Early morning business at the world’s largest seafood market is a fascinating insight into Japanese cuisine, with outstanding sushi restaurants.
Life at Tsukiji Fish market starts early. At 3 a.m. each morning, the first trucks and lorries start to arrive, bringing in the night’s catch and seafood from all over the world. Everything from seaweed and huge tuna to caviar is bought and sold here. Bidding starts just after 5 am and two hours later, the buyers begin to leave the market with their goods. By 8 am most of the business is concluded and Tsukiji relaxes for another day.
Tsukiji Fish Market on the waterfront in Chuo District, central Tokyo, started life like many other small markets common throughout Asia, but it has grown with the soaring population and is now one of the largest fish markets in the world.
Every day, the tuna auction draws crowds of visitors to watch as buyers and sellers negotiate their way through a brisk and chaotic frenzy of activity to agree prices, inspect samples and carve away their portion of the tuna with long knives and saws.
Much of the fish doesn’t travel very far at all from the auction. It goes straight to the shops inside the market where the fish is prepared for retail or restaurants.
When the trading has subsided, head to the nearby restaurants for some of the freshest sushi in the world or to buy kitchen supplies at the Outer Market shops. Or enter the Inner Market, where every imaginable type of seafood is sold. Start early and be prepared for the pungent smell of fish!
The beauty of Tsukiji is that it’s a working, hectic market first and a tourist attraction second. This does mean, though, that there are a few rules that visitors need to be aware of: children, pets, sandals, high heels, suitcases and large bags are not allowed. There’s no smoking, no touching, and most importantly, no getting in the way of people conducting business. There’s no entrance fee to the market, but a trip to the Fish Information Center at Kachidoki Gate will let you reserve one of the limited daily visitor spots at the famous tuna auction.