Known as one of the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji Market is on travel bucket lists of many tourists visiting Tokyo. The fish market is one of 11 wholesale markets in operation in Tokyo and among of them, it is the oldest. Tsukiji handles over 2,000 tons of marine products per day and it is open 24/7 with thousands of people going in and out. When going around the market, all visitors enjoy the busy atmosphere of sellers and buyers, and seeing lots of kinds of fresh seafood. Watching the tuna auction at the market is one of the most favorable activities of tourists.
Due to its aging infrastructure, the market is scheduled to move to a new site in the Toyosu district of Tokyo's Koto Ward this November. Here are some tips for you to get the best experience at the famous market before it is relocated.
Spending the night somewhere near the Tsujiki Fish Market
Photo by Harold Dixon
Anyone who arrives after the 120th visitor cannot register and is asked to leave. Remember that there is no any bus or train operating 24/24 in Tokyo, and you must go on foot if wishing to be at the market early for registration. Therefore, make sure that you stay within the walking distance to the Fish Market. You can choose to stay at a manga café, or a karaoke box or a capsule hotel nearby.
You can also take a taxi from your hotel to the market but it may be very expensive and you can find it difficult to talk with taxi drivers in English.
Get to the Fish Market around 3.30 a.m. or even earlier for the Tuna Auction
Photo by JoshBerglund19
The tuna auction is open to visitors from 5.25 a.m. to 6.15 a.m. and restricted to only 120 people per day. If you wish to see the auction, you have to register at the Osakana Fukyu Centre (Fish Information Centre) at the Kachidoki Gate, which operates from 5 a.m. or earlier on busy days on a first come, first served basis. Because of the limited number of tourists, people often go there early and you may miss it if arriving there too late.
There are two tour groups, each of 60 people, being allowed to access to the auction. The first is admitted between 5.25 a.m. and 5.50 a.m. and the latter is between 5.50 a.m. and 6.15 a.m.
During the auction, you must stand behind in a tourist-designated area. You are allowed to take photos and videos but not permitted to use flash photography. Follow the guide’s instructions at all times or do not interfere with business actions in any other way.
Make sure you check the calendar in advance. It is usually closed on Sundays and public holidays and Wednesdays.
There are rules to abide
Photo by Giacomo Frullani
Most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place in the inner market, and retail shops and restaurants catering to the public are all in the outer market. If you miss a chance to see the tuna auction in the early morning, return it at 9 a.m. to catch a bit of market auction.
The market is very crowded, so you should avoid blocking traffic and bring large bags or suitcases into the market. Do not bring small children or pets and do not smoke and touch anything at the market. You also must wear appropriate shoes; sandals, high heels, and flip-flops are not allowed.
Have sushi for breakfast at the Fish Market
Photo by George Alexander Ishida Newman
A visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market is not complete without having sushi for breakfast. The outer market has a lot of best sushi restaurants, and you should not forget to try the food at Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi. The long queues in front of the restaurants are an evidence for its fame and high-quality sushi. They do not mind waiting for 2 or 3 hours just to eat sushi made by experienced chefs with fresh fishes taken from the Fish Market. They offer a variety of seafood in different sets such as mackerel, tuna, and eel.
How to get there
Photo by Long Thai
From Tokyo Station
Take the Marunouchi Subway Line from Tokyo to Ginza (3 minutes) and transfer to the Hibiya Subway Line to get to Tsukiji Station (3 minutes).
From Shinjuku Station
Take the Oedo Subway Line directly from Shinjuku Station to Tsukiji Shijo Station. The one-way trip takes 20 minutes.
The 81-year-old Tsukiji is not only the place for selling and buying seafood, vegetables, and fruits but also contains many cultural values. Your time is running out as it is planned to be relocated in November. For that reason, you should make a plan and visit it as soon as possible.