Tsukiji Fish Market
A tourist spot it ain’t but this only adds to its fishy charm.
- Important: Tsukiji Fish Market (inner) moved to Toyosu, Tokyo, in Oct. 2108. Restaurants and shops in the Tsukiji outer market are still open and will continue to be open.
As a visitor to Tsukiji Fish Market, you’ll feel like a nuisance, but it’s worth it to witness the hyper-efficient workings of this fishing industry HQ right in the heart of Tokyo. Motorized pallet trucks whizz by carrying mysterious frozen loads — tourists usually end up sidestepping into buckets of wriggling marine life to get out of the way in time. Stop by one of the restaurants in and around the market for some of the freshest fish you’ll ever taste.
Tsukiji is made up of an inner and outer market. The inner market is the one which has uprooted to Toyosu, Tokyo, as of Oct. 6, 2018, leaving behind a 83-year-old legacy.
If you head to Toyosu, you can still experience the inner market and wholesale area where the main business of buying and selling goes down but be wary of areas that are off-limits to tourists. The wholesale area is open to visitors from 9 a.m.. and you can walk around — as inconspicuously as you can — watching the fishmongers slicing and dicing away. Seemingly the entire ocean turns up for sale so it’s a great place to pick up some of the more interesting marine life (you’ll figure out how to eat it later.)
The outer market is still located as it always has been in Tsukiji. It is more relaxed, made up of a small area of restaurants and shops selling food and other goods. Tsukiji is good for knives so if you’re in the market for a scarily sharp blade this is where you’ll find one. It’s extremely important that you stop for a fresh sushi breakfast or brunch while you’re here. There are rows of restaurants lining the narrow streets; Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa are the most popular but for non-connoisseurs, anywhere else is just as good. Try a standard set, order piece by piece of ask for omakase (chef’s choice).
The tuna auction is a fantastic chance to watch how Tokyo’s biggest tuna exchanges hands; numbers are yelled out and hats are raised in the air in a seemingly random way as traders barter over really expensive fish. To watch the auction is somewhat complicated; you’ll have to start queueing at the brilliantly-named Fish Information Center from around 3 a.m. to be admitted into one of two auctions starting at 5 a.m. Only 60 people are allowed in each time, so if you don’t turn up early enough you’ll have to think of something else to do until sunrise.
Along the Sumida river, Tsukiji is located close to the historic district of Asakusa, the sumo town of Ryogoku and the Tokyo Skytree. Start with the market in the morning and spend the rest of the day in this part of town. Make sure to check the market calendar for opening times and dates before you go.