Tsukiji Fish Market is the world's largest fish market and it has to be seen to be believed. Here, I'll give you all the details on visiting the market.
Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Vendor © marufish
Tsukiji Fish Market is a huge space filled with vendors selling everything found in the sea – and lots of it. It's located in the Tsukiji District of Tokyo, which is a decent walk south of Ginza and southeast of Shimbashi or Shiodome. It's easily paired with a visit to Ginza, Hama Rikyu Gardens or a trip up the Sumida-gawa River on one of the tourist boats. You can visit most of the market without special permission or a guide. Here's what you need to know to visit the market.
Hours of Operation/When Should You Go?
- The market is usually closed on Wednesday and Sunday. On the days the market is open, there is usually something going on from 3am until noon. However, tourists are not allowed to enter the inner market before 11am. And, by 11am, most of the action has finished in the inner market. But, you can usually see a few stalls still selling fish after 11am. But, of course, you can visit the outer market at any time and there’s plenty to see there. A good time to visit Tsukiji Fish Market is 9am. First, explore the outer market for two hours or so and then dash into the inner market when it opens to tourists at 10am.
If you want to see the famous tuna auction, you'll have to go much earlier (see below). Check the Tsukiji Fish Market English page for this year's opening days (click the Tsukiji Market Calendar link).
How to Get to Tsukiji Fish Market
- To get there, take the Tokyo Oedo subway line to the Tsukiji Ichiba station and exit A1 and you're right there. Because the market is not an official tourist attraction, it's not well marked. You initially enter a covered parking/loading area and then make your way toward the market itself. You can usually just follow the people. If you need to ask someone to point you in the right direction, ask for "Tsukiji Ichiba".
Where Should You Visit in the Market?
- The market is divided into an inner and outer market. When approaching from the subway station, you'll find yourself in the outer market. If you go right, you'll come to a produce area. If you turn left, you'll come to a variety of kitchenware shops and small sushi restaurants. If you continue straight, you'll come to the main part of the market: the inner market. The inner market consists of a semi-circular arrangement of market stalls and lanes. This is where all the seafood is prepared and sold. On the far side of the inner market, in a huge refrigerated hall, you'll find the location of the tuna auction.
Do You Need a Guide for Tsukiji Fish Market?
- You don't need a guide for Tsukiji Fish Market, but it's certainly easier and more relaxing in the company of a good professional guide. However, as noted above, you cannot enter the inner market before 10am, even in the company of a professional guide, so be warned that your guide might be prevented from taking you into the market. My company Chris Rowthorn Tours offers a private walking tour of Tsukiji Fish Market.
Visiting the Tuna Auction
- I don't recommend trying to see the tuna auction. First of all, you have to wake up at around 3.30am to apply and see the auction. Also, tuna are obviously an endangered species. And, the application procedure is a pain in the neck. Finally, you can see large tuna being cut up and sold in the regular parts of the inner market. If I haven't put you off, you can find all the details on the Tsukiji Market Tuna Auction Application Procedure page.
Warning: Tsukiji is a Working Market!
- Tsukiji is bustling, crowded and overpowering at times. Always remember: It's a working market, not a tourist attraction! Despite that, it's gotten super busy with crowds of tourists these days. The floor is slimy and wet, so wear rugged shoes and pants that can get dirty. And look out for those electric carts! I don't recommend bringing small children here – it's actually dangerous for them and they won't enjoy it.
Is Tsukiji Closing?
- Tsukiji Fish Market was scheduled to close in 2016. It was slated to be relocated to a new site in Toyosu (in the Tokyo Bay Area). However, due to issues with pollution in the soil beneath the Toyosu site, the move has been postponed for now and Tsukiji fish market is still open at its normal location. Check back here regularly for the latest developments.
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