The Fish Market, The Biggest Fish Market by the Sea of Japan
Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture nests right on the west coast, taking pride in its incredibly fresh and delicious seafood. Nihon-Kai Sakana Machi, which translates to “Sea of Japan’s Fish City,” has rows of vendors after vendors, all selling different types of ingredients from the sea greens to fresh seafood. The biggest fish market by the Sea of Japan, Sakana Machi has been bringing in daily fresh seafood from Tsuruga Port since 1994. At this Hokuriku stop, I experienced a fish market rich in culture and its offerings; even the human interactions found here were different from what I’ve experienced in Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market. The market itself, with its calm-yet-chaotic atmosphere, is like a maze inside with clusters of fishermen and associates all yelling “irashai, irashai,” (“welcome, welcome!“) to lure customers and to sell their day’s catch at surprisingly cheap prices.
Crabs, Oysters, it is like a Costco for Seafood!
And I’m not joking when I say cheap prices: I stared at a mountain of crab for a little too long (with drool surely dripping) and the lady at this particular vendor offered me six crab legs, a basket of sweet shrimp, another basket of larger shrimp, and two mountains of small white-meat fish all for ¥5,500 total. This even included the next day shipping to Tokyo, so I wouldn’t have to lug it all on my own, as I don’t think other Shinkansen passengers would’ve appreciated it. Grazing around further, you notice that there are many eateries, too, with seafood bowls using the freshest ingredients right in front of your eyes. But you don’t even need to be seated to try some of the food here. Many vendors have free samples from all different kinds of squid to seaweed, it’s like a Costco for seafood! If you’re a lover of fresh oysters like myself, go straight for the oyster vendors who will crack one open for you, and offer you different condiments as you slurp down the oyster. These are usually between ¥600 and ¥800.
Try Seafood Bowls in This Fish Market!
Speaking of seafood bowls, I couldn’t leave without trying one. I ordered the crab and salmon bowl which did not disappoint whatsoever. At a little over ¥1000, it was well worth the price for the fresh meal I experienced. Not all restaurants inside are filled with seafood bowls. There are also sushi, curry, fried dishes, and other Japanese food to satisfy everyone’s appetites. It also wouldn’t be a true Japanese stop without some sweets! The outside hall is lined with soft serve ice cream stands for the dessert cravings. The map below shows all the dining spots in the market, but are not limited to just those options. Some are very casual and fast-paced, while other places are meant for larger groups and a formal atmosphere.
Sakana Machi has the hospitality true to Kansai and the food to match its positive stereotypes. So if you ever find yourself in the Hokuriku area, why not stop by here? If you’re wanting the explore the entire region at an incredible discount, don’t forget to check out the Hokuriku Arch Pass, too!
Public Transportation Access
The closest train station is Tsuruga Station, where there is a community bus Nakago Saki Line to the market (25 minutes).
Free ride all day: Adult ¥500, child (elementary) ¥250
One ride: Adult ¥200, child ¥100
From Market (above – departure) to Station (below – arrival):
*The times marked in red do not operate on weekends, national holidays, and 12/30 – 1/3
Nihon-Kai Sakana Machi is also a bus stop on the Tsuruga Gurutto Pass, which includes many highlighted sightseeing spots in the area. Information only available in Japanese.
〒914-0125 Fukui Prefecture, Tsuruga, Wakabacho, 1−1531
8:30am - 6:00pm