While small, local produce markets are common in Asian countries, Tsukiji Market in central Tokyo has grown with the city’s population to become one of the world’s largest fish markets. It features excellent fresh seafood and produce for retail purchase as well as a fascinating commercial tuna auction.
With expansive growth and increased tourist popularity, the market can get hectic. Rather than closing its doors to tourists, management has established rather strict rules to maintain order. Before you head to the site, be aware that children and pets, sandals and high heels, and suitcases and large bags are not allowed. Once on the site, don’t smoke, don’t touch anything, and most importantly, don’t get in the way of people conducting business.
However, within these rules you will still find plenty that you can do. Register at the Fish Information Center at Kachidoki Gate in the early morning for one of the limited daily spots to observe the tuna auction from a designated visitor area. Buyers and sellers inspect samples, negotiate prices, carve off portions and haul goods away in a brisk, chaotic and loud frenzy of activity.
When trading subsides, enter the restricted Inner Market where thousands of tons of seafood are sold daily not just fish, but every variety of marine animal along with seaweed, a popular Japanese treat. Take plenty of non-flash photos. Be prepared for the intense smell of fish!
Visit Outer Market shops to purchase fresh food and kitchen supplies. Several restaurants offer the world’s freshest sushi starting as early as 5 a.m. Shops close early as well, many before midday, so be sure to make Tsukiji your first activity of the day. The market has no entrance fee and is open daily except Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays.
The city plans to relocate at least part of the market to address overcrowding, so visit soon before the experience changes dramatically. The market is located in Chuo district above Tsukijishijo station on the Oedo subway line. It’s also just 10 minutes from Tsukiji station on Hibiya subway line.