The devastating tsunami that struck northeast Japan on March 11, 2011 resulted not only in local damage, but had repercussions from Hokkaido to Kyushu, and even overseas. One of these was the Nakaminato fish market. Located in Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture, it is not quite in Tohoku, but just south of neighboring Fukushima Prefecture. On that day this area was struck by a tsunami that crested at four meters. However, due to strong support and strong will for its recovery it was back in business 50 days later. Parts of the adjacent port are still undergoing repairs, but the market receives many tourists on weekends.
Its main appeal is the availability of fresh seafood at low prices. Visitors can also enjoy purchasing walk-away foods such as raw oysters or grilled uni (sea urchin eggs) from vendors. Or, those purchasing fish can, upon request, have them filleted and served with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and soya sauce on the side, to be eaten on the spot. As the market also has several kaiten zushi shops where sushi is served from belt conveyors, and other restaurants serving Japanese cuisine, it invariably hosts lively crowds at lunchtime. While some people have voiced concerns over the port’s relative proximity to radiation from the crippled Fukushima reactors, all foods sold here undergo safety checks. The Nakaminato port can be reached by passenger car from Tokyo in approximately two hours using the expressway, making it an ideal destination for day trips. Hearing the merchants’ lively voices hawking their wares, the tragedy that unfolded two years ago seems so remote as to be almost unreal.