Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
I actually struggled with whether to write this as a Thing to Do, Shopping, or Restaurant tip because you can, and probably should, do all three when you visit the world's largest fish/seafood market. As a nation of at least 3,000 islands, there is obviously a lot of water around and a lot of seafood in that water. Over 60,000 people work for more than 1,600 vendors in processing and selling over 2,000 tons of more than 500 varieties of fish and other seafood each day through the Tsukiji (pron SKEE-jee) Market.
The giant blue fin tuna is the king of the Market and also causes the most fanfare, both positive and negative. Sometimes the giant blue fin auction generates so much interest that tourists, who are normally welcome in public areas of the market, are totally banned for a day, a few days, or even weeks. One giant blue fin tuna will often sell for more than US$10,000. More than one-third of the tuna harvested in the entire world is consumed by the people of Japan.
Come for the tuna auctions, stay for the sushi breakfast. Consider staying in the Chuo area, as public transport only begins from 5am. Wear covered shoes, unless you want your exposed toes to be tickled and perfumed with fish guts, and go easy on the sake the night before. You will pass a number of signs warning against tipsy tourists, and you will also need your wits about you to dodge the transit vehicles on site.
Lines are unavoidable at Daiwa Sushi, Tsukiji’s famed sushi bar (also open from 5am). The sushi sets are a good bet if you’re not comfortable ordering in Japanese.
Lonely Planet rates the Tsukiji Fish Market as the #1 Thing to Do out of 683 which they list for Tokyo. I am not certain that I would list it quite that high but it would be in my Top 10.
Tsukiji Fish Market is the world's largest fish market and is famous for its early morning tuna auctions, when some fish occasionally sell for almost $2,000,000 US. That's right, in January 2013, a Tokyo sushi shop paid $1.76 million U.S. dollars for a 488-pound bluefin tuna, averaging $3,600 per pound!
Tsukiji is a massive market that sells some 400 different kinds of seafood bid on by 900 licensed dealers. The market employs over 60,000 people, and it generates US $7-8 billion in revenue each year.
Visitors often line up at 5:20 in the morning for the tours of the tuna auctions. The market now limits visitors to just 140 tourists a day during the auction times. Beyond the inner market, visitors can eat sushi at the small market known as Uogashi-Yokocho, or check out the huge Jogai market, where shops, grocery stores and restaurants lines streets filled with shoppers.
Modern Tsukiji market opened in 1935, but is expected to move to nearby Toyosu, Koto, an issland in Tokyo Harbor by 2014.
As of July 2010, the market has imposed a restriction to the number of visitors who could view the auctions. It has been limited to 140 only and they have to enlist right at the market itself (around 4:30 am or earlier). Those lucky enough to be included will be given yellow vests (like what construction or traffic workers put on) to wear to identify you from other would-be visitors.
If you fail to come early enough, tough luck. Pleading with them won't help, they'll just tell you to 'take a hike'. Better try again the next day...
Ok, the first thing to know about this place is that it's not a tourist attraction it's a live market where fish is sold, but being that's it's the largest in the world it does make it a tourist attraction. Now the merchant are accepting of tourist, but make sure you stay out of there way. It's there place of work... photo's are highly discouraged, but you can sneak in photo's before someone tells you to "go, go". As for the time. You have to get here at 5:00 am to see the place in action... get there at 10:00 am and you won't see much as the place is clearing up. As for the world famous giant tuna auctions, it's almost impossible to get close, the market have placed guards who's job is to keep the tourist out and away from the auctions. The Guards have placards in English telling you to move. And they are good at telling you "go, Go, Go". A must do experience... also make sure you bring a pair of shoes that you don't mind getting dirty, just about all the stalls have hoses running so water and fish blood are everywhere... my biggest surprise is that the place doesn't smell !!!! Fresh fish doesn't so it was a great time. We got there about 5:00 am and left about 8:00 and saw plenty. A MUST DO !!!!!!
the world famous seafood market of tokyo. Most go tourists go here in the dawn hours to watch the spectacular tuna auctions in the early morning hours that are both a main attraction for visitors and the main source of frictions between market workers and tourists, due to the interference caused by the sheer number of spectators and cases of misbehaving tourists. To reduce frictions, tourists are asked to visit the auctions only between 5:00am and 6:15am, to view the auctions only from the designated "visitor area" and to not use flash photography. Unfortunately we got here in the afternoon so no review of the famous tuna auctions in my tip. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world's largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day. The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish, shellfish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Market one of Tokyo's major tourist attractions.
Just outside of the wholesale market is a thriving outside market of small retail shops and restaurants that cater to the public and it is here that we went for a quick stroll before going back to ginza. Here you can find all sorts of food related goods, knives, vegetables and fish for sale in smaller (than wholesale) portions. A visit to Tsukiji Market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the onsite or local restaurants. you would spend around 2,000 yen average on a sushi breakfast. Restaurants typically open around five in the morning and close between 12:00 and 15:00.
This is not just any fish market!
The Tsukiji market consists of the fish market and the outer market where they have lots of dry stuff too.
In the outer market, you can find lots of interesting stuff like wakame, dry scallops, famous Japanese seaweed, fish knives, snacks, etc. You can't find this kind of market in any other part of the world!! They sell very Japanese stuff.
We arrived there about 645am and have already missed the auction, however, we still got to see a lot of the fish market workers doing their stuff. In fact, we felt like a nuisance to them as we seemed to be getting in their way
Be really careful not to get in their way. The fish market workers drive these flat vehicles which can go rather fast. I have never seen these unique vehicles before. The fish market workers don't sit, they stand in these vehicles.
In the wet fish market, just take a look around, they have absolutely interesting seafood. Some of the clams/oysters/scallops (I'm not sure which) are even bigger than my hand/palm!
This Tsukiji market is very interesting indeed. Don't think..."What? Go to a fish market?" This is not your ordinary local fish market. It's a place that every tourist would love to see.
Visit the Tsukiji market in the early morning (4 am) to witness the hussle and buzz which surrounds the auctioning of tuna. After that, stop at one of the many small restaurants located around the market to taste the freshest and fabulously delicious sushi and sashimi. It's a great way to start your day in Tokyo !
This market is reportedly very busy in the wee hours of early morning. We reached this place at about 9-10 am, so most of the activities (auction of freshly caught sea produce such as tuna, etc) have ceased. The alleys are narrow and filled with all kinds of shops selling food products. There are also many restaurants where you can have a great meal of fresh sashimi at reasonable prices. To see what we had for breakfast, see my 'Restaurants' tip.
All of Japan's fresh fish produce comes from the Tsukiji Markets (Fish Markets). We went to the markets early one cold morning at around 7am and walked around looking at the array of stalls. Every type of fish you could think of is at these markets.
You have to be very careful not to get in anyone's way, which was very difficult as everyone is moving madly around the place.
Afterwards we had a fresh sushi breakfast at a very tiny stall located just outside the market
unfortunately, the subway doesn't open until 5am and the bidding starts at 3am. Get a place in walking distance and find a english speaking japanese tour guide as the american ones over in japan are rude to you if you ask them a simple question unless you are paying for their tour whereas the native tour guides will assist you for a few minutes.......honor and politeness are stressed over there.
Tsukiji Market operates as early as 5am where the day is still dark. Fishermen will bring in their catch of the day for auctioning. You will have to set your alarm or make sure you get an early morning call in order to make it to the market before all the action are gone.
We could not find the auctioning area. But we saw the tuna fish were being cut and axe into smaller parts for sale at the market. Tuna sashimi were also being sold and you can taste the freshness right at the market.
If you prefer to take a seat and have your fresh sashimi and sushi, there are some restaurant and eateries where you can have your “breakfast”.
We had the best sashimi don over at a small eatery near the Tsukiji Fish Market.
If you are prepared to get up before breakfast and take a ride to the Tokyo Fish market (Tsukiji) you will be rewarded with a unique experience.
Firstly it is really busy so be careful not to get in the way! You are bombarded from all directions by men on special trucks which go everywhere in the market. They have a job to do and tourists can hinder.
The second thing you will notice is that there is no offensive smell, unusual in certain other such places I have visited. This is due to the very high standards of cleanliness observed by the traders, and throughout Japan for that matter.
Be sure to take a camera but avoid flash where it could be a nuisance.
Make sure you see all the stalls where you will see more fish than you can possibly imagine and visit to the auction room where huge frozen tuna are examined.
After this you will be ready for a delicious sushi breakfast and sample some of the fish at one of the many restaurants nearby. Do try everything on offer, some of the food will be to your taste, others will not. What I learned in Japan about food is nothing always tastes as it looks! Enjoy!
Make your way to Tsukijishijo Station on the Subway Oedo Line OR Tsukiji Station on the Subway Hibiya Line and begin your day with the best sushi/sashimi breakfast at one of the several restaurants located in Tsukiji Fish Market at very reasonable prices.. Here you may find many rare fishes here. You'll have fun just to watch them sell/bid for the fishes..
The best time to arrive is before 8 a.m. (most of them open around 5 a.m.). The market is closed on Sundays, holidays and certain other days. For more info, go to http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3021.html ...
While in Tokyo a visit to the Tsukiji fish market is a must. The market starts jumping early so arrive there at 0530 for a spectacle of bartering for the freshest fish to grace Tokyo restaurant tables. This is serious business and it is something to see. The tuna auctions are especially interesting, some patrons handing over the equivalent of thousands of dollars in yen for a prize catch.
After spending one to two hours watching the activity, head over to one of the several sushi shops in the market for a sushi breakfast. People will be lining up to get in them. This is some of the freshest sushi you will ever taste.
In order to see the fish auction in action, our hostel staff told us that we had to reach the market before 6.30am. We reached the market at 11am instead so we just went there just for lunch. There are many sushi stalls here and I think the price is quite cheap and reasonable. My plate of fresh sushi only cost 890 yen which I think you will not be able to get in other parts of Tokyo. It was a great meal!