Seven Recommended Markets Around Japan With Fantastic Food
Japan, which is blessed with great food from both the land and the sea, has long had markets that support the kitchens of the locals. They have also become popular tourist spots. Below are seven recommended markets across Japan where you can enjoy fantastic food.
1. Nijo Fish Market (Hokkaido)
This market has been popular as the kitchen of Sapporo for more than 100 years. It is within walking distance of central Sapporo, and is a popular market where you can enjoy fresh seafood from all over Hokkaido and sushi from early morning. At this market, free samples of practically every product, including crabs, are offered. If you like any of the samples that you taste, purchase enough to take home or to eat while walking around! This market is popular among tourists, with some shops now employing staff who can speak English or Chinese. It is a great place to enjoy fantastic seafood from early in the morning while hearing the lively calls of the salespeople.
2. Tsukiji Market (Tokyo)
The outer market of Tsukiji is a great place for the general public to enjoy shopping and eating in a wholesale market environment. There is a variety of traditional Japanese foods available to be purchased, such as fish, vegetables, and meats. Tsukiji is known as a place where you can enjoy sushi and seafood bowls made with fresh seafood at reasonable prices, but there is so much more than that! There are many shops that sell items you can eat while walking around, as well as a variety of restaurants serving ramen, bread, and other dishes. There are shops down the narrow alleys as well. The wholesale fish market opens early, so the shops also open and close early, with most of them closing by 2:00 pm. Some of these shops also close when the market is closed on Sundays, national holidays, and Wednesdays. Be sure to check in advance if there is a particular shop you are interested in!
*The wholesale market at Tsukiji will move to Toyosu in October 2018, but the outer market will remain where it is.
3. Katsuura Morning Market (Chiba)
This is one of Japan's three major morning markets and has been running for more than 400 years. It is a market with great atmosphere and friendly conversations with numerous stalls selling fresh seafood, local vegetables, homemade pickles, freshly made mochi, and crafts such as bamboo crafts. It is famous for the seafood bowls as well as the warabi mochi (bracken-starch dumpling) by Nanban-ya that has often featured in the media, and Katsuura Tantan-men that was originally developed for fishermen to warm up. Many of the shops do not open too early in the morning, so the best time to go is around 8:00 am. The market opens on Shimo-Honcho Asaichi-dori from the first to the 15th of the month and on Naka-Honcho Asaichi-dori from the 16th to the end of the month (closed on Wednesdays).
4. Hida Takayama Miyagawa Morning Market (Gifu)
This is a popular spot that you won't want to miss if you go to Hida Takayama, and is one of Japan's three major morning markets. A wide range of items, such as pickles made by local housewives, local vegetables, and specialty products and crafts, are sold every day along Miya River, between Kaji Bridge and Yayoi Bridge. It is exciting just to have a look while walking around, and many of the shops will give you samples of the pickles, vegetables and fruits. There is also a variety of items to buy to eat while walking around, such as mitarashi dango (skewered rice dumplings in a sweet soy glaze), skewers of Hida beef, and even coffee in cups made of cookie. Having a bite to eat while looking around the stalls is fun, but an alternative option is to sit down by the river and eat what you've bought. The market reaches its peak at around 10:00 am. It tends to be crowded at the weekend, so be sure to go early. Once you've filled your stomach, you can begin your tour of Hida Takayama with its historic townscape.
5. Misaki Fish Market (Kanagawa)
Official Name: Miura City Misaki Seafood Regional Wholesale Market
This is a place with rows of maguro (tuna) restaurants near a fishing port that can be visited on a day trip from Tokyo. It is one of Japan's leading ports for maguro fishing and you can see the frozen maguro being bid on from up on the second floor of the huge building (bidding dates should be confirmed.) At the Urari Marche next door, you can purchase maguro and products processed from maguro, try fishing at a fish pond in the ocean, and enjoy a sightseeing boat ride. At the Misaki Morning Market held every Sunday (5:00 am - 9:00 am), you can purchase maguro and vegetables, as well as having your fill of a variety of different gourmet items. This is a place where you'll be able to have a lively experience unique to a morning market at a fishing port.
6. Nishiki Market (Kyoto)
This is a lively commercial district popular as the kitchen of Kyoto, and is full of seasonal foods of Kyoto. the 390m-long market has about 130 shops selling items that represent Kyoto's unique food culture, such as Kyoto pickles, Kyoto vegetables and tea, sushi, tofu and sweets. In recent years, it has been popular among tourists as a place for purchasing food to eat while walking around, and is full of mouthwatering items such as soy milk donuts made by a tofu shop, chocolate croquettes, sashimi skewers, tempura, and Japanese-style omelets full of the flavors of dashi broth. Many stores offer tasters as well. The market is covered so you don't need to worry about the rain. It is a fantastic market you'll want to keep going back to.
7. Makishi Public Market (Okinawa)
This is a tourist spot where you can get any and all Okinawan ingredients, and thoroughly experience Okinawan food. On the first floor, there are more than 120 shops selling souvenirs and sweets, uniquely Okinawan ingredients such as colorful fish, pigs feet (tebichi), pig face skin (chiragaa) and shima rakkyo (island scallion), as well as mangoes and pineapples, even in the winter. The second floor is full of restaurants, some of which will cook ingredients you purchase downstairs for you. The market is covered so you need not worry about the weather. It is in a convenient location within walking distance of Naha International Street.
Markets and morning markets are great places to experience Japan's food culture. They are places where you can enjoy wonderful food and shopping, have great conversations with the vendors and create some wonderful memories.
*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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