By Tony Mariani
Yanagibashi Market is one of the most popular fish markets in all of Fukuoka Prefecture and sits in Chuo Ward of Fukuoka City. It is known as “Fukuoka’s Kitchen” because of its abundance of fresh fish that attracts many chefs from around the city. Here you can buy a variety of fish, from the easy-to-get salmon, to the hard-to-find and always-controversial whale. Its 47 shops include butchers, fish stores, greengrocers, and more. When it comes to food specialties, Fukuoka is most popularly known for its Hakata-style ramen. However, it is also popular for its variety of fish that are transported daily to its shores from the Genkai Sea and the Sea of Japan. The rich plankton fields near Tsushima, Iki, and Goto Islands attract many different kinds of fish that are ultimately destined for the Yanagibashi Market.
If fish isn't your thing, but you're still interested in exploring this historic site, there are also quite a few specialty shops in the Yanagibashi Market. While Yanagibashi is known for its fresh fish, it also has a popular butcher shop called Yanagibashi Hanshin Meat. The shop mostly provides pork and beef in either sliced or minced forms. Since it is the only meat store in the market it is not hard to miss.
Sakamoto Nori-ten specializes in various types of nori, better known as dried seaweed in English. The store provides a variety, including different seasoning, texture, and sizes. Some of the seaweed you might find here is sealed in airtight plastic bags or containers, while others are concealed in souvenir boxes with decorative wrapping.
Takamatsu no Kamaboko is a shop that specializes in kamaboko. If you have ever had a bowl of ramen and wondered what the pink and white thing floating with your noodles was, well that would be kamaboko. It is a Japanese processed seafood product that consists of various pureed white fish. It is made into paste, formed into loaves, and finally steamed until it is completely cooked. There are a variety of kamaboko, the most popular being the imitation crabmeat found in sushi across the world. Takamatsu no Kamaboko also sells various fish paste balls and other pureed fish products popular in Japan.
With all this fish you will be consuming, you might want to chase it all down with a glass of wine or hot tea. If that is the case, there are two specialty shops that will have just what you are looking for. Fukuoka Wine Club is like stepping out of an Asian fish market and into a small European wine cellar. The store has various types of wine from different locations around the world. Ezakiseicha-en is a teashop with traditional Japanese teas, along with a few Chinese teas as well. Either shop will be sure to quench your thirst and relax your taste buds from the wasabi-laced soy sauce used for your sashimi.
Getting to the market is a 15-minute walk from JR Hakata Station, or you can take a Nishitetsu bus and get off at the Yanagibashi bus stop adjacent to the arcade. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (varies by shop) and is closed on Sundays and national holidays. If you get there late in the afternoon close to closing time you will be sure to score some sweet discounts. The shops at Yanagibashi Market are cash only and parking is unavailable; however, there are of course many 100-yen parking lots in the market’s vicinity.
柳橋連合市場—Yanagibashi Rengou Ichiba—Yanagibashi Market
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