On our recent trip to Hokkaido, I said to my friends that I wanted to eat so much sashimi until I would vomit. Armed with the Puking Objective in mind, we went to all the fish markets in Hokkaido we could find, but still, there was not enough raw seafood in the world that could induce my nausea. Japanese food is awesome.
People visit fish markets in the morning for a donburi (rice bowl) of raw sashimi. But if you cannot stomach raw food in the morning, there are grilled and tempura items. But really, you don’t have to visit the markets so early: 10am or even early afternoon is fine.
I am not going to recommend individual stalls because they are more or less the same. Use your instincts, check the prices which are usually displayed on a big signboard outside the shop, and enter the crowded shop.
Just to be clear: Hakodate, Otaru, and Sapporo are three separate cities, far away from one another. But they should be in anyone’s itinerary when travelling around Hokkaido.
HAKODATE Morning Market (Hakodate Asaichi 函館朝市)
9-19 Wakamatsu-cho, Hakodate
tel: +81 120-858-313
5am – 3pm
Hakodate Morning Market itself has 250 stores, but there are also 2 markets beside it (Donburi Yokocho Market and Ekini Market), and if you include those two markets, there are 450 stores. Don’t worry it’s not very big; they make up (maybe) 3 to 4 blocks. You can easily walk through them within 15 to 20 minutes.
The stalls sell seafood, vegetables, fruits, souvenirs, and sweets.
For people who need a cuppa in the morning, I want to specially recommend Hakodate Jujiya Coffee 函館十字屋咖啡店 (Japan, 〒040-0063 Hokkaido, Hakodate, Wakamatsucho, 9−19, 番号; +81 138-22-1777; 7am-2pm, closed Wed). It’s a kiosk within Ekini Market with three or four seats. They home-roast their handdrip coffee. The independent kiosk was established in 昭和7年 (1932), being a hipster for 86 years! Their coffee here is ¥350, and you may add a scoop of the famous Hokkaido ice cream (additional ¥250).
I love the coffee very much! Starbucks and other big coffee chains tend to over-roast their beans to make sure they have a “standardised” bitter taste. So most people are used to coffee being bitter. That’s why Chiobu didn’t like Jujiya Coffee; “no coffee taste,” she complained. But I love it! Jujiya doesn’t overroast the beans, so there is no bitterness, making it well-balanced with a berry sweetness.
Besides coffee, you should definitely get the rock melon also known as cantaloupe here. It is the cheapest among all the markets we have been. And rock melon is one of the must-eats in Hokkaido.
The third item you have to eat is, of course, the kaisendon (海鮮丼) or sashimi on rice. Prices usually range from ¥1200-¥2000 depending on the ingredients you order.
Because we stayed a 5-minute walk from the fish market, we visited it on two consecutive days, and tried two different stalls which bookmark the ends of the street. The stalls are かにの北遊 (22-2 Otemachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0064, Japan; +81 120-278-941; 6am-2pm) and マルヤマ商店 (22-2 Ōtemachi, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaidō 040-0064, Japan; +81 138-27-3110; 5am-3pm). The latter one is better although the former was crowded.
One last activity: you can also try Ika (squid) fishing at the market.
How to get there: Exit JR Hakodate Station. On your right, you’ll see Four Points by Sheraton. The market is just behind the building.
OTARU Sankaku Market
3-10-16 Inaho, Otaru 047-0032, Hokkaido
Tel: +81 134-23-2446
We didn’t visit the Otaru Market because we found a hotel buffet breakfast offering freeflow of sashimi. But more about that buffet in another entry. Let’s talk about Otaru.
There are five markets in Otaru; they are smaller in scale than elsewhere so you may not want to visit all five. But for the sake of completion, these are the markets:
–Rinyuu Asaichi Morning Market (10-15, 3 chome, Kaiuchi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido; 4am-2pm; closed Sun)
-Temiya Market (9-3, Nishikichou, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido; 10am-7.30pm; closed Sun)
–Shinnantaru Market (8-11, Chikou, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido; 10am-7pm; closed Wed)
–Nantaru Market (12-1, Shintomi-chou, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido; 9am-7pm; closed Sun)
The reason I recommended Sankaku Market above the other four is its convenient and central location. It is just beside the Otaru JR Station. From what I read, it’s a small alley with a small entrance. Watch for the red sign that says 三角市場. This market is best for eating crabs. Eat your snow crabs, king crabs, hairy crabs here.
SAPPORO Nijo Fish Market 二条市場
1 Minami 3 Jo Higashi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0053, Hokkaido
tel: +81 11-281-2222
We went to two fish markets in Sapporo and Nijo Fish Market is one of them. It’s the more convenient of the two markets, and thus it attracts more tourists. Nijo is established in the early Meiji Period, making it more than 100 years old. It’s rather small, only the space of a block.
It was just okay experience for us. We prefer the Hakodate market. There is really nothing to buy here, but you can still eat the kaisendon.
How to get there: It’s a 10-minute walk from Odori Station.
SAPPORO Central Wholesale Market Curb Market
Kita 11-jo Nishi 21-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Curb Market, the second fish market we went in Sapporo, is a little further than Nijo Fish Market and not as convenient. But Curb Market is beside the biggest wholesale market in Hokkaido; so restaurants’ owners bid at the wholesale market and bring the ingredient immediately back to serve customers. Besides seafood, it sells vegetables and fruits. We bought a bunch of Kyoho grapes here for ¥900.
But as for the seafood, we were taken aback by the pricing of this market. The food here is definitely 10-20% more expensive than other markets. This market is good for crabs.
There is also a bathhouse called Sakaeyu at the Curb Market that opens at 1pm.
How to get there: 15-minute walk from Soen Station on the JR Hakodate Main Line OR
12-minute walk from Nijuyonken Station on the Subway Tozai Line
You may be interested in…
–Sushi Dai VS Sushi Daiwa at Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo: Which Is Better?
–Michelin Bib Gourmand Ramen in Hokkaido: Ippontei 一本亭 at Lake Toya and Ramen Shingetsu ラーメン 信月 at Sapporo
–Otaru Rakuten らく天: Fantastic Izakaya with a Michelin Bib Gourmand
–What to Eat at Niseko Hokkaido
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.