Uonotana Fish Market - heard of it? Perhaps not.
However, you may have heard of the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Well, outside the capital city there are local fish markets scattered all over Japan. They may be lesser-known, but most are well worth visiting.
And there's a big benefit if you do - you won't see any foreign tourists. Certainly, you'd be hard pushed to find any in Uonotana Fish Market in Akashi.
Uonotana Fish Market: Seafood Heaven In Akashi
by Rob Dyer
A small port on the Seto Inland Sea
Akashi is a small port city (although it feels more like a town) in Hyogo Prefecture on Honshu, between Kobe and on the way down the Seto Inland Sea coastline towards Himeji.
VIDEO: A Walk Around Uonotana Fish Market
Five minutes walk from JR or Sanyo Akashi train stations, Uonotana Fish Market has an array of fish and seafood stalls.
For more than 400 years the locals have been fishing off the Akashi Straights and selling their wares in a local fish market.
The 'Fish Shelf'
Uonotana (literally 'fish shelf') Fish Market is a riot of colour - both from the advertising banners hanging from the ceilings, and from the vast array of fish and seafoods on the stalls below.
If you're in this region and its fresh seafood you're after, or you just want soak up the sights and sounds of an authentic Japanese fish market, this is where you'll find it.
Unlike its famous, and larger, Tokyo counterpart Tsukiji Fish Market, you'll hardly ever see a foreign tourist here.
Daily trading starts at 3:30am
The market supplies restaurants in Kyoto and Kobe with fresh fish daily with wholesale trading at the market starting as early as 3:30am on weekdays.
As the catch is fresh daily, you can expect to see the fish, octopus, crabs and other shellfish for sale still alive.
Sample sashimi straight from the stalls
There's an extensive selection of sea food available to buy, and (also like Tsukiji), there are plenty of places locally where you can sample sashimi straight from the market stalls.
Prices are clearly displayed on everything and although they don't get many non-Japanese tourists here, with a bit of very basic Japanese, some pointing and a few smiles you can bag yourself some of the finest seafood in Japan.
A suggested day itinerary
As mentioned above, Akashi can be found between Osaka or Kobe and Himeji. All three of these cities are worth visiting and are close enough by rail or car that you could include any one of them and a trip to Uonotana Fish Market in the same day.
Aside from Uonotana itself, Akashi is also worth taking a closer look at.
Here's a few suggestions for places in and around Akashi that I would include in a day itinerary:
Soaking up the smells
Alternatively, just wander around Uonotana Fish Market and soak up the smells, the noise, the cry of the market stall vendors. It's a feast for the nose, eyes and ears as well as the stomach.
Have you been to a fish market in Japan? What did you think of it? Post a comment below - I'd love to hear about your experiences.
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About the Author
A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s 6,800 islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of TheRealJapan.com.
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How to Get Here
Address: Akashi-shi Honcho 1 - chome 1-16, Akashi
Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Sanyo Main Line Akashi Station
Open: 08:00 - 18:00
Closed: No regular holiday
Tel: +81 078 911 9666
Website: http://www.uonotana.or.jp/ (google translated from Japanese)
· Take west line 2 towards JR Akashi Station toward Sanyo Akashi Station
· Hanshin Expressway → 2nd Shinmei Okuratani IC descend and head toward JR Akashi Station, Sanyo Akashi Station.
· Take east to Line 2 toward JR Akashi Station, Sanyo Akashi Station
· Exit the 2nd Shinmei Ichigaya IC to JR Akashi Station toward Sanyo Akashi Station
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In Akashi, there is also the ferry (Awaji Jenova line) to go on the Awaji Island, very close of the Naruto themed park !
Thanks for sharing the tip Aurore. I wasn’t aware of that ferry.
What a fun time Rob. When Kelli and I get over to Asia again we will definitely keep Japan on our mind because there is so much culture there. I can just feel the place through your pictures and words. Japan genuinely is unlike any other country in the world and this fish market really drills that point home. Such an authentic feel to the place. Fabulous post.
Thanks Ryan – you make a good point about the authenticity of places like this in Japan.
That’s a big part of what drives The Real Japan: once you’re away from the obvious tourist spots there are countless places like this that, if you want to feel like a local and not a tourist, when you immerse yourself in them you experience something entirely different to 90% of other travellers.
Thanks for the knowledgeable article. I appreciate your suggestions and tips which you have mention.Keep writing informative articles.
Thank you for taking the time to read the article.
I love the history of Billinsgate market, so am honoured you have read and valued the article and left a comment.
If you’re planning to visit Japan and want tips on great fish markets to visit along the way get in touch!