A Tasty Morning at Central Wholesale Mart
Morning comes early in Osaka, the kitchen of the world. Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Markets where fish and vegetables which have traveled here through the sky, across the sea, and over the land are bought and sold. It opened in 1931, as the largest wholesale market in the Orient. The area is about 8 times as large as that of Koshien baseball park, total area 320,000m2. One of the largest markets in Japan, it is filled with the energy of food merchants from early in the morning. The Market tour course is extremely popular with visitors who don't mind getting out of bed early to appreciate the abundant ingredients and the opportunity to buy a fresh breakfast in the markets.
|Direct via taxi / JR Noda Station (earliest train leaves at 5:00)|
|1.||15 min walk from JR Noda Station||Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Markets Tuna refrigerated seller|
|2.||A short walk||Stroll in the fish wholesale market|
|3.||A short walk|
|4.||A short walk|
|5.||A short walk|
1. Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Markets Tuna refrigerated seller
Early in the morning when no train or bus is yet running, go through the still sleeping quiet town to arrive at the market already filled with energy. First head straight to the fish market to see the "refrigerated tuna seller". The huge selling place, the size of a gymnasium, is packed with fresh tuna and frozen tuna. They are hefty, weighing 100 - 300 kg coming from the Indian Ocean, Taiwan, Australia, Spain, South Africa, all over the world. At 4:15 a.m., the auction starts with the ringing of the bell. The trained deep voice of the auctioneer resonates in the place without intervals. Brokers with sharp eyes quickly make signs with fingers, and make a successful bid for the tuna they want. In only 30 minutes, hundreds of tuna are all sold out. Their deftness can win applause. Various fish such as blowfish and snappers, come next to this refrigerated seller, but I wonder where the tuna went. It was put in a small wooden cart. Where will it go?
2. Stroll in the fish wholesale market
Following the tuna, go around the selling space. There are about 180 shops to handle fresh fish, and about 80 shops to handle dried and other processed marine products. Auctioned tuna go to those shops, and quickly dissected. Frozen tuna is cut by a machine, and fresh ones are cut without hesitation using a knife as long as 50 - 60cm. The fine cutting resembles an artists' performance. Sliced red tuna meat looks beautiful in the light. By then, you will notice other shop fronts are packed with various kinds of fish, octopus, shrimps, shellfish, etc.
3. Sushi restaurant Endo
There are numerous restaurants to serve sushi, eels, grilled chicken, set meals, etc, for the workers after their job is done. It is nice that tourists can use them, too (but most of the restaurants are closed by noon. Don't forget to check their business hours).
"Endo" on the side of the front parking lot of the market was established in 1907. Back then, it was in the fish market opened in the current Nishi-ku Kyomachibori. Their famous "Tsukami zushi" is fish on lightly shaped slightly warm rice. The first master thought of the idea to serve delicious sushi quickly for busy merchants. The harmony of rice crumbling in the mouth and fresh fish is delicious. If you order "Chef's choice", you get a plate of tuna and 5 assorted sushi for \1,050. Fish variety is altered besides tuna from the second plate. 5-6 can sit at the counter, and there are 5 tables in all, but the restaurant is always crowded.
4. Stroll in the vegetable wholesale market
Having eaten, go back to the enthusiasm of the market. The vegetable selling place on the third floor with heaps of cardboard boxes gives you an impression that they are finishing their job without a word, compared with the bustling fish seller. Go on further, an auction of asparagus is starting. While the auctioneer says something like numbers on a low pedestal, business is completed. Perfect timing here, too. By the way, Chinese cabbages, cabbages, green onions, carrots, looking at the abundant vegetables gives us mixed feelings that we are putting so much food in our stomach.
5. Stroll in the fruit market
After the vegetable seller, 5-6 minutes walk through the management building looking at the stores of dry food takes us to the fruit seller. The auction starts around 5:50 here. Apples, oranges, melons, etc, appear on a belt-conveyor. 4-5 auctioneers shout on the pedestal for business. Auction of fresh produce uses "hand signals", extending and making circles with fingers. So observe carefully. Wholesale buyers lined up in the opposite seats from the auctioneers make successful bids for the already tasted target fruit and take it to their shops. The shops inside the market have a rich variety of fruit; strawberries with excellent color and shine, durians and mangoes from southeast Asia, bananas from Taiwan, etc, depending on the season. Some shops sell by the box on negotiation, freshness is guaranteed. The price of fruit is about half that of the store price. It is nice to use them for gifts, also nice to walk and eat them. While enveloped in the energy of market to maintain the food of Osaka, the usual morning arrives. A few hours of early rising enables you to have a good experience for your eyes, stomach, and feelings. Leave the market, go south across Funatsubashi for about 10 minutes. Cool down and take a leisurely stroll in the greenery-filled Utsubo Park, or have morning coffee at the Rihga Royal Hotel.