Tsukiji Fish Market
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Tsukiji Market Information Centre
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5-2-1 Tsukiji · interesting places nearby
Tsukiji Fish Market information
Tsukiji Fish Market has the distinct honour of being the world's biggest seafood market. 'Japan's kitchen' moves at a frenetic pace as thousands upon thousands of fish are processed, purchased and carted off to different corners of the country. The infamous tuna auction starts at 5am and peters out by 8am, when the day's catch has been purchased by middlemen and sold off to gawking retailers. By 11am the crowds have dwindled and the sprinkler trucks plough through to prep the empty market for tomorrow's sale.
To access the tuna auction, arrive at 4.30am and queue in front of the Fish Information Center (Osakana Fukyū Center) located at the Kachidoki Gate in the northwest corner of the market (when facing the Main Gate, head left, round the block at the second traffic light and head down Harumi-dōri again turning right at the second traffic light). The first 140 individuals will be granted admission to the auction – the first shift of 70 visitors takes place from 5am to 5.40am, the second shift begins at 5.40am and ends at 6.15am. Note that if you plan on arriving around 4.30am, you must take a taxi to the market, as public transport does not start running until around 5am.
If you aren't keen to wake up before dawn, you can indeed show up later in the morning and still get a flavour of the frenetic atmosphere of the other parts of the market. The intermediate wholesalers area opens up to visitors at 9am, while other areas of the market including the Jogai Shijō are open even earlier.
Perhaps the most confusing thing about the market is the rather convoluted calendar. In general, it's closed on Sundays, most Wednesdays and all public holidays – check the website for details, or call directly for the most up-to-date info. Please exercise caution and respect when visiting any part of the market so as not to spoil the opportunity for future visitors to sneak a peek at the goings-on. Large groups, babies and young children are prohibited. And finally, don't fret if you can't watch the auction – the outer market is just as interesting, if not moreso.
For the last few years, rumours have been flying about Tsukiji's uncertain future – it is expected to move to Toyosu at the end of 2012. There has been, however, some grumbling about the market's fate, especially since the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office and not the Tsukiji Market Association. Although the decree is considered definitive, it is possible that things could change – keep your ears open for the latest updates.