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Local Market Guide in Japan: 10 Best Markets in Japan

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Are you planning a visit to Japan and want to explore the vibrant local market scene? Look no further! This local market guide in Japan presents the top 10 best markets in the country, each offering a unique and colorful experience. From the bustling streets of Kyoto to the fish-centric markets of Tokyo and the historical charm of Otaru, Japan boasts a diverse array of markets that are a delight for both locals and tourists. These street markets in Japan are not just places to shop, but they are cultural hubs that offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of each region. So, let’s dive into the colorful and lively world of the best markets in Japan!

Japan Food Market
A Food Market in Japan

General Facts about Markets in Japan

Exploring Japan’s markets unveils a rich tapestry of the country’s culture, food, and handcrafted treasures. These bustling marketplaces, commonly known as ‘ichiba’ in Japanese, offer an array of experiences. Whether you seek fresh seafood, local delights, souvenirs, or good bargains, the markets scattered across Japan cater to diverse tastes and budgets. Here are key insights and characteristics about these vibrant marketplaces:

‘Ichiba’ Diversity: Distinct Market Names

In Japan, markets go by the name ‘ichiba’ (市場), which essentially translates to “marketplace” or “bazaar” in English. Some markets carry specific titles based on their locality, goods, or historical relevance. For instance, there are ‘asaichi’ (朝市) for morning markets, ‘jogai ichiba’ (場外市場) for markets outside wholesale areas, and ‘wasso ichiba’ (和装市場) for traditional Japanese clothing markets.

Varied Landscapes: Market Diversity

These markets can be found across urban and rural areas, each varying in size, operating frequency, and hours. While some markets open daily, others operate on specific days of the week or month. Some markets stand as permanent structures, while others assemble as temporary stalls along streets or parking lots. Additionally, market setups range from indoor spaces to outdoor areas or covered arcades.

Product Diversity: Market Offerings

Offering a wide array of products, these markets cater to a broad spectrum of needs—from fresh and processed foods to clothing, accessories, household items, antiques, crafts, flowers, books, and electronics. While some markets specialize in specific products, others offer a mixed variety. Some cater primarily to locals, whereas others draw in tourists and visitors.

Cultural & Culinary Interaction

Japan’s markets provide an immersive experience into local culture and cuisine, allowing interaction with both vendors and customers. You can savor diverse dishes and snacks at the market stalls, ranging from seafood donburi (rice bowls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), mochi (rice cakes), pickles, and sweets. Additionally, these market visits offer insights into the market’s history, regional traditions, and the stories and skills of the individuals crafting and selling the goods.

Unique Finds & Bargaining Delights

These marketplaces are not only a shopper’s delight but also a fun and exhilarating place to hunt for unique items. Here, you may stumble upon high-quality products at reasonable prices, alongside rare and vintage treasures not found elsewhere. Bargaining is common, but it’s crucial to be polite and respectful. While some markets uphold fixed prices, others are more flexible, depending on seasonal variations, demand, and supply.

Japan Tokyo Market
A Market in Tokyo

10 Best Markets in Japan

The following table showcases Japan’s top 10 markets, each offering a unique and enjoyable experience. Spread across various cities and regions, these markets cater to diverse interests, providing a range of attractions. Whether it’s the hunt for fresh seafood, local delicacies, souvenirs, or breathtaking views, these markets have something special to offer everyone who visits them.

Market name

City

Things to see or buy

Opening Hours

Nishiki Market

Kyoto

Local cuisine, kitchenware, and crafts

9 am to 6 pm (varies by shop)

Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori

Osaka

Okonomiyaki, imported and local goods, electronic signs

10 am to 9 pm (varies by shop)

Tsukiji Market

Tokyo

Fresh seafood, sushi, knives, and other products

5 am to 2 pm (varies by shop)

Toyosu Fish Market

Tokyo

Tuna auctions, seafood and other items, shuttle bus to Tsukiji or Odaiba

5:30 am to 6:30 pm (varies by shop)

Ueno Ameyoko Market

Tokyo

Clothing and accessories, spices and dried fruits, street food

10 am to 8 pm (varies by shop)

Omicho Fish Market

Kanazawa

Fresh fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and flowers

8 am to 6 pm (varies by shop)

Hakodate Morning Market

Hakodate

Seafood, produce, and souvenirs, local specialties such as squid sashimi, sea urchin, and crab

5 am to noon

Nijo Market

Sapporo

Seafood, meat, vegetables, dairy products, and snacks, fresh seafood dishes such as kaisendon, sushi, and soup curry

7 am to 6 pm (varies by shop)

Otaru Sakaimachi Street

Otaru

Glassware, music boxes, sweets, seafood, and sake, scenic views of the canal and the old warehouses

9 am to 6 pm (varies by shop)

Kawagoe Ichibangai

Kawagoe

Crafts, snacks, and souvenirs, traditional buildings and shops, nearby Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine and the Kawagoe Festival Museum

10 am to 5 pm (varies by shop)

1. Nishiki Market - A Culinary Adventure in Kyoto

If you’re in the heart of Kyoto and hunger strikes, head to Nishiki Market, a lengthy street crammed with over 100 shops selling local delights. Dubbed “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” this spot is where you can discover a wealth of Japanese cuisine, from pickled veggies to tofu and rice crackers, alongside some more unique treats like yakitori chicken or ice cream made from seaweed. It’s not just a market; it’s a taste journey through Kyoto’s history.

Dating back to the 14th century, Nishiki Market’s roots as a wholesale fish market have transformed over time into a bustling hub for both locals and tourists. The market opens daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, except on select Wednesdays and Sundays. Easily accessible from Karasuma or Kawaramachi stations on the Hankyu line, or Shijo station on the Karasuma subway line, it’s a must-visit to soak in Kyoto’s culinary legacy.

Japan Kyoto Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market

2. Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori - Osaka's Vibrant Shopping Streets

In Osaka’s Minami area, two vibrant shopping districts, Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori, stand out. Connected by the covered Ebisubashi-Suji arcade, these areas are famed for their entertainment and nightlife. At Dōtonbori, soak in the neon lights and enjoy the various okonomiyaki stalls along the canal at night. Meanwhile, Shinsaibashi-Suji hosts a variety of shops and eateries selling everything from fashion to electronics.

Both areas boast historical landmarks such as the Shinsaibashi Bridge and the iconic Glico Man sign. A bustling hub throughout the year, especially during festivals and holidays like New Year’s Eve and Halloween, these streets are accessible from Namba or Shinsaibashi stations on the Midosuji subway line.

Japan Osaka Shinsekai District

3. Tsukiji - Tokyo's Fish Market

Tsukiji Market was once the biggest fish market globally before relocating to Toyosu in 2018. Yet, Tsukiji remains vibrant with an outer market that sells fresh seafood, sushi, knives, and more. Nearby, you can explore the unique Indian-style architecture of Tsukiji Honganji Temple and the serene Hamarikyu Gardens, a traditional Japanese garden complete with a tranquil pond and teahouse. Popular among both locals and tourists, Tsukiji’s outer market boasts over 300 shops and eateries open from 5:00 am to 2:00 pm, excluding Sundays and select Wednesdays. It’s a seafood paradise offering tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp, eel, and oysters, alongside items like sushi knives, tea sets, pottery, and souvenirs. Access Tsukiji Market from Tsukiji or Tsukijishijo stations on the Oedo subway line.

Japan Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market
Fresh fish in Tsukiji Fish Market

4. Toyosu - New Home of the Former Tsukiji Market

Toyosu Fish Market, the new home of the former Tsukiji market, sits on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay, featuring three main buildings for auctions, restaurants, and shops. Visitors can observe tuna auctions from a glass-walled deck and explore various seafood vendors. A shuttle bus also connects Toyosu to Tsukiji or Odaiba. It’s a modern, clean facility displaying Japan’s diverse and high-quality marine products. The market operates from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays, except on Sundays and holidays. Tuna auctions can be witnessed from 5:30 am to 6:30 am on the second floor of Building 7’s observation deck, with prior online registration required. Additionally, the Uogashi Yokocho on Building 6’s fourth floor hosts over 70 shops and restaurants serving fresh seafood dishes. To reach Toyosu Fish Market, head to Shijo-mae station on the Yurikamome line.

5. Ueno Ameyoko Market - Tokyo's Multicultural Hub

An ex-black market turned lively street market, Ueno Ameyoko is a vibrant stretch along the railway tracks between Ueno and Okachimachi stations. From clothing and accessories to spices and dried fruits, the market brims with variety. Delight your taste buds with street foods like yakitori, takoyaki, and ramen.

Open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, except on selected Wednesdays, the market hosts a diverse array of goods and flavors. It’s an eclectic mix of Japanese and international products, showcasing the multicultural essence of Tokyo. Access it from Ueno or Okachimachi stations on the JR Yamanote line.

Japan Ueno Ameyoko Market
Ueno Ameyoko Market at Night

6. Omicho Fish Market in Kanazawa

Omicho Fish Market, a bustling hub that’s been in operation since the 18th century, is hailed as “Kanazawa’s Kitchen.” Here, you’ll discover over 200 stalls vending an array of fresh fish, seafood, fruits, veggies, and flowers. Moreover, numerous eateries serve up delicious sushi and kaisendon. It’s the go-to place to savor Kanazawa’s seasonal flavors, located centrally near Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen Garden, open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, barring some holidays. You can access it conveniently from Kanazawa Station by bus or on foot and even join guided tours or cooking classes.

7. Hakodate Morning Market in Hakodate

Renowned as “Hakodate Asaichi” or “Hakodate Donburi Yokocho,” this market opens from 5 am to noon near Hakodate Station. It boasts about 250 stalls offering the freshest seafood and allows visitors to savor local delicacies like squid sashimi, sea urchin, and crab. Visitors can even partake in activities like squid fishing or preparing their own sea urchin. Located conveniently in front of Hakodate Station, it operates daily from 5:00 am to noon, except in bad weather or on days with no fish deliveries. Accessible by a short walk from Hakodate Station or via tram or bus to other city attractions.

Japan Hakodate Morning Market
Fresh hairy crabs in Hakodate Morning Market

8. Nijo Market in Sapporo

Nijo Market, established in the early 20th century and famously termed “Sapporo’s Kitchen,” is a haven for food lovers. With around 100 shops selling seafood, meat, veggies, dairy products, and snacks, visitors can relish the city’s specialties like kaisendon, sushi, and soup curry. Situated centrally near Odori Park and Tanukikoji Shopping Street, it opens daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, except on selected Sundays and holidays. Easy to reach from Sapporo Station by subway or on foot, visitors can also explore nearby attractions like Sapporo Clock Tower, Sapporo TV Tower, and Sapporo Beer Museum.

9. Otaru Sakaimachi Street in Otaru

Tsukiji Market was once the biggest fish market globally before relocating to Toyosu in 2018. Yet, Tsukiji remains vibrant with an outer market that sells fresh seafood, sushi, knives, and more. Nearby, you can explore the unique Indian-style architecture of Tsukiji Honganji Temple and the serene Hamarikyu Gardens, a traditional Japanese garden complete with a tranquil pond and teahouse. Popular among both locals and tourists, Tsukiji’s outer market boasts over 300 shops and eateries open from 5:00 am to 2:00 pm, excluding Sundays and select Wednesdays. It’s a seafood paradise offering tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp, eel, and oysters, alongside items like sushi knives, tea sets, pottery, and souvenirs. Access Tsukiji Market from Tsukiji or Tsukijishijo stations on the Oedo subway line.

Japan Otaru Sakaimachi Street
Otaru Sakaimachi Street

10. Kawagoe Ichibangai in Kawagoe

Preserving the Edo period’s ambiance, Kawagoe Ichibangai, referred to as “Koedo” or “Little Edo,” brims with traditional shops and stalls selling crafts, snacks, and souvenirs. Visitors can also explore the nearby Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, known for its matchmaking power, and the Kawagoe Festival Museum which exhibits floats and costumes used in the annual Kawagoe Festival. Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except on specific holidays and maintenance days, it’s reachable from Kawagoe Station by bus or on foot, with additional options for bike or rickshaw rentals to explore the area.

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