Kochi Sunday Market
Fewer tourists, more sashimi and don't forget the citrus!
Sip on yuzu or ginger juice, peruse Japanese knives, eat fresh sushi and get your hands on citrus fruits the size of your head at Kochi City’s Sunday Market. Showcasing the best local food, drink, artistry and produce from Kochi Prefecture, the 1.3-kilometer-long market has remained a weekly tradition for over 300 years and is a phenomenal way to dig into Kochi’s unique culture and natural goodies.
The rural prefecture of Kochi lies on the smallest and most rustic island of Japan called Shikoku. Kochi-jin (the native people there) have their own distinct laid-back style that’s reflected in the smiles and openness from the farmers, artists, entrepreneurs and even inoshishi (Japanese boar) hunters who gather each Sunday offering up Kochi’s regional delicacies.
The Kochi Sunday Market stretches all the way to the striking Kochi Castle, another must-see spot in the city, but there is so much to look at (and let’s be honest, eat!) before you get there. It takes a little over an hour to meander through the huge range of products at the more than 430 stalls. Like any good farmers’ market, you’ll find fresh seasonal fruits and veggies such as the buntan, a Japanese citrus fruit that can be twice the size of a grapefruit but tastes slightly sweeter. Definitely worth a try.
Another local citrus fruit at the market that is widely used in Japanese cooking is the lemon-like yuzu. Buy it raw, sip on it in juice form or take home infused condiments like yuzu-kosho (yuzu pepper) as souvenirs. You’ll also find other popular produce Kochi is known for such as sweet tomatoes and all types of ginger. Japanese favorites like udon noodles or more local dishes like inakazushi (all veggie sushi) are also up for grabs.
Sample Kochi’s famous dish, katsuo tataki, which is lightly seared skipjack tuna fish.
Looking for some bona fide non-touristy souvenirs? Browse hundreds of Japanese high-quality knives, one-of-a-kind jewelry and other crafts from local artists or pick up some artisan tea made from Kochi herbs and plants. Don’t forget to take back some rare tanuki (raccoon dog) oil, which is Kochi’s answer to the popular product “tiger balm.”
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, drop into the nearby Hirome Market, which more than satisfies the craving for beer, sake and extremely fresh sushi day or night. A bustling fish market with colorful food stalls and restaurants, you watch in awe as your meal gets flame-kissed in front of your eyes. Of course, this is Kochi’s famous dish, katsuo tataki, which is lightly seared skipjack tuna which is hand-roasted over straw to keep with tradition and for a flavorful smoky taste.
You can try even more seafood as sashimi lines the fish market area with all types of maguro (tuna), uni (sea urchin) and even kujira (whale). As it is totally OK to share tables with other people, this is your chance to make memories while chatting up the locals.
Japan’s more famous markets in Tokyo and Kyoto are packed with tourists, yet the less-crowded Kochi Sunday Market remains a vital snapshot of what life is like for Japanese locals who are living off the land. After picking up on these resilient Kochi vibes, you’ll leave refreshed for your next adventure.
This article was sponsored by the Kochi Prefectural Government.