Attractions

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Travel Guide

Introduction

Handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day, Tsukiji Fish Market, officially named Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, is the largest fish wholesale market for fish, meat, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. Tsukiji Fish Market is expected to move to a new site in Toyosu in Autumn 2016.

The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Fish Market a major tourist attractions. In fact, the numbers of visitors have increased so much over recent years, that they have become a problem to the course of business, as the aging market's infrastructure was not anticipated to serve as a tourist spot.

Tsukiji Fish Market consists of an inner market (jonai-shijo) where approximately 900 licensed wholesale dealers operate small stalls and the famous tuna auctions are taking place, and an outer market (jogai-shijo) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, seafood and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. Most of the shops in the outer market close by the early afternoon, and in the inner market even earlier. A few restaurants are also found in the inner market. While the inner market has restricted access to visitors, the outer market, restaurants and associated restaurant supply stores remain a major tourist attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors.

It is said that the best time to vitis the market is early morning before 10am for breakfast.

Operations

The market opens most mornings (except Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays) at 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products by ship, truck and plane from all over the world. Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyosha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price.

The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gyosha) who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-hocho, maguro-bocho, or hancho-hocho.

The market is the busiest between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m., and the activity declines significantly afterward. Many shops start to close around 11:00 a.m., and the market closes for cleaning around 1:00 p.m. Tourists may visit the market daily between 5 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. and watch the proceedings from a designated area, except during periods when it is closed to the public

History

The first market in Tokyo was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Edo period to provide food for Edo castle (nowadays Tokyo). Tokugawa Ieyasu invited fishermen from Tsukuda, Osaka to Edo to provide fish for the castle. Fish not bought by the castle was sold near the Nihonbashi bridge, at a market called uogashi (literally, "fish quay") which was one of many specialized wholesale markets that lined the canals of Edo (as Tokyo was known until the 1870s).

In August 1918, following the so-called "Rice Riots" (Kome Sodo), which broke out in over 100 cities and towns in protest against food shortages and the speculative practices of wholesalers, the Japanese government was forced to create new institutions for the distribution of foodstuffs, especially in urban areas. A Central Wholesale Market Law was established in March 1923.

The Great Kanto earthquake on September 1, 1923, devastated much of central Tokyo, including the Nihonbashi fish market. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the market was relocated to the Tsukiji district and, after the construction of a modern market facility was completed in 1935, the fish market began operations under the provisions of the 1923 Central Wholesale Market Law. Three major markets in Tsukiji, Kanda, and Koto began operating in 1935. Smaller branch markets were established in Ebara, Toshima, and Adachi, and elsewhere. At present, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's system of wholesale markets includes more than a dozen major and branch markets, handling seafood, produce, meat, and cut flowers.

Inner Market - Tsukiji Fish Market Outer Market - Tsukiji Fish Market Monzeki Street - Tsukiji Fish Market
Inner Market Outer Market Monzeki Street
 
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Travel Advice

Rules to visit the market

In order to avoid interference with business, different rules should be followed when visiting the different areas of the market:

Visiting the inner market (wholesale area)

The wholesale area consists of hundreds of small stands in a large, crowded hall, where buyers and sellers hurry along narrow lanes with their carts and trucks. It is an exciting area for tourists to view and photograph the fish and the action, but it is also an area where tourists are likely to interfere with the professionals at work.

Consequently, in order to prevent accidents and interference with business, tourists are not allowed into the wholesale area before 9am, when the peak of the business activities take place. Even when visiting after 9am, tourists are asked to refrain from bringing any luggage into the market and to be constantly alert of what is happening around them to avoid blocking traffic. After your visit to the Tuna auction observation area, you can enjoy some food and refreshments as well as shopping up till 9am at Uogashi Yokocho which is close to wholesale area.

Visiting the outer market

Instead of visiting the inner market, tourists are encouraged to visit Tsukiji's outer market, which is located just adjacent to the inner market and caters to the public. The outer market consists of a few blocks of small retail shops and restaurants crowded along narrow lanes. Here you can find all sorts of food related goods, knives and fresh seafood and produce for sale in smaller (than wholesale) portions.

A visit to Tsukiji Fish Market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the local restaurants. There are restaurants both in the inner and outer market area, which are typically open from 5:00 in the morning to around noon or early afternoon.

Tsukiji Fish Market is a site where serious business is conducted, the activities seen here are not put on for show, it is important for visitors not to interfere with the action by adhering to the following additional rules:

Do not enter areas restricted to authorized personnel! 
Do not obstruct traffic! 
Do not bring large bags or suitcases into the market! 
Do not enter the market in high heeled shoes or sandals! 
Do not bring babies, small children, strolls or pets! 
Do not smoke in the market! 
Do not touch anything! 

Tuna Auction

People who would like to watch the early morning Tuna auction from the special observation area are requested to obtain a reservation which can be obtained from the Osakana-Fukyu-Center (The Fish Information Center). People who do not have a reservation are not permitted to enter the Tuna auction obervation area. Here is rules to watch tuna auction.

Rules for the Tuna Auction:

Number of Visitors: up to 120 visitors per day (On a first-come, first-served basis. No reservation in advance.)
Visitors Registration:
(1) Registration Place: 1st Floor of Osakana-Fukyu-Center (The Fish Information Center) which is by the Kachidoki Bridge entrance.
(2) Registration Time: From 5:00AM.
Tour Times:
Visitors are divided up into two groups of 60 according to their order of arrival. 
(1) First group visits the tuna auction area from 5:25AM to 5:50AM.
(2) Second group visits the area from 5:50AM to 6:15AM.

On busy days, visitors start lining up long before 5am, and the maximum number is likely to be exceeded, in which case later arriving visitors will not be able to see the auction. Successful applicants will be able to view the auction from a designated visitor area. It is not allowed to view the auction from anywhere else or to use flash photography or to interfere with the business action in any other way.

For details, please see Guidance for visiting the auction observation area at Tsukiji Fish Market at official site of Tsukiji Fish Market.

TEL: 03-3547-8011 (Tsukiji Fish Market Management Section)

Sightseeing

- Not only sushi or sashimi, Tsukiji Fresh Market offers gyudon (beef bowl), tempura and any other delicious food. Not so many people know, Tsukiji Fresh Market is regarded as the largest concentrated district of gyudon stores in Japan. Visitors can find many historical, cheap and delicious gyudon stalls. Yoshinoya, the largest beef bowl chain, was established in 1899 and took up a more permanent residence by the Tsukiji Fish Market in 1923. The first store of Yoshinoya is still operating in the market.

- Golden Academy Nonprofit Organization offers a various Inner Market guide tours in English. Please the office site for details.

 
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Visit

Address 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Inner Market)
4-10-16 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Outer Market)
Phone 03-3541-9466
Admission Free  
Hours Free time  
Closed Inner Market: Sundays, Holidays and some Wednesdays.
Outer Market: Open 7 Days a Week
Required Time 30 minutes
Getting There By Train (Outer Market)
1 minute walk from Tsukiji-jogai Station on subway Oedo Line.
1 minute walk from Tsukiji Station on subway Hibiya Line.
5 minutes walk from Higashi-ginza Station on subway Hibiya Line or Asakusa Line.

By Car
Take Shuto Expressway to the Shiodome exit. It is approximately 5 minutes from exit.
Parking No parking available
 
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