Kochi City’s Historic Sunday Market – Providing Visitors with Fresh Produce for Over 300 Years
August 18, 2016
With the growing interest in local food and concern for the environment, farmer's markets are becoming more and more common, even in large cities. Kochi City's Sunday Market is far from new – it began in 1690, making it the oldest continuously-operating market in Japan – but it has become increasingly popular amongst local residents and tourists alike.
Kochi's Sunday Market near Otemae High School
Starting at Kochi Castle's Otemon Gate and stretching for one kilometre down tree-lined Otetsuji Avenue, the Sunday market features stores and stalls selling all manner of goods – from local produce like eggplant, yuzu, and ginger ale, to handicrafts and expert knife-care services. The bright white clock tower atop Otemae High School, featured in the Studio Ghibli film Ocean Waves (海が聞こえる), overlooks the market.
Variety of Vegetables (eggplant, okra, squash)
Both the beauty and the bounty of Kochi’s rich nature are evident in the rainbow of fruits and vegetables displayed at the Sunday Market. A prefecture with a strong agricultural tradition and industry, Kochi is particularly known for its delicious, deep purple eggplant and sweet ‘fruit’ tomatoes.
Some Unusual and Familiar Fruits (konatsu, peach, grapes, mikan and sweet tomatoes)
Three unique citrus fruits – yuzu, buntan, and konatsu – are widely cultivated in Kochi Prefecture and can often be found at the market depending on the season. In addition to the fresh fruits themselves, products made using these fruits, such as drinkable jelly, ponzu sauce, juice, and jam, are sold as well.
Rich Amber Honey from Haruno Town
Imokenpi, candied sweet potato, is another Kochi specialty that you’re likely to find at the market. Crunchy and sweet, imokenpi makes a great snack and is a common omiyage (souvenir) that Japanese and foreign tourists purchase.
Imokenpi (candied sweet potato)
Peckish visitors can buy fresh yuzu juice, a variety of flavors of kakigori (shaved ice) and ice cream, or yakitori (roasted meat skewers) to enjoy while browsing the market. Another refreshing beverage is sweet and spicy ginger ale made from Tosa ginger. You can buy a cup at the market or get a few bottles to take home.
Fresh, Cold Ginger Ale For Sale
Tosayama Ginger Ale
There are also some vendors with small handicrafts and cute souvenirs. Permanent stores selling high quality kitchen knives also open stalls in front of their storefronts on Sundays. Kochi has been producing blades for cooking and for industries like forestry since the 1590s and is known for high-quality work.
Chopsticks, Sandals, and Other Goods.
The Sunday Market is centrally located – only a ten minute walk or two tram stops away from Kochi Station – and close to other landmarks like Kochi Castle, Hirome Market, and the shopping arcade Obiyamachi. Perusing the vendors’ diverse wares and sampling local treats is an excellent way to spend a lazy Sunday morning before venturing on to explore Kochi's other points of interest.
Location: Otetsuji, Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture 780-0842
From Kochi Station take the tram to Hasuikemachi Dori.
Hours: Sunday 5am-6pm (April-September), 5:30am-5pm (October-March)
Currently working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Kochi City, Sarah is a Canadian expat who spends her free time exploring Kochi Prefecture and trying to devise a better way to keep the tanukis out of her garden. She enjoys going to local festivals and eating too much mochi.