On one of our last day in Tokyo, I decided to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market with one of my fellow TUJ classmates. In order to go, however, you need to usually find a place to stay all night because the market opens up at 5am every morning (except for Sundays, Holidays, and certain Wednesdays). The market is known to be one of the largest in the world, with business coming from all over the globe to purchase and sell fish here.
The streets near Ginza were completely deserted around 4 AM. We decided to leave around 4 AM for the market, before it got too crowded.
When we arrived at the market, it was still slow but vendors were putting out their goods, and shops were turning their lights on. Here is one of the main signs indicating where the outdoor market begins.
Even though it was still early morning, the market was moving about already. When visiting here, it is recommended that you take caution where you walk, because it can become very very crowded and busy.
Many of the vendors had history of the trade outside the building. The market actually used to be in Kanda, but was relocated to Tsukiji some time after World War II, since the city was growing around up around it and the area wasn’t as close to the port.
We managed to arrive at the market a few minutes before 5 AM, when the market opens. The area is actually patrolled by the police, and they are very strict with their rules about the market.
In recent years, tourists have caused quite a problem in the market. In all honesty, Tsukiji is NOT an attraction, but merely a market. Vendors are trying to conduct businesses, and so many tourists flock to the area now that it inhibits that. It also has become a health hazard for the fresh fish being sold. Too many people around makes the temperature much hotter, and increases the risk of the fish getting contaminated with germs. Because of this, Visitors are not allowed to visit until after 9am when most of the fish are sold.
Since we had arrived a little too early, it was a perfect time to catch the sunrise on Tokyo Bay.
The port area is where the real action happens. Here, there are trucks, carts, scooters, and bikes constantly moving. They’re transporting fresh fish and other goods to and fro. Even though the fish wasn’t visible, the smell was quite apparent that we had found where they were being sold.
In the market, there are certain areas that are restricted at all times. This is where the products are actually being brought in from buses, trucks, and of course, boats.
In the market, there are many famous sushi and sashimi restaurants, since the fish could not get any fresher than from a place like the market.
Many merchants sold variations of dried goods. I’ve never seen so many beans and dried fruits ever!
If you love seafood, then you will love some of the things Tsukiji has to offer. All kinds of fish, shellfish, squid… you name it, they have it. The market is most famous for it’s tuna auctions at 5 AM. Merchants from all over the world come to bid on gigantic tuna, but only about 70 are allowed in every morning.
The Tsukiji Market was an amazing experience to see a tradition that has been around for decades. I really thought going early was a much better experience, because there are no tourists around and you can really see the “behind the scenes” of the market.