Mention a fish market in Japan and most would point you to Tsukiji market. But in nearby Chiba Prefecture, Matsudo Nanbu Ichiba presents a cosier option if you want to escape the crowd.
Hop on the Chiyoda line on the Tokyo Metro to Ayase Station, continue on the JR Joban Line, and get off at Matsudo. You can take a short taxi or bus ride to reach Matsudo Nanbu Ichiba, a small market with a friendly atmosphere.
Similar to Tsukiji, Matsudo has an auction for trade buyers that starts about 6am. Visitors are also welcome to participate in and view the auction with their families. The market has gained a reputation as a family-friendly place due to its fresh fish and produce, affordable prices and the numerous events held there — every third Sunday of the month sees a flea market that draws many visitors in.
Besides selling fresh food, the market is home to several restaurants serving a variety of food like sushi and karaage. What's more, portions are generally larger than usual as these restaurants are catered to the market's physical labourers. As the market closes at 1pm, it is perfect for a day trip.
For those driving, there is a car park that can accommodate 400 cars. While it may get a little crowded on Saturdays, it is manageable and does not reach Tsukiji-level chaos. In fact, with the lower volume of people, you might be able to chat with the grocers and perhaps nick yourself a good specimen for dinner.
A large number of fish and shellfish are on sale, and the market also sells other produce such as fruits and vegetables. If you're feeling peckish, you can indulge in fresh sushi there. Don't forget to bring enough bags to store all the fresh ingredients you will definitely buy there!
Matsudo Nanbu Ichiba is closed on Sundays and public holidays, as well as certain Wednesdays, so be sure to check the website for more details.