Tosa’s Sunday Market: The most heartful market in Japan

One clear sunny day in June, I decided to go to Sunday Market by bike. Before I got there, I could hear cheerful voices from each shop’s owner.

“Irasshai” says an old woman on the right standing under a green tarp and selling green peppers.

“Would you like to buy fresh vegetables?” says a man on the other side holding a newspaper.

When I was walking through the market pushing my bike, one store smelled incredibly stinky. “What??” I looked back and got it. Absolutely it was takuwan (“pickled daikon radish”). I felt that this market is not a normal market. But I was excited so much.
(Entrance of Tosa’s Sunday Market)

Tosa’s Sunday Market(土佐の日曜市) has been held every Sunday for 300 years (Except for Yosakoi week and the New year’s holidays) When you visit Sunday Market, you may be reminded of an old style market because it is similar to Yaoya (It’s Japanese old style vegetable shops).The sellers work at early time because this market usually starts from 5am to 6pm(April~September). They bring many products to their own stores. Absolutely, there are not same stores in the Sunday market. The main product is not only vegetables but also fruits, fish, flower, souvenir and earth wares.

“Kochi has many foods which are something peculiar to Kochi,” said a man who came from another prefecture. “So, it’s quite fun just seeing. When you visit to here, I recommend you walk around eating. Ice cream, Imoten, Yuzu Everything is good!!”

“What is Imoten?” I asked.

“It’s a very popular Sweet Potato Tempura in Sunday Market,” he answered. “Walk about 15minutes and you will smell something sweet.”

So, I walked to there. After 20 minutes, I could understand what he said.

Imoten Stall
Imoten frying
Imoten frying
Imoten Stall

It reminds me of nostalgic memory. And I was so surprised because customers always have to wait in line to buy Imoten. I also waited for Imoten about 5 minutes. Imoten is koromo (outside of Imoten) is a little hard but a part of Imo(Sweet potato) is softly and smells sweety.

It goes without saying that I like it.

Almost all vegetables are grown by sellers. Some stall highlight vegetables that are so fresh and safe. In Kochi city similar daily markets  are held except for Monday and Saturday. And usually takes place from Kochi castle town to Outeusuzi and 426 stores within 1314.5m. Each stall is located within about 3 meters. So, when I was shopping to one stall, the next stall owner said to me. “Oh, stop! My vegetable is cheaper than that one.”

Fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables

When I walked among the market, I found valuable and cheap vegetables. And one Obasan (a friendly middle-aged woman) sold all the time. I enjoyed talking to her. She has been selling homegrown vegetables by herself. She told me some story about her stall. The first person who started this stall is her husband’s mother. But it is hard for her stepmother to keep on selling because of her ages. Then she had decided to sell instead of stepmother. Her store has continued for 30 years. She usually grows some vegetable at weekdays. On Saturday, she harvests her vegetables. And she sells at the Sunday Market.

“What is most interesting things for you, when you come here?” I asked her.

“Absolutely, it’s communication with shoppers,” she answered.

Whoever who comes to her stall, she talked to quite friendly and cheerful. It has nothing to do with regular customer or tourist.

Many people visit at Tosa’s Sunday Market every year because they don’t tire of it.. Every season we go there, we see different scenes, the market changes every time. And Omotenashi (A mind which makes somebody welcome) mind and mindful Obasan and Ojisan (a friendly middle-aged man) talk to me friendly.

So many visitors say, “ I could not be tired of anytime.”

Finally, I could see Kochi Castle. Then I noticed that I arrived at the end of Sunday Market. Riding my bike, I thought “Next time, I would like to try stinky “Takuwan”.
Sunday Market is so crowded, not fashionable and no air conditioner like a supermarket.

But, there is the most heartwarming Market in Japan!!

by Ayano M

2013 EPIC

The Happy Crew

4 thoughts on “Tosa’s Sunday Market: The most heartful market in Japan

  • 2013/08/01 at 9:47 am
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    I was raised in Kochi. So, I thought every city has a kind of the Sunday market.
    The Sunday market is such an amazing place to communicate with local people.
    I know imoten is so good. I love it!

  • 2013/08/01 at 9:57 am
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    I hope many tourists go and enjoy there. The sunday market has a lot of kochi’s products! I’m sure that everyone would love Imoten!

  • 2013/08/01 at 10:14 am
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    I really like Tosa’s Sunday market. When I went there for the first time, I remember I was so impressed by the kindness of people in Kochi. And people who are selling some vegetables are always full of vitality. After reading your article, I felt like eating Imoten!

  • 2013/08/01 at 10:33 am
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    Every time I go to the Sunday Market, I want many people to know this market and visit here. This street is full of Kochi, such as people products, and atmosphere. Thank you for your story!!

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