Important: Tsukiji has moved to Toyosu in October 2018. Access to the tuna auction ended. The Tsukiji market (interior) building is now closed. The new market in Toyosu is open. The new fish market surrounds the Shijo-mae Station on the Yurikamome.
Located right in the centre of Tokyo, Tsukiji is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.
The Tsukiji market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tunas. Checking out the Tsukiji Markdefinitelynately one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
Tsukiji is open most mornings from 3:00 am and it is open to the general public. One of its most interesting features is the tuna auction. Although open to the general public, it is restricted to only 120 visitors. Be advised the Tsukiji tuna auction starts at around 5:20 am and ends at around 7:00 am. Arrive early as the entrance to the auction is on a first come, first served basis.
One of the best advises I can offer you about checking out Tsukiji is to visit it the first morning of your arrival. Very likely you will have some jet lag going on, so use it to your advantage by visiting the market and be the first in line for the tuna auction.
When we just arrived for our 2 weeks in Japan, although very excited to be there, we were incredibly tired and also jet lagged. We only had enough energy to venture outside the hotel and grab some food. We stayed in Chiyoda, Tokyo, in a hotel called Smile. After we checked in, we ventured out across the road to grab some food. We literally picked a place at random and it turned out to be awesome. The moment we got in we realised nobody speaks any English...
We communicated mainly through gestures, awkward smiles and lots of pointing. This set the tone for what was about to become the norm during our holiday because as we soon discovered, Japanese people don't speak much English. When you encounter somebody keen to practice their English skills, spend time and ask them questions about Japan. We found this to be a great way for acquiring real insight right from the source.
After the best post-20 hour flight meal, we finally went to sleep. As assumed correctly, we woke up in the middle of the night so we decided to head over to the Tsukiji fish market.
For any sort of seafood lover, Tsukiji is heaven on Earth. I think it should actually be labelled something like: You can only reach seafood nirvana at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Yeah, they should give me a job as their marketing adviser. Jokes aside, Tsukiji seriously rocked my world. I don't think I've ever in my life ran around like a happy child, wanting to stuff my face with SO MUCH food. I managed to force my stomach to intake beautiful caviar, perfectly looking octopus, squid with soy sauce on a stick, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette with fish row on top), crab balls, fresh tuna sashimi, sushi ... and green tea.
There is so much variety to be discovered at Tsukiji. Pretty much all businesses buy their seafood from here, so you might as well try it all at Tsukiji. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore around and don't be afraid to ask if something looks somewhat unfamiliar, as you are bound to see some stuff which probably you haven't before.
I'm sure you figured by now, visiting Tsukiji is an absolute must whilst in Tokyo. I spoke to one of the locals (one of the few people who spoke English) and they told me that because Tsukiji is right in the centre of Tokyo and it occupies valuable space, it's going to be moved to a new location. Apparently, talks about relocating Tsukiji have been going on for years. The long-anticipated move will take place in November 2016, in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. It's worth remembering, if you are visiting Tokyo after November 2016, the wonderful fish market will be located in Toyosu. Until then, the seafood nirvana at Tsukiji awaits.