One of the countries that’s so well known for their seafood and how they’ve gloriously incorporated it in their culture is Japan. Their sushi is a worldwide favorite and a must have in all Japanese restaurants in the world. But where else could you get the freshest and most delicately prepared seafood dishes than in the numerous seafood ports and markets dotting the country. And you don’t have to buy their produce and cook it at home because within these ports or probably just next door to these markets are well-loved restaurants who’ll serve you the most picture perfect and lip smacking seafood dishes.
Tsukiji market is probably one of the most popular in Japan and you can view a lot of documentaries about this humongous seafood haven. But not a lot of tourists know that there are other amazing ports and markets outside Tokyo and they all have the freshest catch that you can enjoy as well. Some of the larger and more popular ports are in the Kansai region and they supply the restaurants and hotels of the prefectures and even the entire country with high quality seafood that is always a must in Japanese cuisine.
Tourists could at anytime marvel at the markets’ offerings but there are certain ports and markets that are not open to the public during certain days of the week or if they are indeed open to the public, only a particular number of people can enter and they open for auctions in the wee hours of dawn. You can always research a bit more if you want to visit one.
Kobe Uonotana Fish Market, Kobe
If you end up in Kobe while visiting Japan and you’re craving for seafood, this fish market in Akashi is the place to be. The name means “fish self” and it’s exactly what it is as it has supplied the local community with marine produce for over 400 years. Their offerings come in direct from the Akashi Straits and are already available around 3:00 a.m. Restaurant owners and representatives flock to the market that early just to get the freshest catch to fill their menu for the day.
Nakanoshima Fishing Port, Osaka
Opening its doors back in 2015, the port, located by the Ajigawa River is fairly new but is gaining popularity among the locals and tourists who’ve found out about this sightseeing attraction and gastronomical gem. After checking out their seafood especially the live ones in aquariums, you can dine in under tents or go al fresco with the sea as your backdrop. Their cafeteria, Nakanoshima Minato, has a wide variety of sumptuous seafood items to choose from and everything is delectable and budget friendly.
Izumisano Aozora-Ichiba Market, Osaka
Located right across from Kansai International Airport, this 100 meter fish market houses 30 shops that sells seafood on a large scale. There’s a huge selection of seafood to choose from and is known to be the the second biggest supplier in the entire country. You can always feast on their fresh catch on the second floor restaurant called Iruka where you can choose from their set meals and a variety of grilled dishes. This is a very popular seafood destination so expect waiting on long queues especially during weekends.
Tajiri Port, Osaka
This famous port is open only on Sundays for 5 hours, that’s 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. So, if you’re planning to visit, schedule a weekend trip to Osaka, visit other attractions on Saturday and set off early to this port the following day. In case your itinerary can’t accommodate a Sunday trip to this port, you can still sample their dishes at Nishikawa, the port’s restaurant. Come on weekends so you won’t have to wait too long to get a table. Dinner time is quite busy so it’s a great idea to make reservations. Enjoy their sushi, sashimi, and of course their tempura at a very affordable price.
Nishiki Market, Kyoto
This shopping area with 126 shops brings you the best seafood in this side of the country. It prides itself with the availability of a large selection of ingredients for their very own cuisine that includes the freshest catch from the sea as well as vegetables that are distinctively from Kyoto. It’s been around for 400 years and they started out cooling their produce using underground water before refrigeration was invented. Under the Edo shogunate in 1615, they were then recognized as a fish wholesaler.
Michi-no-Eki Maizuru Port, Kyoto
There’s plenty of inexpensive seafood that you can eat grilled or however you want it with bowls of rice that can be purchased in vending machines. Raw seafood can also be purchased and eaten directly from where you purchased them. All you have to do is pick them out, pay for them and they do the cleaning and preparation for you. Imagine how many items you can sample while walking around in this well-loved market. Their oysters have quite a following and so are their crabs, scallops, squid and so much more.
Kaibutsuyaki Nakajima Suisan at Fukushima
Everyone knows how precious and famous fugu is. If you’re adventurous enough to want to try it out, it’s available here in Fukushima and normally enjoyed in the winter. Eels are also widely sampled in the summer. Their marine produce comes straight from Awajishima so you don’t have to go to the island to relish their delicacies. There’s counter seating on the floor and traditional Japanese seating for a more comfortable dining experience on the second floor.
Toretore Market Nanki Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture
How nice and convenient is it to be able to barbecue right away the seafood that you just purchased to your liking. You can grill whatever is in your bag and still eat them as fresh as ever. In the stalls next to the market, you can enjoy your selection for a small charge per head without having to go home or to a hotel to grill. It’s a bus ride away from the beach, so you can always take a dip or relax after your seafood feast. This market is bustling with life all year round so you don’t have to worry about schedules and availability because you can visit anytime.
It’s amazing to be able to eat your choice of seafood right after you pay for it. Even more amazing to be able to eat it when it was alive just a few minutes before. Seafood markets in Japan have been tourist destinations because of the convenience, world class service and top quality produce that they offer all year round. Although there are guidelines that you have to follow especially in wholesale markets, you’d certainly still enjoy watching, choosing and feasting on the bounty from their seas when you visit them.