VISITING THE TSUKIJI FISH MARKET IN TOKYO
The Tsukiji fish market is widely known to be the largest fish market in the world, as well as one of the largest markets of any kind, anywhere. No visit to Tokyo is complete without a smelly pre-dawn wandering. Bring your camera and plenty of battery, as the vivid colors and juxtapositions here are amazing. The market is set to move locations in early 2016 so if you want to see it at the current location, be sure to plan your trip soon.
Remember that bar in Star Wars? Yes, the cantina with all the crazy creatures jamming and fighting. The Tsukiji market is something akin to this, except that the characters are soon to be traveling down an esophagus rather than sailing through space. You will see creatures you could never imagine on a plate. They are squirming, spitting, twisting and panting. Bring some Tylenol if you have a soft belly.
5am-1pm; closed Sundays, holidays and the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays every month; the wholesale market is open only after 9am; the “outer market” is free to the public after 5am. Tuna auctions are at 5:25 and 5:50am daily. You’ll need to line up by 3:30 or 4am to secure one of the 60 slots in each group. Even if you miss the early wakeup call, there’s plenty to see and do in the outer market area and remains active throughout the day.
Near Tsukijishijo Station, Toei Oedo Line; the subway won’t run until 6am, so plan on walking or taking an expensive cab to get there early and see the market at its most exciting; of course, we recommend going with friends after a night out in nearby Ginza (save that yen).
Comfortable, soled shoes- preferably raised boots with good traction, as there’s plenty of blood and “stuff” on the floor here. Don’t forget your jacket, especially in winter – heat is minimal.
Tuna auctions are at 5:25 and 5:50am daily; only 60 tourists are allowed in each group, so get there early by taxi or foot; as it’s getting more and more crowded, it’s advisable to get there by 3:30 or 4am to secure a spot.
If you’re looking for a Japanese knife or other kitchen tool, there are a number of small shops in the outer market selling quality goods. Aritsugu is a favorite knife shop of ours. Their knives are all handmade and extremely high quality. Prices are fair and staff are super friendly and speak enough English to help you find what you’re looking for.
Daiwa Sushi is the most famous sushi “shop” here. If the line is not too intimidating, the food does deliver. You’ll need to get in line around 3:30 to 4am (so you’ll have to choose, eating the tuna or watching it being auctioned). I had an amazing breakfast at a place called Tanaka. Great fish and even some bloody good horse sashimi. Additionally, there are lots of small places lining the outer market selling a variety of snacks including sushi bowls, tamago (omelet), and noodles. Look for the crowds or the longer lines for the best spots. Chances are though, anything you eat in the area will be great.
All over the place. Particularly during and directly after the tuna are brought in. Most fish sellers are welcoming to photography, so don’t be shy. Just leave your flash at home or keep it packed up. Nobody likes a paparazzi when they’re trying to concentrate on throwing down 4.5 million yen on a fish.
Jiro: Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Slippery when wet.