A morning at Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market
The Tsukiji fish market is considered to be the largest daily fish market in the world. Every day it receives and sells over 2,000 tons of marine products as well as fruits, vegetables, flowers, and meats.
The wholesale floor opens to tourists around 9 AM. If you are passionate about tuna and must see the tuna auction, you should get in line around 3 AM. Tickets are first come first serve and go to the first 120 people who arrive (usually before 4 AM).
I did not go to the tuna auction. Instead I rolled in around 9 to see the wholesale floor as it opened. It clears out fast, so I suggest arriving at 9. Within about thirty minutes the vendors begin packing up as most things have already sold.
I spent about an hour strolling through the labyrinth of stalls looking at the many oddities on display. If it lives in the sea, I’m sure you can find it at Tsukiji.
I perused the street vendors selling fresh sushi and sashimi, but ultimately decided on some delicious strips of raw squid in a sweet sauce for lunch.
Outside of the wholesale floor are several narrow streets they call the outdoor market. Here you will find some vendors selling fishes and vegetables, as well as small restaurants, street food, and souvenir shops. I did not spend much time in this area as it was raining and very crowded.
Tourists are tolerated in the market and generally go unseen by the merchants. In the recent years tourism has become an issue at Tsukiji. Because the old market is unable to withstand such a high volume of people per day, the city of Tokyo has decided to move it to Toyosu in November of 2016.
I was surprised by the chaos of the market; there is so much going on at once. People are yelling, carts are buzzing by, buckets of water are being dumped into the corridors. I think Tsukiji market is the only place in Japan where the rules do not apply. I was shocked to see one man light up a cigarette as he disemboweled an eel beneath a “no smoking” sign.
Over all a visit to Tsukiji fish market is worth the hassle it takes to get there. The people that work in the market are just as fascinating as their goods, and it is a real treat for tourists to see something this authentic.