October 6th 2018 update: The Tsukiji Market is now closed. The replacement Toyosu Fish Market opens October 11th. This CNN story covers the news: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/tokyo-tsukiji-fish-market-toyosu/index.html
Tsukiji Market (築地市場, Tsukiji Shijō) is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of food and flowers in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.
There a nice 24-hour timeline of the market activities here:
The market has become a tourist attraction and rules have been put into place so that tourists don’t interfere with the day-to-day operation. Those who want to see the tuna auction have to apply at the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Centre) starting from 5:00am on a first-come, first-serve basis. Only 120 are allowed in and apparently many are turned away.
The idea of getting up so early to queue to watch a tuna auction really didn’t appeal. The next option is to visit the wholesale area after 10am – this is where fish bought in the auction is sold to, what I’d guess are shops and restaurant buyers.
I can imagine the people who work there are thoroughly fed up with tourists getting in the way while they try and make a living.
We visited just before lunchtime, when the wholesalers had sold their fish. The streets around the market were still pretty crowded, mainly because the area is surrounded by restaurants, street food stalls and shops selling sushi, sashimi and everything fish related:
We headed into the wholesale area:
I also took a couple of videos – even at this time, there’s plenty of activity, with mini-trucks rushing around:
If you want to see lots of fish then visit just after 10am!
We found a great little restaurant with a point to order menu:
The sushi was probably the best I’ve ever tasted – not surprising really as it was fresh that morning and didn’t have far to travel. I don’t know the name of the place, but it looks like this inside (minus my girlfriend!) – you can see some sushi and my beer waiting:
If you are in Tokyo, then I’d definitely recommend a visit, although for me the highlight was the food rather than wandering around the wholesale market itself.
The Tsukiji Fish Market
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan