The Tsukiji Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.
It is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo, quite close to the Ginza shopping district. While the inner wholesale market has restricted access to visitors, the outer retail market and restaurants remain a major tourist attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors….like me!
The many kinds of fresh fish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere of fork lifts, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around make Tsukiji Market a major tourist attraction. In fact, the number of visitors has increased so much over recent years, that they have become a problem to the regular course of business. Therefore, even though spectators are allowed to attend the auction at 5 am every day, only the first 100 people are allowed in. My friend Phil attempted to attend and arrived at 4:30 am, only to be turned away. Dustin and I decided to skip the auction and tour the market on our own later in the morning the day after the marathon, rather than get up that early only to risk not getting in anyways! The rest of the market is open at 9 am until 2 pm, though most sources recommend getting there close to 9 am. If you get there later in the day, most stalls will be cleaning up by then.
If you are vegetarian, you might want to skip this post- there are lots of raw fish pictures. But if you don’t mind it, the market is a fascinating place.
It was really fun to wander around the market in the morning, checking out all the different types of seafood for sale.
You have to be careful though, as there are men driving forklifts all around you- like crazy fast and wild! They don’t stop for anyone, so just be aware of your surroundings! You also want to be sure to wear shoes that you don’t care about. No sandals are allowed, but I would recommend no high heels either. Your shoes will get dirty and the market definitely has a fishy smell. No surprise, right?
We watched the workers break down enormous tuna with tools like these. They don’t mess around!
The biggest seller at Tsukiji is definitely the tuna, but there is every kind of seafood there. Look at the size of that crab!
You really can’t get any fresher sushi than the restaurants right by the Tsukiji market, so after our tour, we got into queue for some at a place called Daiwa sushi that we had read about in one of our guide books. The sign wasn’t in English, so we had to match up the kanji we found online to the sign.
We also could have probably just gone to any sushi place with a long line- that’s usually a good sign! In fact, the line for Daiwa was almost 2 hours long. People often say that the Japanese love to queue, which seems a bit true. However, they know how to queue and its always organized.
Diawa sushi was worth the wait! It was a fixed price for lunch and there was no explanation of what we were eating, but we just rolled with it. Most of the sushi restaurants near Tsukiji offer a set lunch, so you don’t have to worry too much about an English menu, as long as you don’t have food allergies or aversions.
Japanese cuisine includes more than just sushi, but their sushi definitely is top-notch.
We still had the rest of the day free on Monday to explore Tokyo, but I’m going to save the rest of Monday for another post. I hope you enjoyed a few pictures from the famous Tsukiji Fishmarket! If you have any questions about the market or touring it, please let me know.
Do you like sushi? Seafood in general? When did you first try sushi?
I have some friends who don’t like sushi because they have “got sick” from it, but there’s a big difference between some sushi places in the Midwest and sushi places in Japan. I trust the freshness of sushi in Japan a bit more!
I don’t actually remember when I first tried sushi, but I think it must have been in college- there were definitely no sushi places in my hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin. Sushi is something I began eating later in life, but I’m definitely a fan.