The Tsukiji Market in Tokyo is the world’s most famous fish market. If you’ve ever wanted to see hundreds of thousands of dollars of fish auctioned off, then this is the place for you!
The market was founded in Tokyo during the Edo period, probably in the early 1600’s. Originally built in Nihonhashi to sell the fish not bought by the royalty in the castle, it wasn’t until the rice riots in 1918 that the market became the centre of wholesale fish sales in Japan. After the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, the market was re-established at Tsukiji.
The market’s opening hours are 3:30am to 6:00am and there are two sets of 60 people allowed to observe the action. The first tour runs between 5:25am and 5:45am, the second tour is allowed a view between 5:50am and 6:10am. However, you’ll need to arrive earlier to ensure you reserve your spot; during peak season this might be as early as 1am! If you’re not sure how early or late to leave it, you might consider a private guide, who’ll know exactly when you need to turn up. A 222-kilogram bluefin tuna was sold at the market for an all-time high of 155.4 million yen, or 1.8 million dollars (US).
Don’t wear inappropriate footwear (high heels, thongs etc.), or take flash photography. The auction is taken very seriously and tourists are kicked out all the time for what is considered bad behaviour. This includes eating and drinking during the auction, so snack before you go!
How to get there
The best idea is to stay nearby the market, as trains and buses won’t be running after midnight. If it’s too late for that, then a taxi may be your only option, but be warned: they are very expensive in Tokyo! Some private tours will organise pick up and drop off for you.
Because of its location near the heart of Tokyo, the market occupies some very valuable real estate. So plans (very unpopular plans) have been in the works for a while to move the market to Toyosu, Koto. Scheduled to take place in 2016, the move was put on hold after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics. The market is now scheduled to move in July 2018.