Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Katsuura Morning Market

"Find the shortest, simplest way 
between the earth, the hands, and the mouth"
Lanza Del Vasto


The Katsuura fishing port.

Katsuura is located on the east coast of southern Chiba Prefecture in the approximate center of the Bōsō Peninsula. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east. It is a short hop from Tokyo but felt a million miles away. The place was rustic: fishermen and farmers plying their trades, country life chugging along at its timeless pace.

Historically, this city is known as a fishing port, and currently has the second largest catch in Chiba Prefecture after Chōshi City. There are nine active fishing ports in Katsuura, with the Port of Katsuura being the largest. The area around the Katsuura Fishing Port features one of the top three largest morning markets in Japan. The history of the market dates back since the 1570s and still going strong today. More than 400 years ago, the market was used as a way of connecting the town and its citizens through trade during the Tensho era.


Common sight of daily catches being unloaded at the port. The catch of katsuo bonito in 1990 here still remain as the largest ever recorded in Japan.


Unloading huge tunas. This surely make sumptuous sashimi and sushi. 


Freshly caught gigantic tuna. The numbers indicate their weight.


Buyers in their windbreaker over the whites, pants tucked into rubber boots, studying the fish carefully and choosing the best fish for themselves.


Stopped this uncle and requested to take a photo with him, which he obliged happily lol!


I wish I could bring one of them back home hahaha!

The morning market snakes along a narrow old lane below a Shinto shrine. Being well known, the market sees on average about 200,000 visitors a year. There are approximately 80 venders selling diverse local products, such as seasonal vegetables, fresh fish, dried fish, seeds and seedlings, freshly prepared sea foods and other goods. Since all products are produced locally, items found at the market vary highly depending on the season.

Although the market is centred around a single location, the road on which the market is held changes once a month. For the first half of the month you can find the market on the West side of the central shopping district, and for the second half of the month it is on the East side of the shopping district. To keep from getting lost, if you walk from Katsura station, head straight to Tomisaki Shrine, you are sure to bump into it along the way.


We moved on to the morning market.


Stalls at both sides of the street, which offers a huge varieties of local products.


From fresh sardines.


To dry squids and fishes.


And fresh vegetables such as daikon, taro, Tokyo negi, cucumbers, carrots, ginger, yams and turnips they grew themselves from their farms.


It is common to see sellers plying you with tastes of their grilled sardines, nori preserves, shiokara, purple, peach and charcoal-coloured mochi, and eggplant pickles.


Japanese pears and persimmons. Bet they must be super sweet and juicy.


Hand-made art crafts


Stall selling delicious snacks to fill the stomach.

The exciting thing about morning markets is having a chance to meet and talk with the locals. All merchants in morning markets are locally-based people, so it is a great opportunity to talk to them and gather information. Surrounded by the fresh morning air, conversation really takes off. From locally grown vegetables to hand-made folk crafts, being able to buy items directly from the producer or creator is a lot of fun.

Besides popular for its morning market, Katsuura is also well known as a town that celebrates Hinamatsuri with an impressive display of traditional Japanese dolls that number in the thousands. Hinamatsuri is an observance in Japan for families with girls. Traditional dolls are displayed in the home in the wish that the girls in the family will be healthy and successful. Katsuura's Hinamatsuri event is perhaps the largest public display of the dolls.


This is the famous 60-step staircase at Tomisaki Shrine that is the festival's centerpiece and main attraction. About 1,200 hina dolls are sitting on these steps. This doll display is assembled every morning at 7 am and put away every evening during the festival. It takes around 15 people about an hour to set up the dolls every morning during the festival.


The approach comes alive when beautifully decorated with thousands of Hinamatsuri dolls during the Katsuura Big Hinamatsuri festival in February every year.


Took the chance to pick a omikuji. The omikuji at this shrine is special because you can only read them when the paper makes contact with water (photo credit: Tomohiro Kurihara).


In full concentration, reading my fortune for the upcoming year lol! This was back in November 2014 (phot credit: Ayako Uchiyama).



Katsuura Morning Market (勝浦朝市)
Address: Shimo-honmachi-dori (1st to 15th every month), Naka-honmachi-dori (16th to month-end), Katsuura City, Chiba Prefecture, 299-5200 Japan (千葉県勝浦市仲本町通り, 下本町通り)
Opening Hours: 06:00 - 11:00 (opening hours may change due to the weather)
Every Wednesday & January 1
Website: http://www.katsuura-sanpo.com/facilities/see-play/post-417/ (Japanese only)
Tel: 04-7073-6641 (勝浦市観光商工課 観光商工係)   Fax: 04-7073-8788
Parking: Available (06:30 to 22:00)
Access: Train: From JR Katsuura station (JR勝浦駅), walk for approximately 10 minutes.

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