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Local Market Guide for Japan

Japan is a nation of contrasts and diversity, sporting everything from a rich Samurai heritage to pristine landscapes. It is also famous for its numerous markets and shopping areas, be they kaleidoscopic arcades or traditional fish markets crammed with a plethora of Japanese culinary delights.

The exciting thing about markets, is having a chance to meet and talk with the locals while purchasing something for your loved ones. Here is a carefully selected mix of five of the best markets and shopping areas in Japan.

Highlights

  • There are lots of local markets in Japan, some of them are really famous and worth a visit!
  • Purchase a unique local-craft souvenir for your friends back home, that can only be found at Takayama morning market.
  • Visit the world’s largest fish market.
  • Wander around in a shopping street and taste the local food.
  • Visit Kuromon Market and you can find anything from fresh seafood and vegetables, to clothing and unique souvenirs.

Japanese markets

Markets are becoming more and more popular in Japan, that’s a fact. Generally located in the vicinity of shrines, in a shopping mall or even in the middle of a city, they feature a variety of items from street food to handmade silver jewelry and traditional Japanese clothes.

You can also find shopping streets across Japan. These shopping streets usually support the life of local communities, and it’s fun to get a glimpse of how local people live. A variety of products, such as food and daily necessities are sold at reasonable prices, and you can also enjoy interacting with people working in the stores.

Apart from common markets and shopping streets, you could start your day at a morning market. The exciting thing about morning markets are: They are surrounded by the fresh morning air, full with locals buying their households items, and you can also buy items directly from the producer. Below is a list of must-visit-markets if you are in Japan:

Markets Location Things to see or buy Opening Hours
Nishiki Market Kyoto Local street-food and Kyoto specialties Everyday (9:30-18:00)
Omicho Market Kanazawa Fresh fruit, unique Kaga vegetables and seasonal seafood. 8:00 to around 18:00 (varying with each store)
Takayama Morning Market Takayama Local-craft souvenirs, vegetables, pickles and flowers. 6:00 (7:00 in winter) to noon.
Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo World's largest fish market Outer Market: varies by shop, typically 5:00 to 14:00 Wholesale Area: open to visitors after 11:00am Closed on: Sundays and some Wednesdays; please double-check on the official website.
Kuromon Market Osaka Famous for fresh seafood. Everyday (9:00-18:00)

Nishiki Market

Known to locals as “Kyoto’s pantry”, Nishiki Market is the best traditional food market in the city. This five block long shopping street is lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants.

The market specializes in all things food-related, like fresh seafood, farm produce, knives and cookware. It’s a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Some of the shops give out samples for free or sell sample dishes and skewers meant to be eaten then and there. There are also a few small restaurants and food stands selling ready-made food.

The market has a history of several centuries, and many stores have been operated by the same families for generations. It all started as a fish wholesale district, with the first shop opening around 1310. A larger variety of shops moved in later, and the area changed from a wholesale market to retail. Today it remains an important market for Kyoto and is often packed with locals and tourists alike.

Omicho Market

The Omi-cho Market was established about the middle of the 18th century. Since then, it has been supporting the gastronomic culture of Kanazawa for more than 280 years.

There are about 200 stores and stalls in this market, selling fresh fish and seafood caught in the Sea of Japan, unique Kaga vegetables, fruit, dried food and marine produce, groceries, and clothing, besides many restaurants. Crabs, yellowtail, and small shrimp from the Sea of Japan that are sold around November, in particular, are highly esteemed in Japan.

Although the market is most exciting during the morning hours, it also gets quite busy around noon, when tourists and locals arrive to have lunch at restaurants inside the market.

Takayama Morning Market

Takayama Morning Market is one of the biggest morning markets in Japan. The stalls in this market sell vegetables, fruit, pickles, spices, sweets and handicraft items. Some shops sell Japanese souvenirs such as chopsticks and small items, in addition to Takayama local souvenirs which include sarubobo dolls and ichiiitto-bori wooden carvings.

This market is open until almost noon. However, if you stay in Takayama, we recommend you to arrive around 6:00 am, when the market opens. You will see energetic local people set up the stalls, wearing traditional work clothes and Japanese cooking aprons with sleeves.

Tsukiji Fish Market

There are two main parts to the market: the outer market to the west of Harumi Dori, with numerous small shops and chains; and the inner market stalls selling everything from sea urchin to whale meat. This is also the place to watch the famous tuna auction.

There is a wholesale area in this market whichconsists of hundreds of small stands in a large, crowded hall, where buyers and sellers hurry along narrow lanes with their carts and trucks. It is an area where serious business is conducted.

A visit to Tsukiji Market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the local restaurants. There are restaurants both in the inner and outer market area, which are typically open from 5:00 in the morning to around noon or early afternoon.

Depending on when you get to the Tsukiji Market, you will probably have to wait one to two hours in order to get into the market. And you will need to line-up to watch the tuna auction.

Market relocation

The Fish Market is relocating to a larger location in Toyosu. It is set to reopen on October 11, where you will be able to experience the same atmosphere in a bigger place.

Tsukiji Fish Market guided tour

If you travel to this famous market with Asia Highlights, we will provide you with a professional guide to make your visit more fun and more informative; also you won’t get lost inside this gigantic market. After visiting the market, you can enjoy a sushi-making lesson with a professional chef, then you can enjoy your homemade sushi for lunch.

This tour will start around 8:30 am and lasts for 4-5 hours. You can choose to go there by public transportation or by private car with a driver. You will be picked up at your hotel. The price starts from 33,210yen/person if you choose public transport and 78,880yen/person with a private car. Please note: This is a private tour with a maximum of 6 people. The price is lower the more people there are in the group.

Kuromon Market

KuromonIchiba is a lively covered market which stretches for 580 meters in Osaka’s Chuo Ward. Nicknamed “Osaka’s kitchen” because both, local homeowners and restaurant chefs, get their supplies there, the market is famous for its fresh seafood and has recently become a popular tourist location.

One reason for the market’s popularity is that many stalls will prepare, cook and serve their food for you right on the spot. This makes it an excellent venue for strolling, sampling, and snacking on a delicious variety of fresh market foods.

In the market you will find around 150 stores, about a quarter of which sell fresh fish and seafood. The rest of the stores are largely devoted to fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dried fish, pickles, and confectionery. There are also a small number of supermarkets and clothing stalls.

A guided local market visit

Experience a flexible private tour in Japan, with a friendly personal guide from Asia Highlights! Visit the famous shopping streets and markets with our knowledgeable guide. Enjoy the vibrant local life at the market and interact with sellers and buyers along the way.

Discover the Japanese markets which are like no other! Find hidden gems at each market you visit and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Explore Japanese markets with Asia Highlights

Visiting the world’s largest fish marketor exploring the biggest morning market is a must when you are in Japan. However, things might get complicated if you visit these markets on your own. Explore the Japanese markets with Asia Highlights and let us deal with the hassle for you, so you can relax and enjoy your time! Please contact us if you have any questions.

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