You are planning your trip to Japan and one of the locations in Tokyo that you want to visit is the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Excellent choice as this is the place to visit if you are a sushi connoisseur.
But unlike many locations throughout Tokyo that you want to visit anytime during the day, the Tsukiji Fish Market is the only place that you want to get there before 5:30 a.m.
I know, some may be shocked that I mention this but 5:30 a.m. is when a lot of things start at the fish market and with this travel guide, I want to explain why.
There are Two Parts of the Market
This is important to know. Jonai-Shijo (The Inner Market) is where the wholesale market is located and around 900 licensed wholesale dealers operate small stalls and where the auctions take place. These close earlier.
Jogai-shijo (outer market) is a mixture of whole sale retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries and where you will find many of the sushi restaurants. These close by early afternoon.
The Inner Market (Jonai-Shijo)
You want to see the auction which opens at 5:20 a.m. Know that only bids can be made by licensed participants and there are rules (click here for English).
The rules are as follows:
120 visitors to the auction per day (first-come, first-served basis) and there are no reservations.
This means that if you want a chance, you are wanting to get here at 2:00-3:00 a.m. This shocks many people but it all depends how badly you want to see the auction.
Don’t worry because going early in Japan and being out so early in the morning is nothing like going out in the city of Los Angeles or New York very early in the morning and walking around. It’s quite safe in Tokyo. But it’s a long wait. You will stand a lot and be prepared to wait in line for a very long time.
Around 5:00 a.m., you wil then register at the Fish Information Center (1st floor) and then the first 60 people will take a tour through the auction area from 5:50 a.m. to 6:05 a.m., the next 60 people will visit the area at 6:05 a.m. to 6:20 a.m.
And that is it… yes, it’s 15 minutes, but 15 minutes to see something that many people don’t get the opportunity to see. So, it truly depends on you.
The Inner Market
There are many shops and restaurants in the inner market.
And while many go to the outer-market for the sushi experience, I will say that eating in the inner or outer market, you can’t go wrong at Tsukiji Fish Market. Sure, many places are super popular but seriously, you can’t go wrong eating at a restaurant in the inner or outer market.
Walk through the streets to see how these vendors operate and try the different types of food from these stalls. So delicious!
The Outer-Market (Jogai-Shijo)
Practice safety as many workers are transporting their fish and other items to different areas and they are often in a hurry. So, like going through a busy street to walk across, look both ways because there is no stop sign, they will zig around you. But out of courtesy, let them go first to avoid any accidents.
Even more stalls and shops can be found in the outer market.
But you will see the main lines for Sushi Dai and Sushi Zanmai, the two most popular locations in the area.
I’m not going to rehash my experience at Sushi Dai, because you can read it all here. But just know that people here come as early as 1:00 a.m. just to get in. If you come after 6:30 a.m., you arrived too late. Get there early.
The Outer Market has so many things to try different foods, but you can also visit a temple (Namiyoke Inari) right across the street and even a much larger temple (Hongan-ji) a block down from Tsukiji Fish Market.
You can try the famed tamagoyaki at Tsukiji Fish Market.
But Tsukii Fish Market is a place that you will discover something new each time you visit.
Last but not least, 2017-2018 may be your last time to see Tsukiji Fish Market before it moves to Toyosu for the new relocation slated for September-October 2018.
So, if you are going to Japan, enjoy the renown Tsukiji Fish Market for your first or final time. You won’t regret it!