Tokyo Area Guide: Tsukiji 築地
Tsukiji Fish Market is the sushi mecca for visitors to Tokyo. Located about 1.5km south of Tokyo Station, Tsukiji is the most famous of the twelve locations operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market and is a venerable institution dating from 1935.
While actually not exclusively a fish market (Tsukiji also deals in fruit, vegetables and meat) it is most famous for its fish.
Tsukiji is referred to as Uogashi (魚河岸, literally "fish riverside") in local parlance.
Tsukiji is the largest fish market in the world and an estimated 17% of the world's total fish catch passes through its gates. The frantic action at Tsukiji Fish Market begins around 5am and is winding down by mid morning.
Tsukiji Fish Market, where the famous early morning (5.30-6.00am) fish auction takes place, is 300m south-west of the Tsukiji 6-chome intersection on Harumi-dori avenue.
Namiyoke Inari Jinja Shrine
Look for the Namiyoke Inari Jinja Shrine, a Shinto shrine built in 1659 to protect workers from rough seas during the reclamation project that created the Tsukiji area. The Shrine is at the entrance to the market.
The streets around Tsukiji Fish Market teem with small trucks and especially turret trucks rapidly carrying produce to and fro - requiring visitors to be very watchful.
Tsukiji tuna auction
The tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, which starts at 5.30am, is the main attraction for curious onlookers. The auction at Tsukiji Fish Market can be watched - and, more to the point, listened to - from the sidelines.
It is a seeming cacophony of shouts and cries, amidst which men with picks bend over huge frozen tuna inspecting them for their quality. (See video below.) No flash photography!
Tsukiji open days
Tsukiji Market itself is not open every day. A calendar showing days closed is available on the Tsukiji Market website (click on the 'Tsukiji Market Calendar' - the dates marked in red are no go) and an English guidesheet and map are also available at the market's information booth.
Even though Tsukiji market is closed on Sundays, there is still plenty to see and eat there - but without the mad rush and bustle.
Adjacent to the auction area is a building full of tiny wholesale stores - more like booths - selling the freshest marine produce. These are open even on days when the market is closed.
The retail side of Tsukiji on the outskirts of the market extends to the block on the other side of Harumi-dori which is also full of restaurants and stores where you can sample some of the freshest sushi available anywhere in Japan, buy produce in retail quantities, purchase culinary implements, especially knives, and get souvenirs of the market, too.
However, whether the market is open or not, Tsukiji is always buzzing. The crazy maze of street stalls and restaurants is keen to feed you its finest and freshest. Opening hours are typically from 5am to noon or mid-afternoon.
Behavior at Tsukiji Tuna Auction
The behavior of visitors to Tsukiji market is a perennial problem. Access has been considerably restricted because of friction between tourists and those working at Tsukiji. Please observe the following rules:
Tsukiji Honganji Temple
The impressive Indian-style Tsukiji Honganji Temple across the road from Tsukiji subway station is also worth a look for its pre-war antiqueness, its vast incense-laden, cathedral-like interior and carved golden altar. You are more than likely to see a ceremony taking place before the grand altar if you stop in.
Access to Tsukiji Market
Tsukiji Station, Hibiya Line, exit 1, Google Map; Higashi Ginza Station, Hibiya and Asakusa Lines, exit 5; and Tsukiji-ichiba Station, Oedo Line, exit A1. Tsukiji is also a short walk from Shimbashi Station
Tel: (03) 3542 1111.
Tokyu Stay Tsukiji is a clean, convenient hotel in a prime Tsukiji location, right in the middle of the Outer Tsukiji Fish Market, and only 5 minute' walk from Higashi-Ginza and Tsukiji subway stations. Rooms here are semi-self-sufficient, suiting the independent traveler. Only 10 minutes' from the high-class Ginza shopping district.
Ginza Creston is a high-rise hotel on floors 33 to 38 of the building it is in and so provides guests with wonderful views over eastern Tokyo and the Sumida River, as well as all the mod-cons and conveniences of a modern hotel. Only 5 minutes' walk from Tsukiji Fishi Market and 20 minutes from the classy Ginza district. Has good in-house restaurants.
Hotel Amanek Ginza East is a new hotel located a little north of Tsukiji Fishi Market, close to Ginza. Hotel Amanek Ginza East offers an atmosphere of warmth and style in the center of one of Tokyo's prime commercial and shopping districts, with 24-hour convenience stores and eateries nearby. Many of the somewhat compact, but well-designed, rooms come with a particularly spacious, relaxing bathroom. Good, clean accommodation that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
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