No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a trip to Tsukiji Fish Market – but you’ll have to be quick as its penned to be relocating to Toyosu in November 2016.
Once the famed fish market moves to Toyosu it seems tourist access will be ‘regulated’ although no definitive details have yet been released – including whether or not tourists will be allowed to watch the tuna auctions.
If you want to read more about the history of the market and why it is moving, take a look at this article in the Japan Times.
We arrived at the market at about 9am. We decided to give the tuna auction a miss due to the time we would need to set our alarm, and there being no guarantee we would actually get in, given the number of tourists queuing for entry nowadays (only 120 tourists are granted access each morning).
If you intend to visit the tuna auctions then you need to arrive early (we are talking 3am) to be in with a chance of being in the first 120. As public transport does not run at this time, consider staying close to Tsukiji. Accommodation close to the market includes: Com Com Manga Cafe, Tsukiji Business Hotel Ban, and First Inn Kyobashi.
As we approached the building there was a buzz of ‘turret trucks’ carrying boxes of fresh fish to vans waiting to take the fish to various restaurants around the city. Getting to the ‘inner market’ was actually quite a skill due to the amount of ‘truck dodging’ required.
Inside the wholesale area, there were many wholesalers preparing fish for onward sale, as well as buyers perusing the fish to find the best buy.
Having only ever previously eaten either shredded tuna in a can, or tuna steak at a restaurant, I didn’t realise how big tuna fish were – they are HUGE!
I loved wandering around the market watching the wholesalers preparing the fish for sale. A lot of the stalls are family businesses that have been working there for decades so they are experts in their field!
Wandering the many aisles and gazing at the hundreds of varieties of fish on offer was certainly an experience one should not miss!
Just before we left the market we grabbed some fresh sushi for our lunch and sat and ate it at the nearby Hama Rikyu gardens – it was noticeably better quality than the sushi we had previously purchased from the supermarkets.