So you know how I’m crazy about food markets? I’ve been meaning to go to Ota Market for a long time, and last Friday, I finally got off of my lazy butt. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, I hope it’s this: Ota Market is HUGE. See that picture above? That’s just one of the 5 buildings, and it’s only a small part of the fruit building. It’s over 200,000 square meters of fruit, vegetables, fish, and flowers.
Just like Tsukiji Fish Market, Ota is at its busiest in the very early morning. That’s when all of the action happens – restaurant and supermarket buyers coming to place orders and the food auctions. The platform above is only for selling high-end melons, and I suspect there’s a loud crowd surrounding it on weekday mornings!
Ota is a bit out of the way, but if you’re interested in food, it’s definitely a unique and memorable experience. When you get there, there’s a “visitor’s course”, which is a walkway above all of the action to watch daily dealings. There’s even placards explaining the market in English, Chinese, and Korean. I didn’t spot any other tourists while we were there, but we arrived a bit late – noon.
By the time we got to the flower market, everything was gone! The vast warehouse was COMPLETELY empty. Actually, it was interesting to see such a huge empty space (I’m trying to stay positive). Next time, I’ll go earlier :)
If you plan to visit, I suggest going early to watch the auctions from 6-8am when the market is at its busiest. You can also visit the secondary markets from 7-11am, where you can purchase food by the box. It might sound like a lot, but if you’re having a party or dividing the goods between a few friends, some of the quantities aren’t that bad. Just make sure to bring cash.
Here is a link to all of the info and directions to Ota. From Shinagawa Station, exit from the north gate and take the 98 bus from platform 1. In the morning, there’s an express bus that goes directly to Ota Market. Get off the bus at Ota Market West Gate for the flower market and Ota Market for the food markets.