bentoninn Adventure A Tour Of Tsukiji Fish Market – Tokyo’s Largest Fish Market

A Tour Of Tsukiji Fish Market – Tokyo’s Largest Fish Market

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Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo was once the world’s largest wholesale fish market. More than a market, it’s a portal to a bygone era. Here is where the thrill of the hunt mingles with the satisfaction of finding the perfect ingredient. While the inner market of Tsukiji has relocated to a new site, the outer market remains! You’ll find fresh seafood for sale, restaurants serving delicious sushi, and shops selling kitchenware.

While much of the market caters to modern conveniences, a sense of tradition still lingers in the air. Skilled fishmongers sharpen their blades, wielding them with practiced ease, and the rhythmic clatter of knives against chopping boards speaks of generations of tradition. Join us, as we explore its deliciously fishy alleyways, and read on to know more before your visit!

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A Historical Marketplace

Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market was once a titan, holding the esteemed title of the world’s largest wholesale fish market for decades. Its vibrant history stretches back to 1935, its very foundation laid upon the reclaimed land of Tokyo Bay. Here, amidst the bustling heart of the city, commerce unfolded daily, where the predawn chorus of shouts and the rhythmic thuds of the tuna auction resonated through the air.

But change, like the tide, is inevitable. In 2018, after a storied run, Tsukiji inner market, the epicenter of the famed tuna auctions, relocated to the new Toyosu market. Though the move signaled the end of an era, a vibrant piece of Tsukiji’s legacy, the outer market, remains. This section, buzzing and overflowing with fresh seafood, continues to captivate visitors and locals alike.

Inner Market Vs. Outer Market

The Inner Market: A Wholesale Wonderland (Now in Toyosu)

In the inner market of Tsukiji, the air crackled with a frenetic energy. Licensed wholesalers, clad in rubber boots and wielding specialized tools, navigated a maze of concrete stalls. The main attraction? The legendary tuna auctions. These auctions, held early morning, were a spectacle in themselves. Giant bluefin tuna were meticulously inspected and fiercely bid upon by seasoned buyers.

This wasn’t a place for leisurely browsing. Transactions were swift and prices were negotiated with practiced efficiency. The focus was on volume and on supplying the finest quality seafood to restaurants and distributors across Japan. Due to the fast-paced nature and safety concerns, the inner market wasn’t accessible to the general public. Today, it has been relocated to a new site in Toyosu.

The Outer Market: A Feast for the Senses

This section, a stark contrast to the inner market’s controlled chaos, is a sensory overload in the best way possible. Picture narrow alleyways overflowing with stalls featuring glistening tuna bellies, plump oysters, delicate sea urchin roe, and exotic crustaceans. The air buzzes with the chatter of vendors, the familiar chopping of knives, and calls announcing fresh catches.

Unlike the inner market, the outer market caters to a mixture of wholesale and retail stalls along with many shops and restaurants. Here, customers can go shopping for the finest of kitchen utensils, pick up the freshest ingredients for their next meal, grab a steaming bowl of seafood donburi (rice bowl), indulge in melt-in-your-mouth sushi at a local eatery, and learn how to cut fish.

Also Read: Best Restaurants In Tokyo

What To Eat At Tsujiki Fish Market

With a seemingly endless array of fresh produce on display, the hardest part might be deciding what to indulge in first. Here are some must-try dishes that perfectly capture the essence of Tsukiji and Japanese cuisine:

Fresh Sushi: The undisputed stars of the show! Indulge in slices of fatty tuna (toro), glistening yellowtail (hamachi), and sweet shrimp (amaebi). The quality of the fish here is unparalleled, each bite bursting with freshness and flavor.

Rice Bowls: These customizable bowls are a fantastic way to sample a variety of fresh catches. Choose your base of fluffy white rice, then select your protein – salmon caviar (ikura), scallops (hotate), or a combination of your favorites. Don’t forget to add a dollop of wasabi and a sprinkle of pickled ginger for an extra kick.

Grilled Skewers: A delightful street food option, these skewers offer a smoky and savory experience. Choose from expertly grilled options delivering a satisfyingly charred exterior and a juicy interior.

Shellfish: Freshly shucked and served on a bed of ice, these briny bivalves are a true indulgence for seafood lovers. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a touch of wasabi adds a touch of flavor, allowing the natural sweetness of the oysters to shine.

Non-seafood Options: Even though the market is centered around seafood, you’ll find other options to satiate your appetite. You’ll find tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelet), yakiniku (barbeque meat skewers), and even dumplings. There are also a few sweet vendors and retail shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

While these are some of the most popular dishes, the Outer Market offers other delights beyond the classics. Tucked away in the crowded labyrinthine alleyways, you might stumble upon a hidden gem – a tiny eatery specializing in a unique regional dish or a restaurant offering a local delicacy you’ve never encountered before. Part of the joy of Tsukiji is the element of discovery, so embrace your inner explorer and let your taste buds guide you.

Plan Your Visit To Tsukiji Fish Market

Timings

Timings vary from shop to shop but Tsukiji Market is generally open from 5 AM to 2 PM.

Most shops and restaurants geared towards tourists have typical opening hours like 10 AM to 6 PM. There are also a few restaurants in the market that stay open for dinner.

Getting There

Getting to Tsukiji Outer Market is a breeze thanks to two nearby subway stations. The Toei-Ōedo Line’s Tsukijishijo Station offers a direct route from areas like Shinjuku, Roppongi, and Azabu-Juban. Alternatively, the Hibiya Line’s Tsukiji Station provides a convenient connection from Nakameguro, Akihabara, and Ueno.

Stay Near Tsukiji Outer Market

Tokyu Stay Tsukiji: A 3-star hotel located in the Tsukiji Outer Market area. It offers homely rooms with washers plus studios with kitchenettes.

Tosei Hotel Cocone Tsukiji Ginza Premier: A great choice for travelers seeking a stylish and convenient place to stay in Tokyo. It offers spacious rooms, a large public bath (onsen), and free breakfast.

Koko Hotel Tsukiji Ginza: A 4-star hotel with laid-back rooms and relaxing spaces. The communal lounge might be a perk if you enjoy meeting fellow travelers.

Tips

  • Aim to arrive by 7:00 AM to avoid peak crowds and witness the market in its full swing. Many restaurants open early, serving up the freshest catches for breakfast.
  • Venture into the side alleys to discover hidden gems like specialty shops selling Japanese knives and kitchenware.
  • Large suitcases and backpacks can be cumbersome in the narrow alleys. Consider leaving luggage at your hotel or using coin lockers at the market.
  • Learn a few basic Japanese phrases to enhance your interaction with vendors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo still open?

The Tsukiji inner market relocated to Toyosu Fish Market in October 2018. However, the outer market, which consists of restaurants and shops selling seafood and other products, is still in operation at the original Tsukiji location.

Can I see the tuna auction at Tsukiji?

No, the tuna auction takes place at the new Toyosu Fish Market. To snag a coveted spot for this exciting event, you’ll need to enter a free lottery for a tour. This special tour grants access to an exclusive viewing deck where you can witness the fast-paced auction action up close. There are only 100 spots available daily for this.

What can I do at Tsukiji Fish Market?

The outer market is a great place to experience the lively atmosphere of a traditional Japanese wholesale market. You can browse through shops selling fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and kitchenware. There are also numerous restaurants serving delicious sushi, sashimi, and other seafood dishes.

How do I get to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo?

You can take the train to Tsukijishijo Station on the Toei-Ōedo Line or Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Line. The market is a short walk from both stations.

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