More-Than-Century-Old Nijo Market: A Mini “Tsukiji Fish Market” In The Heart of Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan 日本北海道历史悠久的二条市场, 札幌
Go anywhere in Japan, and one thing becomes clear. The Japanese really LOVE crab. Apart from being blessed with snow, one thing that the northern island of Japan could rely on is the abundance supply of different kind of crabs namely king, queen, hairy and snow.
Japan’s love for crab is legendary, its crab consumption being one of the highest in the world. Typically eaten in the colder months, it’s the quintessential winter dish in Japan and there’s no better place to have it than here in Hokkaido. Hokkaido is like a haven for those who travel for food, seafood to be exact.
I have a penchant for fish markets because that’s where the freshest is found. No visit to Sapporo, or any other prefecture in Japan, would be complete without stopping by a fish market in the morning. The Nijo Fish Market in Sapporo is what Tsujiki Fish Market is to Tokyo. Even though it is much smaller in size, it’s still a great place to get fresh seafood and local produce right in the heart of Sapporo. With other fish markets I have been to, Nijo Market is the smallest and the cleanest. Easy access and no tuna auction to watch unlike Tsukiji Market so the expedition to Nijo Fish Market was a lot less tedious.
Nijo Market is believed to have being built in the early Meiji Period when local fishermen from Ishikari Bay began to sell fish there.
100 years later, the market continues to serve the local residents and is very popular among tourists who come to Hokkaido and buy souvenirs such as Hokkaido crab
One can also enjoy freshly prepared sashimi and sushi that make use of the freshly caught seafood arriving from all over Hokkaido in the early morning.
You can get both fresh and dried fish at Nijo Market.
Some of the crabs are called hairy or horsehair crabs while some are known to be king crabs. King crabs are the biggest and have tons of meat in their legs. Hairy crabs are the opposite. They don’t have much meat but are oozing with rich crab roe. Crabs are expensive everywhere, including here in Hokkaido.
It 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 more 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.
Apart from crabs, they have all kinds of fresh seafood here too like scallops, oysters, uni (sea urchin), and ikura (salmon roe).
Hokkaido oysters are huge!
One frequent gripe about the Nijo Fish market is that it is overly touristy and as a consequence, items may be overpriced. However, the Nijo fish market is also one of the few places in Japan where bargaining is acceptable; don’t be afraid to bargain in Nijo Fish market to get your money’s worth! I also 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.