The Tsukiji fish market is the largest fish market in Japan. Tsukiji sells more than 670,000 ton or 500 billion Yen of fish a year. The market has been operating since 1935 and is located next to Tokyo’s vegetable market.
The market sells just about any sea creature you can imagine, mackerel, cuttlefish, salmon, tuna, shell fish, shrimp, crab even seaweed. octopus and sea urchin. If it lives in the sea or in water there’s a pretty decent chance you could buy it here. You will need to get up early to get the best catch, the market is best visited at about 5 am as the bidding doesn’t last long, with the market closing by about mid day.
Officials enforced a month long ban of tourists to the pre dawn auctions in early 2009. This was due to the tourists getting in the way of the auctions and generally annoying the market workers by taking too much flash photography and touching the fish. The ban was a trial run and expired on the 19th of January 2009.
Today new restrictions have been placed on visiting the tuna auctions with only 120 people allowed entry to the auction every day. The rest of the market is off limits to tourists before 9:00am. When arriving at the market, the best place to start would be at the Kachidoki Gate where the Fish Information Centre is located. It’s here where you can find out what parts of the market are ok to visit and where you gain access to the tuna auctions. The Fish Information Centre opens at 5:00am and the earlier you arrive the better your chance is of accessing the auction. If you do get to the market, please try not to make a nuisance of yourself.
On the north edge of the market, there is a small section of streets known as the outside market. Here a large variety of shops and restaurants sell their goods direct to the consumer. This area is not considered part of the 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.
Some of the freshest seafood can be eaten at one of the many seafood restaurants in the vicinity. Whether it is fresh seafood on sushi or Sashimi or a beautiful crab meal, there is something for all seafood buffs, many at exceptionally reasonable prices.
The market is easy to get to, the rail is the easiest way, being just a short walk from Tsukji Shijo Subway Station (E18) which is on the Oedo Line using exit A1. You can also get there with a 10 minute walk by using the Tsukiji Subway station (H10) on the Hibiya line, use exit 1. If you are close to the Hibiya Asakusa line get off at Higashi Ginza Subway (H10-A11) for a 10 minute walk from exit 6. The Kachidoki Gate and outside market are located along Harumi Street, not far from the Tsukiji 4 Chome intersection.
The market is located in Tsukiji, a small strip of reclaimed land between Ginza and the waterfront, with Shiodome located to the South West. The market is open most days except Sunday.
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