Travel: Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo


The Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market is on most traveller’s list and it’s exactly how it’s portrayed in documentaries and articles – one of the most quiet and orderly auctions I’ve been to. We crawled out of bed at 230am and made it to the queue at 3am, then got hoarded into a waiting room for the first group tour at 525am, we get to stay for 20 mins and then ushered out in single file – watch out for all the mobile little trucks zipping around as you snap photos. They only let in 120 people a day, that’s two groups of 60, the first tour is at 525am and we had to leave by 550am, the second group was then ushered in. Everyone is given a neon green vest before entering the restricted area.

I went twice, once at 830am missing the auction and a second time at 3am. The fresh foods market area only opens at 9am, so I was lucky to be able to do both on separate days. It’s easy to reach by subway, and the second time round, we left from Four Seasons Marunouchi at 3am and get there at 315am – the taxi ride cost us about 800¥.

tsukiji tokyo fish auction

The pros walk around with ice picks and torches, examining the deep cut at the tail of the frozen tunas and often times, getting a tiny slice to taste before deciding on their bid. I didn’t take that many photos because I wanted to be mindful and enjoy the moment, rather than behind an illuminated screen.

Basically the market is divided into sections and there are respective auctioneers calling out the fish numbers (they are all marked in red numbers in ascending order). The buyers all have caps and name tags pinned on their tags, they raise their hands on their bid and another guy writers down the name of bidder and puts the sticker on respective fish. All very straightforward!

tsukiji fish market

Fancy pimp my ride kind of fish trucks parked at Tsukiji!

tokyo fish market

Sawing through the frozen tunas

tokyo tsukiji auction
tsukiji auction
tsukiji tokyo
tokyo japan fish market

Breakfast at tsukiji

breakfast tsukiji tokyo sashimi

Doesn’t the owner of the shop look like the bear on his sign board?

tsukiji tokyo market

Without the help of Tokyo food expert Yakuri san whom I had the pleasure to meet last weekend in Singapore at the Chowzter Asia awards. Don’t miss her top Tsukiji list here. On her blog, she also recommended Turret coffee and if you’re like me, needing a caffeine fix early in the morning, head to Turret or Yonemoto.

I missed out on the info counter when I arrived and found it later during my stroll, but it’s definitely a good starting point with a clear map that lays out all the stalls where you should be eating your way through. Sadly, I didn’t get to try the ramen that Yakuri san recommended – but I’m definitely coming back before they move to a further out location in November 2016.

yamanote tsukiji coffee

Simple pleasures: uni (sea urchin) and the freshest crab over rice with omelette. Two doors down, I missed out on the double fried oysters at Toyo Chan that picked up the best seafood fast feast at Chowtzer Asia’s awards last weekend!

uni breakfast tsukiji
tsukiji tokyo japan

All you need to know to navigate Tsukiji with tips from the expert here. I didn’t have time to prepare for this work trip, but would definitely recommend buying her book: Food, Sake, Tokyo.

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