The English Walking Tour in Yanagibashi Fish Market: Teacher, this class has changed to a shopping tour…


     “What’s yaki-onigiri?”
     “It’s a grilled rice ball!”
     “What’s umeboshi?
     “It’s a pickled plum!”

     When Ms. Hideko Hori asked questions with a spirited voice, the students answered in unison. That was one scene of the English Walking Tour in Yanagibashi Fish Market. The tour was organized by Chunichi Cultural Center on October 4th. It was not a just tour but an English class. Who led the participants was Ms. Hideko Hori, the English teacher at the cultural center, and she gave a brief lesson to the participants how to explain Japanese things in English for foreign tourists before looking around in the fish market.

     We got together around Nana-chan Doll in Nagoya Station at 8:00 in the morning. Early! But we had to because our destination was a fish market, which opens around 4 and closes around 10 in the morning. Nana-chan Doll is an over 6- meter-statue standing before Meitetsu Department Store and one of symbols of Nagoya. She changes costumes every season or on special occasions. She was wearing a golden shachihoko-shaped dress when we were there. (Shachihoko is a fish-shaped charm on the roofs of castles. Nagoya Castle’s ones are very famous for the symbols of Nagoya.) 

     Yanagibashi Fish Market was opened nearly 100 years ago in 1910. It’s the largest fish market in the Tokai region and ranks second in Japan, next to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. The market is over 13,000 square meters and has more than 300 shops of fish, meat, vegetables, flowers, and dried foods. They offer a wide selection of high quality products because their main customers are professional chefs. But in this Yanagibashi Fish Market non-professional common people can enjoy shopping. 

     The participants of this event were paired with partners and one was supposed to act as a foreign tourist and another as a guide. All of us had to speak English during the tour. But the English walking tour changed to an exciting shopping tour in mid-course somehow. The person who showed us around in the market was Mr. Ando, the president of a big company in the fish market. He is clever…

     The president introduced shops in the market, and each shop gave us many samples and offered them at bargain prices. He shouted, “You don’t need paid here and now! You just tell your name and what and how much you want to clerks! You’ll close an account later after this tour! And we can offer a quick-delivery! You’ll receive what you bought at home this evening!” So, everyone tended to buy too much without realizing because they didn’t pay on the spot or bring the things during the tour…

     First, we went to a shop of shellfish. Many of the participants were competing to buy oysters and crams. Second, we stopped by a small fish shop, in which they were selling uncommon prawn named uchiwa-ebi, or ibacus. They looked like ancient trilobites…

     Next we met a vegetable-sculptor. He demonstrated making butterflies by a piece of carrots. We went to a crab-selling shop, some dried food shops, a meat shop, and a fried-egg-roll shop. Each shop we were offered sample foods, and ended up being full by the time the tour was over.

     Actually I did not buy anything this time because I had to attend a class at a university after the tour. You know, I cannot bring fish or meat to the classroom…But I enjoyed the tour and learned many things about the fish market. I’d like to visit there again. I’ll enjoy shopping next time!

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