Ishikawa: Kanazawa’s Omicho Market marks 300th anniversary

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People walk in the Omicho Market on April 22.

KANAZAWA — It has been 300 years since the opening of the Omicho Market, known as the kitchen of Kanazawa. To celebrate, the market held a stamp rally in which participants can win shopping coupons. While there are fewer tourists amid the pandemic, the market will also hold a customer appreciation day during which special deals will be offered to draw in local customers. A commemorative ceremony was held on April 22 for those involved in the market.

The Omicho Market started in 1721 as a consolidation of markets dotted around the Asanogawa river and Saigawa river, and it prospered as a market for the Kaga clan, according to the market’s shopping street promotion association. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the market was lined with wholesalers, intermediate traders and retail stores, but with the opening of the Kanazawa City Central Wholesale Market, it became a shopping district specializing in retail. There are about 170 stores today.

The Omicho Market enjoyed popularity among local residents for a long time, but it began attracting many tourists after the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line in 2015, with annual visitors to the market reaching about 7 million, or an increase of 60% over the level seen before the Shinkansen line opened. But fewer local residents visited it to avoid crowds.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hajime Yoshimura, president of the Omicho Market shopping street promotion association, gives a speech at a ceremony marking 300 years of business in Kanazawa on April 22.

Due to the pandemic, visitors to the market dropped by as much as 80% to 90% last year. The association is working to promote the market especially among local customers in light of the tricentennial. As part of the festivities, on April 22, the association began inviting residents to become “Omicho supporters,” asking them to post event information or topics about the market on social media in the hopes of attracting young, local customers.

The association will also hold a customer appreciation day every month, offering special deals and one-hour free parking at nearby parking lots. The association also plans to post YouTube videos on topics such as how to prepare fish.

“We want to offer many ways for local customers to enjoy shopping at the market,” said an association official.

About 50 people, including those related to the market, attended the ceremony held at the market on April 22.

“I want to have the market evolve into a kitchen for local residents that responds to changes in their lifestyles and preferences, leading to the preservation of the history of the market,” said association president Hajime Yoshimura.