Here's some of what I found at the Katsuura morning market, an hour and a half outside Tokyo: Just caught and unbelievably fresh horse mackerel, anchovy, bonito, tuna, orange-colored kinme and metallic-skinned sanma shaped like the blade of a knife. Three foot wild yellowtail (buri) and young wild yellowtail (warasa) resting in tubs of slushy ice. Napa cabbage bigger than footballs. Coarsely ground homemade miso, smoked wild boar and foot-long dried squid stretched out on racks. Perfect persimmons, five for two bucks. A clutch of country women north of 50 (some north of 80) offering daikon, taro, Tokyo negi, cucumbers, carrots, ginger, yams and turnips they grew themselves. Sellers plying you with tastes of their grilled sardines, nori preserves, shiokara, purple, peach and charcoal-colored mochi, and eggplant pickles. And dozens of shoppers drawn to a morning market that's been going strong since the 1570s.
I'm in Japan right now, heard about Katsuura and decided to check it out. A fishing port located in the southern Chiba peninsula on the Pacific coast, it was short hop from Tokyo but felt a million miles away. The place was rustic: fishermen and farmers plying their trades, country life chugging along at its timeless pace. The market snakes along a narrow old lane below a Shinto shrine. The fishing port sits close by. There, I watched sleek boats pulling in and unloading their catch, and a chef wearing a windbreaker over his whites, pants tucked into rubber boots, studying the fish carefully and choosing the best ones for his restaurant.
I encourage you to check out Katsuura the next time you're in Tokyo. (To get there, take the Wakashio Express on the Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station.)
Here are some pictures: