Katsuura Morning Market: Farm-to-table Goodness and Old-fashioned Charm
Katsuura, on the eastern side of Chiba Prefecture’s Boso Peninsula, is a major fishing town that preserves the warm vibe of the Showa era (1926-1989) that so many Japanese look back on with great fondness. Though just a 90-minute or so train ride from Tokyo, in atmosphere it is a world away. It is also home to Katsuura Morning Market, one of Japan’s three largest such markets. Open daily (other than Wednesdays) throughout the year, this is a magnet for both tourists and more health-conscious foodies alike, drawing around 200,000 visitors annually with its mix of farm-to-table goodness and old-fashioned charm.
Katsuura Asaichi, as it is known in Japanese, dates back over 400 years to the Momoyama period (1573-1600). In the present day it hosts stalls from around 80 merchants, offering a seasonal variety of marine produce and home-grown fruit and vegetables, along with traditional pickles, Japanese sweets, and street food. Folk craft goods, handmade with love using materials such as bamboo, can also be found. The old-school shops lining the surrounding streets are also worth a look.
With Katsuura boasting no less than nine active fishing ports and bringing in the prefecture’s second largest annual catch, it is no surprise that fish and seafood make a strong showing at the market. While the town’s fish market handles seriously weighty tuna and the like for commercial buyers, the morning market offers more manageably-sized specimens, such as sardines and yellowtail, caught in the same nearby Pacific waters. Visitors not planning on doing any cooking during their vacation need not go without: many varieties of dried fish are also sold, along with dried squid and octopus.
Those with a sweet tooth will delight in the Japanese sweets on sale. Mochi (a glutinous rice cake that is also vegan-friendly) forms the basis of many of these. All sorts of mochi can be sampled here, including grilled varieties and warabi mochi. The latter uses bracken starch in place of rice despite its name, and is eaten coated in kinako, a sweet flour made from toasted soybeans. Warabi mochi goes down well with a spiced coffee from the bicycle-powered mobile stall that puts in a frequent appearance.
Also offered for on-the-move snacking are street foods such as kushiyaki (meats, seafoods and vegetables grilled on skewers) and takoyaki (octopus batter-fried in small balls).
Many of the foods sold here can be sampled, in bite-sized portions, for free. Anyone who has ventured inside a larger Japanese supermarket will have encountered the folks who keenly approach and encourage you to sample their wares: many Katsuura Morning Market vendors do the same, only with even greater enthusiasm and brandishing fresher food.
It is freshness of course, along with atmosphere, that is the market’s big attraction. The ‘farm-to-table’ boom sees young Tokyoites flock to farmers’ markets in the heart of the city, but down here they have been doing ‘farm-to-table’ for centuries. The wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruit piled up here, grown on neighboring farms, includes daikon radish, cucumbers, onions, carrots, yams, kaki (Japanese persimmon), and many more. Preserved foods meanwhile include shiokara (fermented and salted intestines) and pickles in a whole spectrum of colors, with flowers and seeds also often on sale.
Katsuura Morning Market is around ten minutes’ walk from JR Katsuura Station, and is held on one of two different streets according to the time of month, from 6am till around 11am daily other than Wednesdays. From the 1st to the 15th of each month it is on Shimohoncho Asaichi St., moving to Nakahoncho Asaichi St. from the 16th through to the month’s end. Follow directions to Tomisaki Shrine, famous for its long and steep stone steps, and you will find it.
- Facility Name
- Chiba Pref. Katsurashi Tona
- Information Sources:
- NAVITIME JAPAN