Auction Tours at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market [Sapporo]
by Shungo Hanaoka
Deciding the prices of food products for approximately 2.3 million residents in the Sapporo area as well as being responsible for the distribution of these products, the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market is an interesting place with history, culture, and, of course, delicious food.
Products are brought here in the early hours before dawn for the “seri,” or Japanese original style auction. Visitors to the wholesale market are given the opportunity to witness the auction.
Please be aware the tour begins in the early hours of the day. And there is a designated course for the visitors. Visitors will primarily visit the seafood area and the fruit/vegetable area. There is an exhibition room as well with displays to help visitor gain a deeper understanding of the wholesale market.
The tour begins in the seafood area. The group is taken to the second floor of the building, giving them a bird’s view of the entire wholesale market.
Visitors can feel the atmosphere of the wholesale market buzzing with excitement. Small vehicles knowns as “Turret” are maneuvering themselves in and out of the crowded passageways. Watching the skilled drivers operate the Turrets in these limited space conditions can be quite an exciting experience.
The much-awaited Tuna Auction has begun. Do you why Hokkaido seafood is so delicious? For this and other questions, feel free to ask your tour guide.
In the wholesale market, there are many stores. Within the heart of the wholesale market is a branch of the knife specialty store “Miyabun Hamonoten.” Miyabun Hamonoten has a long and rich history from when it first began, over 90 years ago, in 1927. The knives from this store are used by seafood professionals. As pictured above, visitors have the opportunity to see and examine these specialized knives used by top professionals to prepare Japanese seafood.
This is the Turret in the exhibition room. The Turret uses natural gas as its fuel. Visitor can board the Turret in the exhibition room to learn more about how it could feel to actually operate a Turret.
The exhibition room is filled with interesting displays like the photograph of the Big Tuna pictured above. The Big Tuna is a real tuna fish brought to the Sapporo Wholesale Market. The length of the tuna is 240 centimeters with a weight of 257 kilograms (566.6 pounds).
The “relocate the beans using your chopsticks” game is popular among our foreign visitors. Players are given a time limit of only one minute. If it were you, how many beans do you think you could safely relocate within the allotted time?
The visitors take a short walk to proceed to the next section of the tour: the fruit/vegetable area. Though there are seasonal factors, most people are surprised by the large amount of products brought into the wide fruit/vegetable area.
The fruit and vegetable auction! In this area, the distance between the auction staff and visitors is quite near, making it easier to understand the transactions.
There is a cafeteria within the wholesale market as well. It is a restaurant for the wholesale market workers. Luckily, visitors are allowed to eat here as well.
The cafeteria sources its seafood directly from the wholesale market. The cafeteria offers fresh seafood rice bowls (pictured above), or special lunchboxes where the items may change daily. In addition, there is a menu with numerous option. Diners are quite pleased with the reasonable prices here as well.
Near the wholesale market is the “Jyogai Ichiba” or Curb Market. This market has many stores for the local residents as well as tourists. Visitors can enjoy the luxurious taste of seafood here as well.
Though the auction tours are a bit early in the morning, participating visitors have a great opportunity to experience original Japanese culture as well as enjoy a delicious breakfast.