Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market | Ginza, Tokyo
Is Tsukiji Fish Market moving? If not, what are the hours? Any good sushi here? Find out more. :)
About Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Market (築地市場) is a wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in Tokyo. This market is the largest of its kind in the world and handles about approximately 2,000,000 kg of marine products each day! Imagine the sheer number of shops and restaurants it distributes across Japan, Asia and beyond. It is definitely one busy market in the morning.
Is Tsukiji Fish Market Moving?
If you heard the news, Tsukiji Fish Market was originally scheduled to move in November 2016. However due to ballooned cost and environmental issues at the new site, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has delayed the market’s move to Toyosu indefinitely. So visit this tourist hot spot while you still can! Currently, the market is still at its 81-year-old site in Tsukiji, Central Tokyo and near to upmarket Ginza.
Start your day very early at Tsukiji Fish market and witness an exciting tuna auction! Buyers bid for fresh tuna early in the morning. The auction typically starts at 5:20 am and ends around 10 am.
What time should you reach?
Registration begins at 5 am at a first-come, first-serve basis. It will be closed when the maximum capacity of 120 visitors is reached before 5 am. Usually there are many “kiasu” tourists who will arrive way before 5 am, so try to reach Tsukiji Fish Market around 3 am – 4 am to guarantee a spot.
What time will you start the tour?
People who have registered will be split into two sessions of 60 people each: 5:25 am to 5:50 am, and 5:50 am to 6:15 am. So be prepared to wait 2 hours for a 25 minute session.
During the Auction
Before auction, buyers will check the tuna’s quality using their tools and fingers. Then the auctioneer rings the bell to start the auction. Buyers signal to show their offered price, and seller mirrors back the hand sign to show the current highest bid. Catch the fast-speaking auctioneer sprouting industry jargon that even native speakers having difficulty understanding. Auctions move from the smallest to the largest fish, with some sessions ending merely in seconds.
As far as I know, you can only get there during the wee hours by taxi or private car. Ask the driver to bring you to Osakana Fukyū Center おさかな普及センター (Fish Information Center, GPS Coordinates: 35.663602, 139.773467). It’s located at Tsukiji Fish Market’s Kachidoki Gate 勝どき門 (Kachidoki Mon), refer to market map below.
p.s. We didn’t go to the auction considering the early hours, long wait and cost to get there. >.<
Getting around Tsukiji Fish Market
Photo Credit: www.japan-guide.com/e/e3021.html
If you are looking at the above map along with google map, rotate this map 180 degrees.
The market reminded me of our own Pasir Panjang wholesale market, except it was seafood galore at Tsukiji Fish Market. Although the map said not to enter certain areas before 10 am, we were at the market about 8:30am. Even then, many tourists were already at Tsukiji Fish Market.
A Day in Tsukiji Fish Market
Technically the market “starts work” at 5 pm, receiving fresh shipments from all over the world until wee hours. Then from 3 am to 6+ am, it’s the buzz around tuna auction. After the auction, around 7 am, the middlemen bring their purchases from the auction to their stalls and sell them to purchasers from retail shops, restaurants, etc.
At 8 am, these retail purchasers would have loaded and be on their way back to their shops in town. That explained why the activity seemed tapered down and some shops closed when we reached around 8:30am. Nevertheless, it’s still crowded and busy between 8 am and 10 am. From 11 am to 1 pm, the middlemen starts to clean their stalls and closed for the day.
Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market
To be honest, the place is so big and confusing, that the best thing to do is to just walk around and explore. I don’t think we entered the wholesale area because tourist are not allowed before 10 am. We were so lost that we didn’t know where we were!
However, I am quite sure we entered via the off limits area that’s very near to Tsukiji-Shijo Exit A1. We and some other tourists walked across a huge loading bay meant for their goods vehicles. Oops! Even though we were vigilant to get out of traffic’s way, it was still dangerous. Please don’t make the same mistake.
Since the market is primarily still a place for business, try not to interfere with business. Be alert to your surroundings and avoid blocking the traffic. Look out for the mini truck (photo above) meandering in the small alleys of the market. Also, avoid bringing any luggage to the market.
Outer Market and Restaurants
If you like to buy knives, merchandise or fresh produce in portions smaller than wholesale quantity, you can head to the outer market. This area, comprising of small retail shops and restaurants, typically opens from 5 am to 2 pm.
One of the recommended things to do at Tsukiji Fish Market is to have a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of its restaurants. Find these restaurants in the inner and outer markets. They’re usually opened from 5:00 am to noon or early afternoon.
We didn’t eat at Tsukiji Fish Market because we had our fresh seafood at Sankaku Fish Market, Hokkaido. Compared to Sankaku, Tsukiji is way more crowded and expensive.
Nevertheless, if Tokyo is your only stop, you should try and taste the oozing freshness at Tsukiji Fish Market. The more popular sashimi restaurants are in the inner alleys near to the main entrance. In particular, Sushi Dai (寿司大) is the most popular one and you might need to wait for 2 to 3 hours. A set of 10 sushi pieces and one roll should cost you about ¥3,900 (S$49). You can also go for Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) if the queue at Sushi Dai is too long.
Enjoy your food and have fun at Tsukiji Fish Market!
- Opening Hours: Generally 5:00 am to 2:00 pm. Opened all mornings except for Sunday, PH and some Wednesdays.
- Getting here:
- Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Oedo Subway Line): We exited from Exit A1 and turn right. In a few steps, we saw a gate for vehicles to drive in and out of the market. However, you might want to walk a bit further to right into the market. It’s much safer!
- Tsukiji Station (Hibiya Subway Line): 5 minutes walk.
- Shimbashi JR station: 15 minutes walk.