The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest fish market in Japan. Tsukiji sells more than 670,000 ton or 500 billion yen of seafood a year. The market has been operating since 1935 and is located next to Tokyo’s vegetable market.
The market has in the past had difficulties with tourists. Officials enforced a month long ban of tourists to the pre dawn auctions in early 2009. Tourist numbers became a bit of a problem with many people getting in the way of the auctions. The market workers were concerned about people touching the precious fish, not respecting the workers, interrupting trading and going crazy with flash photography. The ban was a trial run and expired on the 19th of January 2009.
The market is off limits to tourists before 9:00 am but 120 visitors are allowed to visit the tuna auctions each day starting at 5:20 am. To visit the tuna auction you need to visit the Fish Information Centre on the morning of your planned visit. It opens at 5:00 am and the first 120 people are admitted to the auction. If you are one of the unlucky ones, please accept disappointment respectfully as tourist access is still probationary. As for the lucky ones please respect the workers and do not get in the way of the auction. Under no circumstances touch the tuna, which in many cases are worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars each.
The Fish Information Centre at the Kachidoki Gate is the best place to start your visit to the market, as well as being the place to get entry to the tuna auctions there is plenty of information on how to visit the market and learn what parts are accessible to the visitor.
Another popular destination for visitors is found on the north edge of the market. Here you will find a series of small streets and lanes known as the Outside Market. The Outside Market features a variety of shops and restaurants selling direct to the consumer. This area is not considered part of the actual fish market, so there is no restriction on visiting this area. Tourists are actively encouraged to visit this area at any time of the day.
You will find some of the freshest seafood. There are some great little seafood restaurants and holes in the wall in the vicinity so it’s the perfect place to visit around meal time. Whether it is fresh seafood, sushi, sashimi or a beautiful crab meal, there is something for all seafood buffs, and best of all at exceptionally reasonable prices and super fresh.
The market is located in Tsukiji, a small strip of reclaimed land between Ginza and the waterfront. Shiodome located to the south west. The market is open most days but not on a Sunday, plus there are a few holidays and two other days a month when the market doesn’t open. Check the market’s websites for more information.
The market is easy to get to, with the rail being the easiest option for most as it is just a short walk from Tsukiji Shijo Subway Station serviced by the Oedo Line (station E-18) using the A1 exit.
The Tsukiji Station which is serviced by the Hibiya Line (station H-10) about a ten minute walk to the market as is the Higashi Ginza Subway which is serviced by the Asakusa Line (station A-11) using exit no. 6 and Hibiya Line (station H-09).
There are a few holidays and two days a month when the market doesn’t open. Check the market’s websites for more information at http://www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/english/ or http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm