Almost all visitors have heard of Tokyo’s famous now-closed Tsukiji Market, but the oft-visited spot has become increasingly stricter over the years regarding who may have access to the bustling area. Even the new fish market site at Toyosu limits visitors’ access to the market floor. However, just a short distance away, the Ota Market (Ota Shijo) boasts a site that’s even larger than Tsukiji and happily welcomes visitors to its fish, food and flower auctions.
Farm Produce Building
A large portion of the fruit and vegetables we eat in Tokyo are in fact processed through Ota Market, which first opened its doors in 1989. Today, the facility moves an incredible number of items through its warehouses daily – around 3,750 tons of produce and nearly 29 tons of seafood products are processed here. The market is indeed a link between farmers, intermediate wholesalers, importers and consumers. 166 intermediate wholesalers have their office in this area. While some products do come from local farms, the market is also an important trading place for international products.
Vegetables and fruit prices are fixed by auction. The auctions occur at 06:50 (for vegetables) and 07:00 (for fruits) and are open to the public. The price is determined according to the day’s supply and demand of goods. It is very impressive to see all these seasonal products.
The on-site flower market is the largest in Japan and is very impressive with two auctions sites. Flowers sold here are both Japanese seasonal flowers, as well as specific flowers from abroad. The flower auction starts at 07:00 and unlike standard auction practices, the price here starts at the highest level and drops until a buyer is found. Smaller retailers and buyers can purchase flowers on the first floor where some wholesalers have their stores.
Marine Produce Building
The fish market is located next to the vegetable and fruit market. The fish market auction is the earliest one at Ota, beginning at 05:40, although visitors cannot see the bidding process. Between the two buildings, you can take a break in one of the restaurants and enjoy delicious food cooked from fresh seafood and vegetables from the markets.
How to visit Ota Market?
Ota Market is open from 05:00 to 15:00 every day except for Sundays and holidays. It is recommended to check the market calendar for special closings. Visitors to the market should check in with the guard office on arrival and receive an English-language brochure with a detailed map of the tour course. Large groups must submit a request in advance. In the market, visitors are only allowed to walk along the visitor courses and must use the specially marked course.
Visitors should be mindful during their visit, as the market is very busy in the morning: many trucks are used to carry products. Please note that it’s a ten-minute walk between the flower market and the two other halls.
Overall, Ota Market is can be described as impressive – visitors can truly experience the strong feeling of being in Japan here. In the fruit and vegetable area, discover how seasonal products are highlighted by local farmers. The four seasons are very important to the Japanese and eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is a part of life in Japan. Just a 10-minute walk away, the Flower Market is really worth stopping by. As you enter the flower auctions, you can imagine what it might be like to be a Japanese flower shop owner.
Do not forget to ask for an English brochure; you’ll be able to enjoy Ota Market even more with it. Be sure not to miss the rooftop section of the farm produce building, where Mt Fuji is visible on clear days.
Ota Market can be reached via bus from either the East Exit of JR Omori Station (a 20-minute ride), the exit of Keikyu Heiwajima Station (a 15-minute ride) or from JR Shinagawa Station (a 30-minute ride). The closest bus stop to the market is “大田市場” (Ota-Shijo).
- 3 Chome-2-1 Tokai, Ota, Tokyo 143-0001
- Open 5:00am–3:00pm except Sundays and holidays