- What is "Toretore Market Nanki Shirahama"?
- A must-see at the Toretore Market! Powerful "tuna dismantling show"
- Let's taste fresh seafood at the Toretore Market!
- You can buy a wide variety of seafood in the market booths!
- Foodcourt: Toretore-Yokocho
- Souvenir shop: Kuroshio Meitengai
- The Barbecue Garden: No Equipment Needed!
- What are the spots you should definitely stop by around Toretore Market?
- Resort Hotel: Toretore Village
- Enjoy fishing at Katata fishing pond / Katata raft
- Toretore-no-yu: A Relaxing Bath to End your Day
Nanki Shirahama, where “Toretore Ichiba Nanki Shirahama” is located, is a coastal tourist town in the south of Wakayama Prefecture. ”Shirahama” means “white beach”, and among its destinations is a beach, appropriately famous for its white sands, named “Shirarahama”. The town has a rich supply of fresh seafood thanks to its coastal location, and this is cooked, processed, and sold for tourists to enjoy. Toretore Ichiba Nanki Shirahama is one place where visitors can satisfy themselves with all of Shirahama’s marine offerings, that they can see, eat, and buy for home.
Like others, this giant fish market offers a tuna carving show for visitors to see. You can even buy pieces off of the freshly-carved tuna, and eat it in the market! This article will be a close-up on the market’s tuna carving show, and will give you an overview of the market’s surrounding venues!
What is Toretore Market Nanki Shirahama?
A giant tuna greets the market’s visitors
Toretore Ichiba Nanki Shirahama (from hereon, Toretore Market), is a giant seafood market located in Shirahama City of Southern Wakayama Prefecture. Fresh seafood from both domestic and international seas cross paths here, in the expansive facility of 6,100 square meters.
This facility is run by the Katata Fisher’s Cooperative, a local organization of Shirahama. Its supply is hand-picked by experts, making Toretore Market a treasure trove of amazing, freshly caught fish. The scale and quality of Toretore Market’s offerings is hard to match in western Japan, making this an absolute wonderland for seafood lovers.
The Tuna Carving Show: A Must-see at Toretore Market
An entire tuna is carved for the show. The sight is a marvel!
Several times a day in Toretore Market, a tuna carving show is held for the visitors. The sight of an entire tuna being carved apart with a single skilled knife is a hugely popular spectacle for many tourists, both from Japan and abroad.
Through this article, we’ll be explaining in detail everything great about the tuna carving show!
When will the Tuna Carving Show Happen?
The head of a Mebachi Maguro (Bigeye Tuna). This can be bought and eaten too
The show can be seen at no charge, by anybody who makes their way to the carving stage in the market. A bell will notify you when the show is about to start.
When you enter the market, in the far end will be a giant water tank, and just in front of it to the right, is the tuna carving stage. Look for the large hanging tuna model that marks the place.
The carving show begins under this tuna
The exact times and frequency of the day’s carving shows aren’t actually predetermined. They’re decided on the day of, according to factors such as the day’s turnout and weather,
On most days, at least one show will take place around noon, so if you want to see it for sure, we recommend arriving at Toretore market well before noon.
The tuna carving show is approximately 40 minutes long. All viewers will be standing, so be fast to get a front row view!
How the Tuna carving happens
With the jangle of the bells, the carving show begins. With a thud, a whole tuna is set down on the table. If you want a snap of the tuna intact, this is your chance.
The tuna that we got to see was a Mebachi Maguro (Bigeye Tuna) weighing a whole 56 kilograms. Put in more tangible terms, that’s an astounding 150 servings of sashimi.
A picture of the Mebachi Maguro. Absolutely huge!
The massive fish is taken apart with an appropriately sized knife. This day’s carver was Mori-san.
A long carving knife is used to separate the gill area
The head goes first, and then the gills are separated. The giant tuna is halved, then quartered smoothly in fluid motions that ooze years of experience.
The underside of the abdomen is sliced apart, along the central bone
While his hands do the work, Mori-san is constantly speaking through his headset. He explains the part he is currently cutting, how it should be preserved, and its perishability. Occasionally, he will raise his voice for a sales pitch on the tuna’s tastiest parts.
Accompanied by his tactful speaking, the tuna is separated and bought piece by piece. The fish’s head and collar (the area under the gill, that has the pectoral fins) are limited in quantity, so buyers must be fast to raise their hand. On the day of our visit, they were bought as soon as they were carved off.
Almost no flesh is left on the bone. The technique is definitely that of an expert.
In the carving show, you can watch the entire process of a whole human’s mass of tuna being dismantled smoothly, with precision.
And while you’re here, enjoying the carving show, you should try eating the tuna too. The meat of a tuna that was carved right before your eyes, is delicious in a way that just can’t be experienced in most of everyday life.
What kinds of tuna are there?
Toretore Market’s tuna carving shows mostly use one of 4 types of tuna, and the decision is made on the day. The star of this day was the Mebachi Maguro (Bigeye Tuna), but there are also the Hon-maguro (Bluefin Tuna), Kihada Maguro (Yellowfin Tuna), and Bincho Maguro (Albacore) that can take the stage.
■Mebachi Maguro (Bigeye Tuna)
The Mebachi Maguro is known for its large eyes and stubby appearance. he vibrant red flesh is lean, with a more firm texture compared to other types of tuna. Aside from being served as sushi, it’s great in carpaccio and salad.
The beautifully red meat of the Mebachi Maguro
■Hon Maguro (Bluefin Tuna)
This beloved fish, nicknamed the “king of tunas”, is especially large. The meat is soft with plenty of fat, making this a perfect material for sushi and sashimi. The otoro (the tuna’s most scarce, expensive, and fatty meat) melts on the tongue for a luxurious flavor. This tuna is best in autumn and winter, when its meat builds up an excess of fat.
■Kihada Maguro (Yellowfin Tuna)
The Kihada Maguro (Yellowfin Tuna) is characterized by the yellow in its sides, and is loved for its delicate, mild-tasting meat. Its low fat and firmness makes it a great candidate for sashimi, but is also great as marinades and steaks.
■Bincho Maguro (Albacore)
This tuna is characterized by its long frontal fins which gave it the name “Bincho” in Japanese, to mean “long sideburns”. Its soft, lean meat is characterized by its faint color, and the fish reaches its best season in the winter when it builds up fat.
All four types of tuna are equally delicious. If you want to know their features, or how they’re best eaten, the staff at Toretore Market are there to answer your questions.
The Carved Tuna can be Bought on the Spot
After being cut off, the collar is separated to smaller pieces
The entire tuna is carved part by part — from the head, then the collar, the tail and the abdomen — by nothing more than the skilled hands of a single person. The abdomen is first separated once along the spine, then again into the belly-side and back-side. Finally it is cut even smaller into blocks.
The blocks are packaged immediately and sold on the spot. Just raise a hand and say you want it, and it’s yours to buy. If you ask, they’ll even cut it into sashimi for you to eat in the market. The opportunity to eat tuna in the same place that it was carved, is one of Toretore Market’s many wonderful offerings.
Fresh, firm blocks of packed tuna
It’s not just these blocks that can be bought. The head, the collar, and even the leftover meat along the spine is up for purchase. Just like the meat blocks, these are freshly cut from the fish and equally delicious!
How to Eat the Different Parts of the Tuna
The fish can be bought, and eaten fresh in Toretore Market
The meat taken off of the bones, and tuna blocks, are best eaten as fresh sashimi in the market. If raw fish just isn’t your thing, they’re also great as marinades and broiled.
The tail, collar, and cheek meat are rich in fat, so they’re better grilled than eaten raw. The same goes for the equally fatty head meat. The parts around the eye is especially loved by seafood-lovers, and melts on the tongue when stewed in soy sauce, sake, sugar and mirin.
Indulge in All of Toretore Market’s Fresh Seafood!
Toretore Market is filled with seafood, and is bustling with people
Toretore Market is a gathering point for fresh seafood, sourced from all over Japan and the world, available for you to buy from home, or eat-in. In the following section, we’ll show you the different things you can do in the market’s different sections. In one area, you can have your fresh fish cut into sashimi to eat on the spot. Go to the next area for sushi and cooked fish, and another short walk will take you to a shop with Wakayama’s many specialties and produce. There’s something for everybody here!
The Market Area: All Kinds of Seafood are for Sale!
The market area is the main component of Toretore Market
The market area is Toretore market’s main attraction. All kinds of fish from all over Japan, such as Tokushima’s swordfish, Ehime’s mackerel, and Shizuoka’s red snapper, are displayed for sale here. There’s also a section for live products, where we saw Sri Lankan shrimps and Russian crabs being sold.
Seafood gathered from around Japan and the world
The fish you buy here can be carved on the spot for you to eat in the market. Aside from raw fish and crustaceans, you will also find shellfish, roes, and processed goods such as dried fish.
Whale meat, which is rare, can also be bought in blocks
If you caught any fish at the nearby public fishery, “Katata-no-Tsuribori”, those can also be carved and eaten at Toretore Market. For fish, nothing is more important than freshness, and Toretore Market lets you eat them in the best possible way.
Seafood Food Court: “Toretore Yokocho
Toretore Yokocho has plenty of seats, so don’t worry if you’re there in a large group
Toretore Yokocho (Yokocho meaning “alley”) is a foodcourt specialized in seafood. There are three separate sections for sushi, side dishes, and rice bowls/noodles, and all of them offer fresh seafood at a reasonable price. The sushi section offers a cafeteria-style menu for you to pick freely from.
Pick your side dishes, and make your own seafood set meal!
The side dish area lets you choose from items such as sashimi, simmered fish, tempura, and make your own set meal. The rice bowl/noodle area offers dishes such as herring soba, premium shrimp ramen, and salmon roe bowl, all at a reasonable price. There are so many choices that it’s hard to decide!
Souvenir Area: Kuroshio Meitengai
A wide selection of products
IToretore Market also has plenty of souvenirs and local specialties for you to take home. The souvenir shop area “Kuroshio Meitengai”, is packed with processed seafoods, sweets, liquors, and fruit products from around Shirahama and Wakayama prefecture.
The Kagero Cakes are loved for their soft, delicate texture
Alongside staples like Shirahama’s famous “Kagero” Cakes, the shop has a wide selection of Wakayama specialties such as the nearby Minabe City’s Umeboshi (dried plums). The rich selection at all the stores here are enough for you to spend the day browsing!
Minabe City’s Umeboshi
While Wakayama is surrounded by the sea on three sides, giving it an abundant supply of seafood, it also actively produces fruits in the inland valleys.
Kuroshio Meitengai doesn’t just carry processed fish products, like dried squid and fish cakes. It stocks juices and jams made from Wakayama’s oranges, persimmons, yuzu, and plum. You’ll also find seasonings and sakes made from local produce!
The Barbecue Garden: No Equipment Needed!
The barbecue garden is built beside Toretore Market
Beside Toretore Market, the Barbecue Garden is open for families and friend groups to enjoy barbecues together. The admission is 300 yen per adult, and 100 yen per child. No reservation is needed, but there is a meat/seafood set menu that is only offered with prior reservation.
Unusual meats like the tail, and kidneys can be bought in the market too
The “Sanchoku Furusato Mura” area is Toretore Market’s section for agricultural produce. Both meats and vegetables are available here. Just buy your ingredients here, and use the provided equipment at the barbecue garden, and you have yourself a full barbecue with absolutely no preparation! Any fish that you bought at Toretore Market, or caught at Katata-no-Tsuribori can also be brought in for barbecue!
What are some Must-visit Spots around Toretore Market?
A panoramic view from Toretore Village’s observation deck
Near Toretore Market, you will find venues such as Toretore Village (an outdoor resort hotel), Katata-no-Tsuribori (a public fishery) and Toretore-no-yu (a bathhouse). All of these locations are within a walking distance, and named under the umbrella of “Toretore Park”. Here, we’ll introduce these venues of Toretore Park, that are worth a look if you’re going to the market!
Resort Hotel: Toretore Village
The dome-shaped cottages and geometric fence creates a fantasy-like appearance
133 dome-shaped cottages are lined up to create Toretore Village. These cottages come in a western style (for 2 or 4) or a Japanese style (for 6), and no two are decorated the same on the interior. The diversity of experiences that this creates, makes repeaters out of many visitors.
The village is separated into a Märchen Zone and Fantasy Zone. The Märchen zone has both smoking and non-smoking rooms, and is equipped with an outdoor dog park. Certain rooms also allow accommodation with small dogs. The Fantasy Zone is fully smoke-free, and is perfect for families with small children.
The walks are paved in stone tiles. A sight that is rare in Japan!
The village has you covered with amenities such as towels, pajamas, and bathing products. To top it off, all rooms are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi!
Enjoy Fishing at Katata-no-Tsuribori/Katata-no-Ikada
Katata-no-Tsuribori is a short walk from both Toretore Market and Village
The public fishery, Katata-no-Tsuribori, will rent out all the tools you need, so you won’t need your own equipment. Your experience will be one of two categories: a “small game course” or a “big game course.” The small game course is a 2-hour long all-you-can-fish, and is great for beginners with easier fish like smaller mackerel, and red snappers.
For the big game course (reservation required), you’re allowed to bring your own baits and tools. This is geared more towards intermediate to advanced fishers, and the variety of fish is generally larger, and much more diverse. In this course, you will find fish like yellowtail, striped jack, and amberjack of different sizes.
There is also a “casual big game course” that lets you fish from a large fish tank.
A great environment for couples and families
Katata-no-Ikada is a large marine raft that floats just next to a fish farm in Tanabe Bay. The location tends to attract fish, many of whom are popular game for advanced fishers. There are no tool rentals here, so you’ll have to bring your own.
At both fisheries, anything you catch is yours to take home. You can even have it carved right nearby at Toretore Market, and eat it in its freshest state!
Toretore-no-yu: A Relaxing Bath to End your Day
The hot spring has access to many of Shirahama’s famous sceneries
The bathing facility, Toretore-no-yu, takes its water from Shirahama hot springs. Alongside the mineral-rich spring baths (e.g. carbonated springs and oxygen baths) and jacuzzis, this bathhouse has a variety of interesting bathing options.
The open air baths come in many forms. Of course, there is your standard outdoor bath made from a bowl-shaped collection of rocks. A charcoal fire heats the water for the “Bincho-zumi Buro”, and you can even bath in a hollowed out block of ”Yakuhogyokuseki” — a translucent stone long believed to have medicinal effects.
Some of the most interesting facilities in Toretore-no-yu are the “bedrock baths”. These are rooms where you can enjoy the warmth of hot springs by lying down on a heated rock face. There are 6 different bedrock baths here, and all of them have their own unique characteristics!
The “Flame” room rushes you with scented steam created by pouring aroma water over a furnace, and the “Heat” room uses a combination of natural stones in the bedrock, including the medicinal Yakuhogyokuseki and tourmaline stone. The “Salt” room surrounds you with a room of salt tiles, and that list is just half of the 6 different bedrock baths here in Toretore-no-yu! The other 3 are respectively named “Warmth”, “Stream”, and “Snow”, and are unique experiences worth trying out.
Aside from bathing, this venue provides body care services and a Japanese restaurant for you to relax your body after a long day of play!
A Day at Toretore Market: Full of Seafood, Leisure, and Relaxation
Toretore Ichiba Nanki Shirahama is a huge facility with an abundant supply and variety of fresh seafood. Just looking at them makes the day pass by!
Toretore Village, an outdoor resort hotel with an otherworldly atmosphere, provides accomodation at a reasonable price, so set aside a night for your overnight visit to Shirahama! Toretore Park is sure to satisfy you with great food, leisure, and ample relaxation.