○The “Ichi” in Yo-ichi

Ichi in Japanese refers to a place where many people gather to buy and sell goods. It also means a place where small retailers gather to sell their products. Basically, an open-air market/flea market.

With this article, we’d like to showcase some of Morioka’s special Ichi markets like the Yo-ichi market in Zaimoku-cho, Mikoda Asa-ichi Morning Market, and the original K-Truck (lightweight pickup truck) Market in Shizukuishi.


○Yo-ichi Market in Zaimoku-cho

The Zaimoku-cho area of Morioka has six monuments designed around light and music by an old crafts store called Kogensha. These are closely tied to the famed Iwatean author Miyazawa Kenji, and thus, Zaimoku-cho is known as a district where you can enjoy the fantasy world of Kenji. It is in this area where the Yo-ichi market was started in 1974. It is held every Saturday from April to November on the main street in the area, and 2022 marked its 49th year of operation.

Cars are barred from the street starting at 3 pm, and retailers rush in to begin preparing. In only around ten minutes, everyone has set up shop, and the long-awaited Yo-ichi has now begun. The market is filled with popular mom-and-pop food sellers, and the streets are bustling with customers from the elderly, to families, to small children.

Craft beer from one of Iwate’s most famous breweries is on tap, and you can even buy sweets from Zaimoku-cho’s traditional Japanese confectionary shop, along with other gourmet foods. There’s also seasonal vegetables, fruits, flowers, seafood, and homemade bread for sale.

Yo-ichi is held on a street in Zaimoku-cho that is around 430 meters long, and by 4pm, it’s filled with over 100 shops from within and outside the city. You’ll even see long lines forming at particularly popular shops.

So if the “Ichi” in “Yo-ichi” means “market”, what does the “Yo” mean?

The Japanese language is filled with homophones, and the meaning differs depending on the character used. The “Yo” in Yo-ichi is written phonetically, but it could mean anything from:

萬 ⇒ Many different varieties and

余 ⇒ an overabundance of

良 ⇒ high-quality goods that

与 ⇒ we give our customers so

喜 ⇒ they will be satisfied

*This is just an involved wordplay by the founders of the market – the Japanese language isn’t quite as complicated as this in practical usage.

If you’re in town on a Saturday evening, we hope you take a nice stroll down Yo-ichi market.

○ Mikoda Asa-ichi Morning Market

The Mikoda Morning Market is held almost every day (excluding Mondays and the New Year’s holidays), and altogether is open over 300 days of the year – the only market in Japan that is open for so much of the year.

At the Mikoda market you’ll find Iwate’s seasonal agricultural and ocean products, homemade pickles, sweets, and even ramen shops. It is popular with both locals and tourists. Mikoda is an enjoyable place to shop as producers and consumers are able to chat face to face. The market opens every morning at around 4:30 am, and while there are shops that stay open until 7:30 or 8:00 am, it’s best to show up early.

Try waking up a bit early to enjoy the best Mikoda has to offer!

○ The Original K-Truck Market in Shizukuishi

The K-Truck Market is held on a 500m pedestrian-only area of Yoshare Street in Shizukuishi, a town to the west of Morioka. It’s held on the first Sunday of every month from May to November (2nd Sunday of July) from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

K-Trucks are small, lightweight pickup trucks that are common in Japan. This K-Truck Market sees Yoshare Street filled with lines of small pickups where shopkeepers sell fresh vegetables and fruit, seafood, crafts, and other of their prized wares. You’ll see products here you won’t see elsewhere, and many people visit the market to find just what they’re looking for.

The K-Truck Market of Shizukuishi is seen as the original of its type, and similar markets are held throughout Japan. It was originally an idea born from a workshop where people discussed how to bring life back to dying commercial districts.

“All farmers have a K-Truck. They can load it up with fresh vegetables they’ve picked in the morning, and bring them right to the commercial district where the people are. That will bring business to the commercial district as well.”

The original K-Truck Market of Shizukuishi was started in 2005, and boasts over 30,000 visitors a year (more than the population of the town itself).

The market is like a treasure trove of the charms of the region. How about looking for some treasure yourself?

We hope that you visit some of our charming markets if you have the chance to visit Iwate.

All of these markets have enacted anti-COVID measures like masking so please follow those guidelines when visiting.


○ The Tourism Passport for the Kazuno and Morioka Region

Last, we’d like to share some information about the Kazuno and Morioka Region Tourism Passport.

The Morioka Regional Development Bureau has joined with the Kazuno Regional Development Bureau of Akita Prefecture to help local tourism businesses and restaurants affected by the pandemic. During the Northern Tohoku Tourism Campaign held in summer and fall 2022, you’ll be able to use this passport for discounts – leading to more travel and consumption. There is tourism information and discount coupons for local restaurants, as well as a prize giveaway within this info-loaded pamphlet, available to use from July 1st until November 3rd. Use this to max your fun in the Morioka region!