With its roots in the Edo Era, Tokyo’s Tsukiji is one of the world’s biggest wholesale markets, handling nearly ninety percent of the city’s impressive seafood needs.
Tsukiji is famous for its pre-daybreak tuna auctions, where the giant fish trade for huge sums in the blink of an eye, but the daily life of the market warrants nearly as much attention. After the auctions (but still very early) the pulse of the market continues to race, with wholesalers cutting the fresh tuna with knives as long as swords and the frozen tuna with bandsaws; eels and lobsters still alive and wriggling in styrofoam crates; and market workers pushing hand carts down the narrow alleys between stalls full to overflowing with every kind of seafood imaginable.
A visit to the market can be started with the spectacle of the tuna auctions, which begin just after 5 a.m. Places are on a first-come, first-served basis and people often begin lining up several hours beforehand. The auctions can be watched from special viewing areas but Tsukiji is, however, first and foremost a place of business, and wholesalers and middle men will expect visitors to make way for them, and not vice versa.
We are happy to arrange private tours which will allow you to experience the market and to learn about this remarkable place first-hand with expert explanation from your guide, one of only a handful of guides with in-depth knowledge of Tokyo’s central wholesale markets.
Your tour will begin with a short video presentation explaining where all the fish come from and how shipments arrive. In the Outer Markets you will see specialist Japanese knife and lacquerware makers as well as the market shrine, complete with rock shrines dedicated to shrimp and other fish.
Your guide will also take you through to the Inner Market, where you’ll be able to see the workers cutting up the huge tuna and learn about the variety of wholesalers who work there. Lunch is included, and this will be a good chance to try some of the freshest sashimi and sushi imaginable!
** Tokyo’s main fish market at Tsukiji is due to be relocated to Toyosu in Autumn 2018, in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.