Rinyu Morning Market in Otaru

Rinyu Morning Market in Otaru

Finding that last-second sashimi

Rinyu Morning Market in Otaru
R.S. Reynolds   - 3 min read

It had been a relatively long walk and, after heading north with the intention of visiting the nearby Otaru Rail Museum, I found myself in front of Rinyu Market. To be pedantic and precise, the actual name is the Rinyu Morning Market. By morning, I mean it opens at 3 a.m. and retails fish to individual customers and local businesses.

I had no plans to get up and arrive at the start of business but I had marked the market on my city map. When I arrived it was 1:45 p.m. and the market was closing in fifteen minutes. I peered into one of the two counter-style eateries and inquisitively asked one of the ladies in the kitchen, “Hiru gohan?”

My basic and rudimentary question of, “Lunch?” elicited a helpful response. The woman grabbed my hand and took me outside to the picture menu on the exterior wall. She circled the area of grilled fish pictures and crossed her arms to form an “X,” as in “No, you’re too late for this.” This was immediately followed by a circle on the sashimi rice bowls, donburi, to which I was told I could order with a simple exclamation of “Hai!”

Upon my entrance into the small 10-seat establishment I noticed the stalls in the market were in the process of cleaning up and shutting down for the day. Market workers moved in-and-out the restaurant dropping off trays of empty dishes from meals eaten earlier in the day.

Within minutes I had my donburi, a generous portion of tuna sashimi over perfectly seasoned, sushi rice, a small bowl of miso soup and the ubiquitous dish of pickled daikon radish. My lunch only cost ¥1200, substantially cheaper than the restaurants closer to the canal. It was the end of the day too for all the ladies at the restaurant, so I ended up having dinner companions for my lunch as they ate their meal at a table next to mine.

Admittedly, I was a little reticent about making a lunch inquiry so late in the shift but was thankful I did. By walking a little farther away from the canal and other tourists, I found a local spot, ate a delicious lunch and enjoyed some good company.

R.S. Reynolds

R.S. Reynolds @ryan.reynolds

Man about town