During my stay in Fukuoka City, I could not waste the opportunity the try the delicious local specialties of Hakata Bay. Though many tourists are aware of the famous Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, when it comes to Kyushu and Fukuoka, the Fukuoka Yanagibashi Fish Market is the place to be. Around 8,000 visitors come to the market every day making this the largest market in Japan outside of Tsukiji in terms of tourist numbers.
Similar to other fish markets in Japan, the market here acts as a hub for fishermen and sells seafood directly to businesses and the public. This Fukuoka fish market also begins very early with the first auctions starting at 3:00 in the morning—two hours earlier than in Tokyo! I was not prepared to wake up this early so visited the market later in the morning. Even so, I heard that some of the most exciting parts happen during the early hours as the fish are unloaded. So I would recommend it for those interested in seeing the market during each of its interesting phases.
If you want to see the auctions, you should at least come at around 5:00 am as this is the time when the buyers from shops and supermarkets come to purchase their supplies. The place is full of energy and excitement during this time as vendors compete to get the freshest fish at the lowest prices.
Aside from the market itself, you can enjoy fresh seafood meals in the restaurants nearby. Some shops offer a small piece of their fresh tuna as a free sample before you enter. This area is a great opportunity to eat some delicious fresh sushi and sashimi for a very reasonable price.
If you are a real seafood lover, you should have a stay in Fukuoka to try the local seafood specialties at the Fukuoka Yanagibashi Fish Market. Be sure to note that the market is closed on Sundays and national holidays.