The Japan fish market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Located in the Tsukiji neighbourhood in central Tokyo, you wouldn’t expect it to be so close to the posh Ginza district, but just around the corner you can’t really miss it.
One early, early morning in 2008, together with a few people from my hostel, I decided it was a fun idea to go and visit the Tsukiji market to see what all the fuzz was about. This is what we found:
Tsukiji Fish Market Hours: Tuna Auction to Wholesale Area
There are a couple of different parts to the fish market, and they all have different rules:
Tuna Auction (Inner Market)
The most spectacular part, the daily tuna auction, is also the most restricted. The maximum number of visitors is 120 people per day and if you’d like to see it, you have to apply for a spot at the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center, 1st floor) at the Kachidoki Bridge entrance (off Harumi Dori street). Tickets will be given out from 5AM on a first-come, first-serve base (they are free) and most people arrive well before this time, at 4AM or even 3AM.
In two groups of 60 people, you will get special jackets and can see the auction between 5:25AM and 5:50AM (first group) or 5:50AM and 6:15AM.
The rest of the inner market, where the tuna auction is located, is off limits to visitors.
While I personally haven’t visited the tuna auction, here are a few bloggers that did and wrote about their experience: Ever in Transit // Ott’s World // Travel Squire // Tokyo Cheapo // Reflections en Route
If you’re keen on reading more from other bloggers about Tsukiji (not including the tuna auction), then you can find them here: Cultural Xplorer // Leah Travels // Urban Travel Blog // Suitcase and Heels // Bohemian Trails // 2 Foodtrippers // Pack Me To
From 10AM, visitors are allowed to visit the wholesale market. Here you can see hundreds of small stands in a big hall, where people are whizzing by on trolleys and moving, cutting, shouting and preparing the fish to sell. It’s really quite something to see, but you have be alert to not get into the way of the people working here (or you end up with a lemon in your mouth in a box of ice)
If you scroll further down in this article, I’ll show you plenty of photos of all the incredible sea creatures you can spot at this part of the market.
The outer market is located next to the inner market and is aimed at selling to the public. There are plenty of small retail shops and restaurants where you can have the freshest sushi-breakfast you’ll ever have. I can’t remember which restaurant we went to, but honestly, being so fresh, all of the places are good to go!
The restaurants are open from 5AM, so if you arrive early and didn’t get into the tuna auction, you can comfort yourself with super fresh sushi! Yum!
Biggest Japan Fish Market: Enter the World of Tsukiji Tokyo
Before we get into all the practical information for visiting Tsukiji Tokyo, here is a short photo impression of all the curious things I spotted on my two visits to the Tsukiji market in the last years:
IMPORTANT – The Tokyo Tsukiji fish market is a place where people work and where it can be seriously dangerous for you to be in the way of that. Do not enter any restricted areas, stay out of the way of traffic, leave your big bags at home and wear proper shoes (no heels and flip flops!). No smoking, no touching, no flash photography…. just looking! Stay alert and enjoy your visit.
Tsukiji fish market hours:
Tuna Auction – Tickets from 5AM, tour 1 5:25-5:50AM, tour 2 5:50-6:15AM.
Wholesale Market – From 10AM
Outer Market – From 5AM
Make sure to check the opening times of the market first, as it’s not open daily (holidays and most Wednesdays closed). Here you can find the calendar for 2016
Tsukiji Tokyo Location:
5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku
By metro, the closest station is Tsukiji Shijo on the Toei Oedo subway line. If you don’t mind walking a few minutes, you can also arrive at Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway line.
If you are planning to see the tuna auction, you will need to take a taxi, as at that time the metro’s aren’t running yet.
Final Note: the Tsukiji Fish Market is planned to be relocated to another area of the city at the end of 2016, although currently this has been postponed until further notice. If you do however have plans on visiting Tsukiji, perhaps now is the last time to do so in its current form!