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Photo By: PIXTA/ 鮎
Largest City

Karato Fish Market

For the freshest catches off the Kanmon Strait, browse the stalls at Karato Fish Market.

By Elizabeth Sok

Located in Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Shimonoseki City, Karato Fish Market attracts professional chefs, the average cook and people of all ages looking for the freshest catches of the day. The fish market is situated along the shores of the Kanmon Strait, a narrow body of water that separates Honshu from Kyushu and has been a historically significant passage for transportation, commerce and war. Shimonoseki lies on the Honshu side and faces Kitakyushu City, both of which were essential sites in Japan’s modernization at the turn of the 20th century.

For Karato Fish Market, the Kanmon Strait is an invaluable source of fish that includes the region’s famous fugu (blowfish) and octopus as well as marine life transiting from the Sea of Japan and the Inland Sea. Outside the market along the harbor, visitors can also enjoy the beautiful views of the strait. In the middle of August, the area hosts an annual fireworks festival that lights the night sky with upwards of 13,000 fireworks.

Karato Fish Market

Karato Fish Market

Photo by: PIXTA/ PIXSTAR A great way to start your day.

Opened in 1909, Karato Fish Market initially operated as a local street market before developing into one that supplies the rest of Japan with its local catches. This multi-story building offers a variety of attractions for visitors, such as the market part with dozens of sellers and the restaurants on the upper floor which offer up many of the fish you can browse below. In the market, you can window shop and marvel at the seemingly endless varieties of fish for sale.

While you’ll see spiny lobster at one, maybe you’ll find ara (saw-edged perch) at another. Shoppers can talk directly to the sellers who may have also caught the fish on sale. Although Japanese speaking skills help, the shops have a reputation for being quite friendly, even to tourists. The restaurants upstairs offer fish in both cooked and raw forms. Why not make lunch for yourself filled with a myriad of fish and head outside to enjoy the breeze off the Kanmon Strait?

Iki Iki Bakangai

Karato Fish Market

Photo by: PIXTA/ 鮎 Catch Iki Iki Bangai on weekends and holidays!

One of the highlights of the market is Iki Iki Bakangai, an event held on weekends and national holidays. Sellers will bring out their best catches and present them as sashimi and sushi for all to enjoy. It’s by far the most popular event for its high energy and delicious menu at fantastic prices.

Things To Know


The market is open from 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 8 a.m. on Sunday. Admission is free 

How To Get There


By bus

From JR Shimonoseki station, take the Sanden Kotsu bus and get off at Karato. The market will be a short walk away.

By car

From the Chugoku Expressway, take the Shimonoseki IC. Continue for about 15 minutes to the market.

Where To Stay

Shimonoseki Grand Hotel
  • 31-2 Nabecho, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0006 Japan
  • ¥10,500 - ¥12,000
  • 4.4/5 (1,205 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
Plaza Hotel Shimonoseki
  • 11-10 Hananocho, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0014 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥14,300
  • 4.08/5 (1,187 reviews)
  • 1.1 km
Dormy Inn Premium Shimonoseki
  • 3-40 Hosoeshimmachi, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0017 Japan
  • ¥8,100 - ¥11,070
  • 4.28/5 (2,429 reviews)
  • 1.9 km
Premier Hotel Mojiko
  • 9-11 Kabushikikaishiya Mojikohoteru, Kitakyushu-shi Moji-ku, Fukuoka, 801-8503 Japan
  • ¥10,800 - ¥63,540
  • 4.29/5 (3,086 reviews)
  • 1.9 km
Hotel Route-Inn Mojiko
  • 2-11-2 Nishikaigan, Kitakyushu-shi Moji-ku, Fukuoka, 801-0841 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥24,100
  • 4.12/5 (1,440 reviews)
  • 2.0 km

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