Tsukiji Central Fish Market
Good for: seeing a lot of scary looking, All tourists
Not good for: reasonably priced food, sleepyhead, small kids
- 5-2 Tsukiji Chūō-ku
- tel, info: 03 3541 2640
- early morning, closed 2nd & 4th Wed of most months, Sun & public holidays
Lonely Planet review for Tsukiji Central Fish Market
If it lives in the sea, it's probably for sale in the Central Fish Market, where acres and acres of fish and fish products pass hands in a lively, almost chaotic atmosphere. Everything is allotted its own area, and a quick scan of the loading docks will reveal mountains of octopus, rows of giant tuna, endless varieties of shellfish and tanks upon tanks of live exotic fish.
About 2246 tonnes of fish, worth over 1.8 billion yen (US$15.5 million), are sold here daily; that's 615,409 tonnes of fish worth some US$4.25 billion a year. It's not unheard of for a single tuna to fetch an incredible around ¥20 million!
The auctions are not officially open to the general public, but if you are of a mind to go (trust us - it's worth it!), you have to be there around 05:00 to see the action. Afterwards, you are free to visit the wholesalers market, and wander around the seemingly endless rows of fishmongers.
The stalls are set up to sell directly to restaurants, retail stores and other commercial enterprises. In fact, some of the hundreds of merchants have been here for more than 20 generations! The hustle and bustle can be intoxicating, and as long as you're there before 08:00, some kind of push and pull will doubtless be going on. Keep in mind however that the market shuts completely by 13:00 for cleaning. Although the market is not as odoriferous as you might think, you still don't want to wear your nicest clothing (and especially not your best shoes).
Tradition has it that you should finish your visit here with a sushi breakfast. Daiwa Sushi is within the market itself and gathers long, long lines.
Between the Central Fish Market and the Outer Market is Namiyoke-jinja, the Shintō shrine where wholesalers and middlemen come to pray before work. Highlights are the giant gold parade masks used for the lion dance, and the dragon-shaped taps over the purification basins.
If you've arrived too late to see the fish auctions, or maybe you just can't stand the thought of dead sea creatures, we can almost guarantee you will find something of interest in Tsukiji's Outer Market. With that said, if you hate food in general, well, there is not much we can do to help you.
The Outer Market is neither as famous nor as breathtakingly busy as its inner counterpart. But that is usually a blessing, given that it allows you the time you need to browse all kinds of seafood (naturally) and produce, noodle shops, tiny cafés and cooking supply shops. In addition, you'll also find boots, baubles, baskets, plates, picks (of the tooth variety) and pottery, all at reasonable prices.
It can be quite an education to see how those Japanese foods you've always loved are actually made, and to learn what all those tiny bowls and plates are used for. In short, the Tsukiji Outer Market is a one-stop shop for anything you need to prepare and serve that next great Japanese meal. Be sure to first check your country's import restrictions if you plan to take any food products out of the country.