Travel Tokyo: A Trip to the Tsukiji Market

Learning about the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

This place is known to be the largest fish market not only in Japan but all over the world. It has a land area of more than 230,000 square meters with more than 50,000 stalls selling not only fish but other products as well. The best part about this place is that there are a number of shops that sell their products at very low prices. It is a shopper’s delight and a tourist’s dream market.

There are a variety of products being sold at the Tsukiji Market. There are fresh fruits and vegetables which are imported from different parts of Japan. There is also a wide variety of seafood being sold such as live octopus, salmon, mackerel and much more. The most awaited of all are the bluefin tuna being auctioned off every morning. Those fish that weigh more than 100 kg can sell for millions of dollars - these are top of the line tunas being sold in 5-star restaurants all over the country.

They cater not just for resellers of fish but for individuals as well. The Tsukiji Fish market in Tokyo is a must-see and is a popular tourist destination. Everyone that goes to Tokyo must be able to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market at least at a certain time during their trip.

Tsukiji Fish Market Map

Finding the Tsukiji Market is not that difficult, it can be accessed by bus or by train. One way to reach the Tsukiji Market is through the Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo Subway line. The Oedo Subway line could be reached from the Shinjuku Station. Another way to reach the market is through the Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Subway line. Those who will access the area by the JR line can get down at the Shimbashi station and take a 15-minute walk to the market.

Tsukiji Fish Market Opening Hours

The Tsukiji market has made its name all over the world due to the popular tuna auctions being done on a daily basis. A number of individuals go there at dawn (earliest at 5:00 AM) to join the live tuna auctions. However, a number of tourists make it a point to go there at that early time as well, not to bid on the fish, but to watch and enjoy the event. 

Registration usually begins as early as 4:30 AM and is located at the Kachidoki Gate Information Center. There is a limitation, however, on the number of individuals they allow per day with a maximum of 120 people. For a tourist planning to go on a side trip to the Tsukiji Market, it might be a good idea to check their website before going. There are times of the week when public access is not allowed. An important reminder – people line up as early as 3:00 AM and not all in line can get in.

Furthermore, it might be a good idea to start exploring and shopping early. Since all the stores sell fresh fish caught that day, shoppers prefer the earliest time to buy the freshest of fish. So, most stores will probably close down before lunch time. The best experience is to start shopping around 6:00 AM and finish by 9:00 AM because these are the times when the finest catch is still available.

On top of this, it is a good thing to remember that since this place is over 200,000 square meters big it will take hours to see all that there is to see.  Furthermore, there is an “inner Tsukiji” that sells all the wet stuff and an “outer Tsukiji” that sells most dry products – both of which needs to be explored. It might be a good idea to start early to maximize the visit.

Tsukiji Fish Market Relocation: A bigger Venue for the Olympics 2020

Original Tsukiji Fish Market Closing

The Tsukiji Market has been in the industry for more than 20 generations. For that length of time, they had made a name so famous, to the point that travelers from all over the world make it a point to take the time to visit. It is the largest of its kind in the world, offering up not only the freshest of products but an unforgettable experience to cherish.

However, late last year, an announcement has been made that the famous 230,000 square meter market will finally be in their last year. They have announced closure to favor a newer, bigger venue in some other part of Tokyo. Some of the investors have indicated that this is done to accommodate world travelers before and after the 2020 Olympics which will be held in Japan.

The new Tsukiji Fish market is planned to be moved to the man-made island in Tokyo known as Toyosu. It is an island originally created in the early ‘30s and has been expanded and enlarged since then. There are yet to be discussions on what is going to be built on the original location of the Tsukiji Market.

There had been reports in many media outlets in the world that most of the business owners in the market are reluctant to make the move. This is because of the possibility that the Tsukiji Market will lose its identity once it moves to a new location. Decade old stores will lose its rustic look. Stores that have been passed down from generation and generation of family members will lose all precious memories they have formed over the years. On the positive aspect of this, a new location will bring about new traditions and new memories to be passed on for generations to come. A smart move to make could bring about further success in the future.

Tsukiji Fish Market Move Delay

Toyosu seems to be a good spot to build the new Tsukiji Fish Market on. In fact, the new establishment is near completion and construction has been started as soon as the move was announced in 2016. The original date of official closure of the original Tsukiji Market was in November of 2016. Now almost five months delayed, the move seems to have been postponed indefinitely with no discussions on the official date of closure.

According to reports, the main issue that has caused the delay is the toxicity of soil found in Toyosu. There had been studies that this toxicity has been caused by a former coal power plant at the site of the new Tsukiji Market. Not only does the move make it dangerous for traders and visitors alike, the move will also make the market a bit out of way or less accessible for most tourists.

The governor of Tokyo has indicated that it might take a minimum of a year to ensure that the soil has been treated to be safe for use. From the original plan of November 2016, the new date of the move has been rumored to be winter of 2017 or spring of 2018. This means that the new Tsukiji market might be expected in the December of 2017 or April of 2018.  Now, there is an ongoing discussion of completely putting a halt to the move which seems to be great news not only for the store owners but for tourists as well.

More than Just Selling Fish: Tsukiji Market as a Tourist Destination

Must Eat: Tsukiji Fish Market Sushi

The Tsukiji fish market sells delicious fresh fish. A lot of travel blogs have indicated that a trip to this place always calls for a sushi breakfast. Since there are thousands of fish vendors inside, expect that there are hundreds of sushi stalls in the area. However, most of them are good but who wouldn’t like the best?

Tsukiji insiders claim that the best sushi counters are found near the wholesale fruit and vegetable market. These stores include the Sushi Dai and the Daiwa Zushi. The normal price range of a good cut of sushi ranges from 350 to 800 yen. The best seller and a very important must try would be the fatty tuna or the chu toro.

The Sushi Dai is the most famous store in all of the Tsukiji area, it has been featured in a number of international magazines. Visiting this place needs time because the lines are absolutely long. It is a small store that could accommodate only a handful of persons at a time, but people are all willing to wait. Visitors take the time to wait in line to get a taste of the best restaurant in all of Japan.

For a visitor looking for new places to see, it might be a good idea to look for the Daiwa Zushi. This is the second most popular place to eat sushi in all of the Tsukiji Market. Nigiri, miso soup, and maki is the most favorite set in all of their menus. Another popular sushi place in the area is the Kagura. It is found hidden at the back of the outer market but many people still take the time to look for this hidden gem. Aburi, Nigiri, akamutsu, and sake – a popular set that costs around 2,700 Yen.

Must See: Tsukiji Fish Market Tour

The cool thing about the Tsukiji Fish market is that it is so large and popular that there are guided tours available. There are two parts to the tour: The inner market tour and the outer market tour together would take about two hours. The tour usually starts with the inner market tour involves a visit to the auction site, the shipping site of the seafood, the restaurants, and other shops. 

The second part of the tour includes the outer market tour where the visitors can go around the area, try out some snacks and shop for souvenirs. There are roughly 400 shops and restaurants in the outer Tsukiji market. The sad thing about this is that the outer market will not be included in the move. Only the inner Tsukiji market will be moving to Toyosu.

Must Find: Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurants

A majority of the restaurants in the area are sushi stalls and shops. There are restaurants that exhibit their art of serving seafood. There are seafood hotpots that are best during the cold months. There are special times of the year when seasonal fruits, vegetables, and seafood are available. There are places for dessert and drinks. There are cafes available for those who went to the market very early. The Tsukiji market can serve almost anything an individual can think of when it comes to Japanese seafood.

There are events being held in the market. For instance, the International Day of Celebrating Tempura comes every January of the year. Seafood hotpots are the best during the coldest month of February. The month of March is a great time for seafood because there is certain seasonal food available only at this time. This includes clams, amberjacks, and more.