The Tsukiji Market in Tokyo is definitely worth a visit, if for nothing else than to see the early-morning tuna auctions. The complex is enormous (it makes the old Fulton Fish Market in New York City seem like child’s play) and contains hundreds of vendors selling tremendous quantities of super-fresh fish.
One of the most famous activities of the Tsukiji fish market is the tuna auction (located in the back corner near the Sumida River). It will be helpful to use our map of the Tsukiji market, highlighting the location of the tuna auction when you arrive at 5 in the morning. ;-)
Rules for visiting Tsukiji Market
Many guidebooks indicate that tourists are not allowed to view the auctions, but this is patently false; there is, however, a protocol:
- The tuna auction begins at 5:30 am, but you can certainly get there by 6 am and have plenty of time to see the auction in action.
- Stay in the designated “visitor” section
- Refrain from taking flash photography and smoking
- Be careful to avoid the fast moving forklifts
Map of Tsukiji Market
After spending the morning walking around Tokyo’s famous fish market, take your breakfast at Daiwa Sushi (located in the stalls circled in red on our map), the quintessential place to go for a reasonably priced sushi breakfast. There are only 8 seats, but it is a great and totally unique experience.
A helpful resource for any visitor to Japan is our guide to sushi and sake. This ebook gives travelers a glossary of different types of sushi and sake, and tips that range from how to order and eat sushi at a restaurant (dip the fish side, not the rice side, of a piece of nigiri sushi into soy sauce) to alcohol pouring etiquette (pour for others, not yourself).