of the roughly 60 stores that fill this market are all expert appraisers. They stock extremely fresh seafood, vegetables, and fruits every day. There is also a cafeteria inside the market where you can relish splendid seafood right there and then. The highlight of this market is the tour of the auctions at the wholesale market. You can experience the dynamic vibe of the market at the seafood section from 5:15 am to around 6:30 am, and at the produce section from 6:30 am to around 7:30 am (except on days when the market is closed and during busy seasons).
Closing Days: Open throughout the year (varies according to the shop)
※Advanced registration is required for the auction tour
4. Kushiro Washo Ichiba Market (Kushiro)
Washo Ichiba, just within short walking distance from Kushiro Station, is a market that houses around 60 shops. It has an extensive selection of products that are unique to the port town of Kushiro. The majority of the items sold here are seafood and marine products, but there are also rare items like katsuobushi (sliced dried bonito) and sanma (Pacific saury) jerky. Various types of crabs can also be found in certain seasons, such as kegani (hair crab), zuwaigani (snow crab), and tarabagani (red king crab), so it’ll remain interesting no matter how many times you visit. The specialty of this market, the Katte-don, is a donburi that can be topped with your preferred seafood. You have to try it when you come to Kushiro!
Closing Days: Sundays (varies by month)
5. Hakodate Morning Market's Ekini Market (Hakodate)
Hakodate Morning Market is a place that is packed with about 280 stores and visited by nearly 2 million tourists every year. At the center of this place is the indoor market called “Ekini Ichiba” that offers a wide array of seafood, salted and dried goods, souvenirs, and various other products. Head to Niban-kan – the cafeteria on the 2nd floor – to get a dish whipped up with what you bought at the market. One of the famous attractions here is the Ganso Katsu-ika Tsuribori, where you can use a fishing rod to fish squid that has been caught from nearby seas out from a water tank. Once fished, you can enjoy it sliced on the spot!
Closing Days: 3rd Wednesday of the month (no holidays in July – September and December)
For those who are thinking about touring Hokkaido, be sure to drop by these markets and relish all the fresh ingredients that they have to offer.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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