IMPORTANT UPDATE :
As of October 2018, Tsukiji Market has relocated to a new site and re-opened as Toyosu Market. The hours of the new Toyoso Market are 5:00 am – 5:00 pm. The wholesale market still takes place, however, visitors are not permitted directly onto the floor. Rather than lining up at the crack of dawn for one of the coveted auction tickets, visitors at the new Toyos0 market can watch the auction from an observation deck. Visitors must arrive before 6:30 am in order to observe the unique tuna auction experience. It is expected in the beginning of 2019 that a same-floor observation deck will open to allow visitors to observe the auction even closer, however, this will only open in mid-January, early February 2019.
Each morning thousands of visitors flock to Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. It may sound like an ordinary market on paper but this market is truly one of a kind. Tsukiji Market just happens to be the largest fish market in the world where tourists and wholesalers gather together to view 23 hectares worth of fish and seafood.
From the sushi favorite Bluefin tuna to more exotic creatures of the ocean, Tsukiji Market really does cover it all. With the highest quality fresh catches all in one place, this market is a fantastic way to gain an insight into this gigantic fishing industry. The best part is that after exploring the market, visitors can head to one of the sushi stalls or eateries which offer, quite easily, one of the freshest seafood feasts you will find.
History of Tsukiji Market
The origins of Tsukiji Market actually date back to the beginning of the Edo period when fishermen would bring their catch to the shore to sell to Edo Castle. This was encouraged by the shogunate who invited the fishermen to travel across from Osaka to the city of Edo, which we now know as Tokyo. At this time, the wholesale of fish took place at Nihonbashi Bridge which then developed into an entire market. This market continued to thrive until the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 which saw the market move to its current position in Tsukiji.
Visiting Tsukiji Market
One of the highlights of Tsukiji Market is the Tuna Auctions where restaurant owners gather to bid for the finest Bluefin tuna. This auction is a bustling, frantic event that is well worth watch if you can. As this is first and foremost a serious business event, there is a restriction on the amount of visitors who can watch the auction.
Currently there are only 120 places a day and so there will often be a very long queue. Therefore those who still wish to attend this unique experience will have to arrive by 5:00 in the morning. Head straight to Osakana Fukyu Center where the first 60 guests will be admitted around 5:25 followed by another 60 people just 45 minutes later.
For those who do not wish to wake up that early, the wholesale market opens to the general public from 9:00, where visitors can meander around the narrow lanes and take a look at the wide variety of fish products on offer.
The best way to finish off any trip to Tsjukiji is with a delicious sushi breakfast. There is nowhere better to sample fresh seafood than at the restaurants that surround the market. These eateries select their produce from the market each morning to create beautiful dishes.
Beware that queues here are very long but the general rule is if there’s a long queue of locals then the food is sure to be good. The restaurants open around 5:00 in the morning and usually close by midday or until stocks last. Though the set meals may seem slightly pricey, it will be one breakfast that you certainly won’t forget in a hurry.
Because Tsukiji Market is at the center of Tokyo’s thriving seafood industry, there are strict rules that visitors should abide to in order to respect the important business deals that take place. Luggage, pets, smoking and children are strictly prohibited (check out these options to store your luggage in Tokyo). Carts often zip through the narrow lanes so make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. Guests are also asked not to touch anything and only enter the public areas.
How to Get to Tsukiji Market
Take the Oedo Subway line to Tsukiji Shijo Station which is located directly beneath the market. Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya line is just five minutes away and the JR station Shimbashi is a 15 minute walk.
Please note that the location of the inner market will move to Toyoso at the end of 2017. The outer market and surrounding eateries will remain in Tsukiji.
Entrance Times & Fees
Tuna Auction: Two admittance times at 5:25 and 6:15 in the morning (visitors should arrive early as queues often exceed the permitted amount).
Outer Market: 5:00-14:00
Wholesale Area: From 9:00
The market is closed on Sundays, public holidays and some Wednesdays.
The tuna auction is closed to the general public through December and the first two weeks of January.