No seafood lover will want to miss out on Shimonoseki’s Karato Market, one of the liveliest and most visitor-friendly of Japan’s wonderful fish markets. Affectionately nicknamed “Shimonoseki’s kitchen,” it’s home to some of the most sublime fugu (pufferfish) in all of Japan, alongside a whole host of other fruits of the sea. With the fishermen themselves taking the time to interact with customers and talk about their catches of the day, the personal, at-home ambiance gives Karato Market a charm all its own.
Are the sights and smells of the market making you hungry? Just head to the second floor, where you’ll find a cafeteria offering only the freshest sushi, sashimi, and other treats for unbelievably reasonable prices. As you eat, look out over the vast market below, listen to the sounds of the fishmongers hawking their wares, and take in all the energy and passion of the people who make their living bringing these delicacies to your table.
Though Karato Market is a delicious and delightful destination any day of the week, it truly shines on Fridays, weekends, and national holidays, when it hosts a regular event known as the Iki-iki Bakangai. During these festivities, food stalls spring up all throughout the first floor of the market, offering sushi made from fish fresh out of the sea, home-made miso soup, and all sorts of gourmet treats. Grab a number of tasty-looking treats to go, and feast on your bounty while looking out over the ocean. You’ll feel like you’ve been lifted up to seafood lover’s heaven!
Hours: Open 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. The Iki-iki Bakangai event is held Friday through Sunday and on national holidays. (Please note that hours for individual shops and events may vary, and certain shops will close when their wares have sold out.)
Admission: No fee is required to enter the market premises.
Address: 5-50 Karatocho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Airport: Yamaguchi Ube Airport
The market is closed for maintenance during the New Year’s holiday season, and at intermittent dates throughout the year. Please confirm for details before your visit.
From Yamaguchi Ube Airport, take a highway express bus to JR Shimonoseki Station (about 95 minutes). Karato Market is a 10-minute bus ride from the station.
Hagi Castle Town and Hagi Meirin Gakusha (Historic Schoolhouse)
Rurikoji Temple’s Five-Storied Pagoda
Hofu Tenmangu Shrine, Mohri Garden, Suo Kokubunji Temple, Amidaji Temple
Ube Biennale Art Walk and Sunrise at Kiwa la Beach
Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido
Yanai City’s White-Wall Townscape
Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge (Great Tsunoshima Bridge)