Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market is one of Tokyo’s top places to see. Two days before I visited, a fire burned down a section of the market. However, I was lucky that most of it was still open for exploration when I arrived. There has been talk of relocation, so for those who want to see it in its original beauty, go as soon as you can!

Some of the goods you can see and purchase at the market:

If you are willing to brave the cold early morning hours, the market allows 120 people to view a 20 minute tuna action in the warehouse starting at 5:25 am. I heard it is a really neat experience, however, you have to start queuing up around 3 am in order to secure a spot. This means catching the last train the evening before, staying overnight in a cheap hotel or 24 hour manga cafe, then walking to the market early in the morning.

Nibbling on fresh octopus boiled in salt. No preservatives or color.
Walking the back streets of the market near the warehouse

I wasn’t ready for the early morning commitment so I decided to visit the market around 9:30, a time that I thought was perfect if you didn’t go to the early auction. I arrived and had a bit of time to wander the outside market, then found my way to the warehouse before it opened to the public again at 10 am. I was excited to enter the warehouse. Once ushered inside, the atmosphere was immediately filled with a frenzied craze of fish preparation and packaging- the air was full of seafood.

Workers driving vehicles rushed down the crowded rows, warning people to get out of the way.
The whack of a knife brought the life of a small fish to an end. The next slice opened it’s body. A bit of fish blood flew onto my arm.
Slice, slice, slice
Workers chopped, cleaned and gutted all sorts of seafood. All with incredible speed and precision.
Bandsaws that I had only thought of for metal and wood were used to shear massive chunks of frozen tuna into smaller pieces.
Hunks of seafood lay waiting to be cut by skilled hands
Chopped tuna heads lay stacked on tables, ice, and in buckets of water
Stacks and stacks of styrofoam boxes lined the outside, ready to be moved to the next location.

By 10:30 the craze was almost over; all of the fish was packed and ready to go. A group of workers ate some rice and sushi as they finished. Outside of the warehouse, an outside market bustled.

Restaurants proudly displayed the carcasses of their tuna used for the day

For lunch I ate at a bowl of fresh tuna and salmon over rice. Not sure if it was just in my mind, but it tasted so incredibly fresh and flavorful. The best sashimi-don I’ve had thus far. This market is the place to go for seafood lovers.

Fresh tuna and salmon over rice

I walked by a stand selling beautifully crafted wagashi (sweet bean paste delicacies). I had a hard time choosing which one to buy. I ended up getting a swan.

Rows of colorfully crafted wagashi sweets
Me and the wagashi!

Many more shops were waiting to be explored. Each one sold Japanese seafood or other delicacies. I stopped by a place selling tamagoyaki- a sweet and savory rolled egg omelette, and watched as the chef skillfully managed 5 different frying pans.

A master chef making tamagoyaki
For  less than a dollar, you can enjoy a delicious slice of tamagoyaki

Tsukiji market was an exciting place to visit that was full of action, excitement, seafood, and sellers. The warehouse walk-through was the best part, but finished quickly. Plan your time accordingly and come on an empty stomach if you want to taste and see some of the best seafood in Japan!

2 thoughts on “Tsukiji Fish Market”

  1. 8/16/17 This morning I hugged a cup of jasmine tea and enjoyed your blog up to this point. I am thoroughly hooked and can’t wait for your next post!

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