Osaka Central Fish Market is just one part of the Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Market complex which also comprises vegetable and fruit markets. Because so much of the Osaka’s food supply passes through this market, it is considered the heart of this famous gourmet city.
Officially this is not a public tourist attraction but a working market, so if you do visit, please be careful not to get in anyone’s way. Most of the action here takes place in the very early hours of the morning with a dramatic 30 minute tuna auction taking place from 4.15 am. After that the giant tuna are dragged away to the market’s many shops and cut up in preparation for retail sales. You can wander through the shops and see colorful displays of every kind of seafood imaginable and also witness the skillful dexterity of the market workers as they cut up that tuna.
Official group tours of the market are given from 8.45 and include the fruit auction, a tour of the fish and vegetable markets and explanations of the sales process and the market’s history. The tours take two hours and are given in Japanese, so you will need a Japanese speaking guide to go with you and you will also need a Japanese speaker to book it. Usually the tours are given to groups of five or more people, but smaller groups are also possible. To book the tour call 06-6469-7850 between 9.00 and 17.00 on weekdays or between 9.00 and 14.00 on Saturdays.
Endo Sushi & Other Restaurants
Around the market are several restaurants where you can eat the freshest seafood in the city. Endo Sushi is the market’s most famous restaurant, mainly because of its long history. Back in 1907, the original owner of Endo Sushi created a new style of sushi he called tsukami-zushi, and this is still the style served at Endo Sushi today.
Unlike ordinary nigiri-zushi the, the Endo Sushi style of sushi uses warm rice that is not pressed together so firmly. When the wholesale market was opened here in 1931, Endo Sushi moved here too, and it has been here ever since. You can find their shop on the edge of the car park on the east side of the fish market. They have English menus and you basically get to choose between 4 set plates, each with five different kinds of sushi on it.
There is almost always a long line of people waiting to get into this restaurant. However, not everyone agrees that Endo Sushi is worth the wait. Some people love the tsukami-zushi style, and other people find it disappointing. If the line is really long, feel free to try a different restaurant nearby. You won’t have to wait and they will be glad of your business.
Endo Sushi is open from 5.00 am till 14.00 and closed on Sundays and holidays. Here is a map of its location.
Osaka Central Fish Market is a 10 minute walk from Noda Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line. there is a sign in the station that points the way to the market.
However, the tuna auction starts at 4.15 am when no trains or buses are running. If you want to see the auction you will have to take a taxi to the market. Because of the early hour it is a good idea to book your taxi in advance. You can also skip the auction and go a little later, but by 8.00 am most of the fish will be sold, the shops will be pulling down their shutters and there will be nothing much to see but buckets of tuna heads.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.