Four Wonderful Markets in Japan

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

If you are looking for a place to buy fresh produce, locally sourced ingredients, or cheap clothing, then why not check out one of the many markets in Japan. Try some fish caught the same morning at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, or eat some traditional food at Nishiki Market in Kyoto. Here are four of the most popular markets in Japan:

Omicho Market

Four Wonderful Markets in Japan

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Omicho Market, which has a 290-year history dating back from 1690 in the Edo Era, is called the kitchen of Kanazawa. Currently, there are more than 100 shops and restaurants specializing in fish, vegetables, fruits with ingredients found locally. This market is not just crowded with the locals but also with tourists. Since Ishikawa Prefecture faces the Japan Sea, it is flush with many kinds of freshly-caught fish and there is also a lot of unusual varieties that really can’t be gotten in Tokyo.

There are also many fish shops which invite eating-in, and with seafood like fresh rock oysters, jumbo shrimp and sea urchins, you can easily have the seasonal fare as sashimi right there. And aside from sashimi, you can walk around and try Kanazawa delicacies such as grilled and skewered fish and shrimp croquettes. There are also plenty of various dining establishments such as sushi bars naturally serving hand-shaped sushi and bowls of rice topped with sashimi, curry places, ramen joints and a French restaurant which uses Kaga vegetables. There are many fresh food shops open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but please be aware that there are also many stores that are closed on Wednesdays. Depending on the time, there are also events such as mochitsuki (rice cake-pounding) and nanakusa gayu (rice porridge with seven herbs) A 15-minute walk from Kenroku-en Garden, it’s a tourist spot that you want to head for at least once. 

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Omicho Market
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Omicho Market
Tours of Omicho Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Four Wonderful Markets in Japan
Tsukiji is one of the world’s greatest fish markets in a nation whose fisheries industry is irreplaceable for the Japanese and in a world which has grown to love sushi and sashimi. But it’s not just fish…there are also many restaurants which take care of fruits and vegetables. The peak of this activity and business is also called Tokyo’s kitchen. You can get a close glimpse of things such as the wheeling and dealing between suppliers at the auctions at this commercial facility which has been so since the very beginning.  

Among all the activity at Tsukiji, watching the carving of the tuna is recommended. The statistics show that the Japanese population consumes a considerable amount of tuna; it is estimated that the percentage is more than 80% of the world’s tuna stock. Amongst other kinds of fish retailing at the market, tuna is the primary variety of fish that is traded at the market. The preparation of the entire fish for retail purposes is a popular happening amongst visitors to the market. The opportunity to observe the merchants skillfully carving the massive tuna with their specialist knives is an experience distinctive to Japan’s Tsukiji Market. Moreover, the liveliness of the fish market is representative of the energy characteristic to food markets in Japan. Although the market is primarily a commercial hub, there are days when the market is not open. Furthermore, there are often times when the operating hours are restricted to just after noontime, so before deciding to visit, it is necessary that you confirm that the market is open on the day you plan to visit on the market’s official homepage.    

Since the inner market operates primarily as a commercial center for merchants and wholesalers, the average visitor cannot enter the auction proceedings. However, there is plenty to see and discover time at the Outer Market. At the Outer Market, you will find a wealth of restaurants and you can even purchase fresh produce and ingredients directly from the market. Naturally, a visit to Tsukiji Market would not be complete without sampling the fresh fish at one of the restaurants through the prepared sushi and sashimi. For those who do not take a liking to raw fish, the Tsukiji market is also famed for its other culinary offerings. Amongst them, the most widely known is Tsukiji’s gyu-don (beef on a bed of rice), a dish that mostly all Japanese are familiar with.    

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Tsukiji Fish Market
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tsukiji Fish Market
Tours of Tsukiji Fish Market

Nishiki Market

Four Wonderful Markets in Japan

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Located right in the center of Kyoto, Nishiki Market is a shopping area which measures 390m and has 126 shops. It has a long history of 400 years. In long-ago Kyoto which had no refrigeration, the people used underground water to keep their foods cold. In 1615, when the area received its title to be a fish wholesaler from the Edo shogunate, it progressed as a fish market, and then with the creation of the Kyoto Central Wholesale Market in 1927, Nishiki Market evolved into its current form. At Nishiki Market, perishable items such as fish and Kyoto vegetables, famous Kyoto pickles and o-banzai (Kyoto jargon for side dishes) are sold. Food distinctive to Kyoto can all be brought together here at Nishiki Market, Kyoto’s kitchen. With the advent of supermarkets and department stores, Nishiki lost a bit of that energy for a while, but that guaranteed quality and the abundance of food has made it a place that is loved by tourists and locals alike.  

With things like the registration of Japanese food as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, the current topic of “wa-shoku” includes the famous sushi and tempura, but even within Japan, the brand of Kyoto cuisine stands out. It’s a cuisine that makes good use of the tastiness of fresh ingredients such as tofu, fish and Kyoto vegetables. Kyoto cuisine regards appearance and atmosphere as important and it is something to be enjoyed with all five senses. At Nishiki Market which has shops dealing in Kyoto cuisine, there is a collection of all that is tasty in Kyoto. It is a market that can be enjoyed just on sight alone, but since tasting samples are richly provided, please sample the real food of Kyoto. Searching for interesting examples of wa-shoku such as famous Kyoto pickles and mellow-tasting Japanese-style omelettes is also fun. 

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Nishiki Market
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nishiki Market
Tours of Nishiki Market

Ameyoko (Ameya-Yokochō)

Four Wonderful Markets in Japan

(image by flickr.com)

After the war, Ameyoko, though it was called a black market, was a place that was indispensable for survival. From Narita, it’s the closest shopping district in Tokyo.

Since there were a lot of stores selling candy there, the area was called “Ame-ya Yokocho” (Candy Store Lane). It was also called “America Yokocho” because it sold contraband goods from the US army. The two names got confusing so it’s said that the name ended up as “Ameyoko”. In the past, there were markets in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro, but now there is only Ameyoko in Ueno. There are 520 stores selling everything from foods and products for everyday living to clothing, watches and health goods. Ameyoko is a street that has a very inexpensive image with many shops that offer products that are cheaper than usual. 

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Ameyoko
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Ameyoko
Tours of Ameyoko

 

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