Nachi-Katsuura Boasts The Largest Volume of Raw Tuna Landing in Japan

Exciting Auction Site is Open for Viewing

No place but Katsuura Fish Market where you can see raw tuna in a row.

Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Albacore Tuna.  Early morning, shiny-black huge tunas were closely lined up together.  This is Katsuura Fishing Port of Nachi-Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture.  The place which has been flourished from long ago is well known as a natural good port surrounded by the Kuroshio Current (Black Current) where recently, fishing boats from all over the country gather as tuna’s collection point.  What Katsuura Port cares is about freshness, and “Kishu Katsuura Raw Tuna” is on the market as ‘raw tuna’ brand.  Wild-caught tunas which were 100% caught by longline quickly killed on the boat to preserve the freshness aka Ikejime and chilled in ice water (freezing temperature) so that they were carried to the port maintaining its freshness.

Yellowfin Tunas called as “kiwa” and “meji” by locals. Popular for light taste.

Most attractive thing about raw tuna is its “tendered” texture.  Technique has been advanced, but once tuna is frozen, the moisture inside turns into ice and no matter what, it loses its taste and texture when defrosted.  Compared to that, when you bite raw tuna, the thick texture and flavor explode in your mouth and surely will be moved by its great taste.

Middlemen efficiently check the quality of tuna.

Landing of raw tuna at Katsuura takes place throughout a year, but best season is around December to May.  Especially, the top-class Bluefin Tunas as “Pacific Bluefin Tuna” and “Young Pacific Bluefin Tuna” are best in season from February to April.  Taste increases by aging, and the flavor is exceptional.  In March 2018, Bluefin Tuna weighing 450kg has been landed and was in the news.

Auction is held with writing numbers on wooden boards.

At the market, tuna auction starts from 7am until tunas are gone.  Tourists also can view the auction when reserved beforehand (observe from 2nd floor).  Middlemen examine tuna closely moving busily around the market.  Bidding is done by the numbers written on wooden boards.  Bidded tuna are whisked away, delivered not only to the city nor prefecture but throughout the country keeping its freshness.  Besides seeing auction, morning market out every Sunday is popular among tourists to enjoy spot sales of raw tuna for sure but also processed goods and specialties.

Tuna statues found in the city. Nachi-Katsuura is the “city of raw tuna.” Also has World Heritage sites such as Kumano Nachi Taisha (Shinto shrine).

Unattended-Tuna Shop in the City

・This is the famous “unattended raw-tuna sales!” Local people also shop here so maybe sold out in the late afternoon. ・“Nakasada Shoten” is popular shop for fresh tunas. You can buy raw tuna in a block.

It is the unique scenery seen at city of tuna, Katsuura.  That is “unattended tuna sales.”  One of the popular shops is Nakasada Shoten, a seafood wholesaler.  When you open the slide entrance door, you see refrigerated showcases.  Sliced fresh raw tuna bought earlier on the same day are displayed on tray packs.  Even it is local price, outstandingly fresh raw tuna for 200 yen over is surprising.  The place is unattended, you put money by yourself in the box next to the showcase.  You will be happy to find wooden chopsticks and plastic bags as a casual consideration.  Nakasada Shoten also sells block of raw tuna and another specialty of Katsuura, Japanese lobster, so it is a must place to go.  Also, at Katsuura Gyoen, the onsen ryokan (hotspring Japanese inn) adjacent to the shop serves raw tuna and seafood from Nakasada Shoten.  Besides Katsuura Gyoen, there are more restaurants and izakaya pubs in the city which serve raw tuna.  I can state positively that if you want to experience the real taste of raw tuna, Nachi-Katsuura is the place to go.

At “Katsuura Gyoen,”one of the onsen ryokan representing Katsuura, you can enjoy raw tuna filled with flavor and Japanese lobster.

Four types of tunas are landed in Katsuura - Bluefin, Bigeye, Yellowfin, and Albacore tunas. All except Bluefin Tunas are out year-round.

<Inquiry for viewing auction at Katsuura Fish Market>

Nachi-Katsuura Katsuura Fisheries Cooperatives
TEL : 0735-52-0951
Admission Fee: JPY1,000/person
Requires prior reservation by 5pm a day before.  Please check the website for closed days for market and closed days for tunas.  Sometimes the auction ends early depends on number of incoming boats.  For more details, please see the market schedule
Visitors can only view from 2nd floor.  The pictures for the article were taken with special permission.

Text & Photos/Naoko Terada, Travel Journalist

更新: 2019年6月25日