Every Sunday morning since 1690, Outesuji, one of the main roads in downtown Kochi, begins its transformation into an open air market that stretches for 1.3 kilometers. This market is known as Nichiyouichi, or simply, Sunday Market.
By the end of this transformation at about five in the morning, the waves of idling taxis waiting to take the last of the late night Saturday party crowd home have been replaced by rows of covered booths filled with fresh, local produce—90% of which you may have never seen before.
You can find Outesuji between Kochi Station and the streets running the famous east and west, and north and south street cars from the station. Outesuji is only slightly north of Obiyamachi, the city's main commercial district.
I recommend starting at the eastern side of the market. That way, you'll end up right in front of another must-see landmark, Kochi Castle.
As you head down the market, have your camera and an adventurous spirit ready. Because the majority of the market is fresh vegetables, fruit, and other food stuffs, the main reason for going is to discover new sights, tastes, and smells—you'll feel like a kid again. Most of the booths are more than happy to give you a little taste of something if you show interest (try to buy something to have in your hotel room if you enjoy it).
Among the local specialties you should try include miso paste, yuzu (a small, tart citrus about the size of a lemon), buntan (pamelo), kinkan (kumquats), biwa (loquat—similar to an apricot), otsukemono (various pickled vegetables), nukazuke (vegetables pickled in rice bran), and katsuo bushi (dried bonito tuna shavings). That's just the beginning.
Typical vegetables, such as tomatoes and egg plants, also tend to be remarkably delicious in Kochi. So if you have the ability to cook while you're here, go ahead and do your dinner shopping at Sunday Market as well.
At the western end of the market, just before Kochi Castle, you can find hand crafted items, antique shops, specialty fishing knives made locally (great for making your own sushi or sashimi), and other interesting items that make nice souvenirs. One of my favorites, little clay frogs that you put in your wallet, turning it into a money magnet (I'm still waiting for mine to pay off, though.).
The market is closed on January first and second, and during the famous dance festival, Yosakoi, in mid-August as Outesuji fills with parades of colorful dancers. Besides these times, the market is open every Sunday of the year. From April to September, the times are 5:00am–6:00pm, and from October to March, 6:00am– 5:00pm.
While this is by far the biggest market in Kochi, if you can't make it, you can always check out the produce only Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Markets instead. There's also a great All Organic, All Local market I'll write about in another article.