DAY TRIPPING IN SAPPORO – THE NIJO FISH MARKET

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Morning Action Nijo Fish Market SapporoSapporo Nijo fish market (二条市場, Nijō Ichiba) is a public market that spreads across an entire city block.  For first time visitors the market can be an excellent point from which to start the day.  Locals visit the market to source some of Hokkaido’s exceptional agricultural bounty as well as fresh caught seafood treasure like snow crab, cured salmon and its roe, sea urchin and other seasonal fish.

Morning Nijo Fish Market SapporoNijo Market is thought to have begun early on in the Meiji Period at a time when fishermen from Ishikari Bay journeyed to Sapporo to sell their fish.  Over time food stalls, specialty shops, and vegetable stands accumulated in the Nijo Market.  Over 100 years later the market has developed into a veritable oasis for all forms of culinary needs including restaurants and cafés.  Tourists from all over Asia now arrive in search of pristine Hokkaido ocean souvenirs.  Adjacent to the market is a multi-unit building called Noren Yokocho which contains multiple local eating and drinking establishments.  All of this take together makes the Nijo Market a very popular spot for informed gourmands.

Fish Market Sapporo

The Nijo Fish Market is to Sapporo what Tsujiki Fish Market is to Tokyo.  What it lacks in size it makes up in the quality of its ultra-fresh seafood, vegetables and fruit.  Snow Crabs lined up in front of the stores are first to steal glances from approaching visitors.

Snow Crab Nijo Fish Market SapporoWhat the Nijo Fish market lacks in size, it makes up for in convenience. It is located only two streets south from the Odori Park, the east-west median of the city of Sapporo. From my hotel, Hotel Pearl City Sapporo, which was near Sapporo station, the Nijo Fish market is a comfortable 15-20 minute walk.

Salmon Nijo Fish Market
Salmon at Nijo Fish Market

Fresh salmon, fish roe, crabs, sea urchin can be purchased here. The Nijo fish market is also one of the few places in Japan where bargaining is acceptable; feel free to try and bring the prices down. The prices between restaurants also vary so I recommend checking out the prices at a few restaurants before deciding on one.

When you are at the Nijo Fish Market, it is recommended that you try the uni-ikura don for breakfast. As I don’t really know how to appreciate uni, I decided to go for the simpler option of salmon ikura don.

Crab Nijo Fish Market SapporoIt is also possible to try those huge crabs that Hokkaido is so famous for at the restaurants in Nijo fish market. Coming from Southeast Asia, I’m familiar with Sri Lankan crabs, which are typically cooked with a strongly flavoured sauce, for instance, chilli sauce, or black pepper sauce. In comparison, crabs in Hokkaido, being bigger, have a sweet, flavourful taste without any extra sauces, so the restaurants typically prepare them by simply boiling or grilling.

Asparagus at Nijo Fish Market SapporoOne frequent gripe about the Nijo Fish market is that it is overly touristy and as a consequence, items may be overpriced. However, I feel that its accessible location sufficiently compensates for it as there no need to spend on transport cost to go to the Curb Market, which is Sapporo’s largest fish market near Soen train station. That said; don’t be afraid to bargain in Nijo Fish market to get your money’s worth!

Best Restaurant SapporoThe market is open from around 7:00 to around 18:00 on all days of the week.  Several restaurants can be found among the shops, including an eclectic mix of cafes, tea houses, bars and small eateries. collection of small drinking places and restaurants along a narrow corridor called Noren Yokocho.

Hokkaido Uni Nijo Fish Market SapporoA highly recommended way to enjoy the market is to savor a fresh seafood breakfast at one of the market’s restaurants.  Among the most popular menu items for starting the day is the uni-ikura donburi – a steaming bowl of rice topped by fresh, seasonal sea urchin and preserved salmon roe which adds just the right amount of saltiness to this textural masterpiece.  LuxNiseko recommended restaurant is Sakanayano-Daidokoro.  Here you will experience seafood on par with the quality found at Ginza’s best sushi restaurants (minus the atmosphere and technique) at a very accessible price (¥2800+) and can be paired with Sapporo Classic draft beer.  In season the uni is absolutely extraordinary with multiple varieties available for side-by-side comparison.

Vendors at Nijo Fish Market Sapporo

One of the best aspects of the Nijo Fish Market is it’s central location which is a short walk to the JR Train Station, shopping malls and restaurants.  It is located two streets south of the Odori Park, Sapporo – just a 15-20 minute walk away.

Local Graffiti in Sapporo

Along the way there is plenty of visual stimulation that runs the spectrum from street culture like graffiti – all the way to sculptural masterpieces positioned at key points within the downtown sprawl.

Art Sapporo