slicing up magaro
Tsukiji Fish Market (10 minutes walk from Tsukiji-Shijo station on the Oedo line) wasn't just a market it was a three ring aquatic circus. Situated on a piece of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay and officially known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (Tokyo Chuo Oroshiuri Ichiba), it was far and away of the largest fish markets in the world, accounting for 90 percent of the seafood that passed through Tokyo and a third of the seafood that passed through Japan.

Opened in 1935 and named after the neighborhood where it is found, Tsukiji (pronounced skee-jee) covered 57 acres and contained 1,500 fish merchant stalls that sold more than 480 kinds of seafood — including eels, octopus, barracuda, puffer fish, surf clam, conger eel, lobster, squid, shrimp, sea bream, salmon, mackerel and of course bluefin tuna — laid out in rows, swimming around in tubs, and stored in crates. If you looked carefully you could find bright red chunks whale meat for sale. Tsukiji is an area along the Sumida River near Ginza in Tokyo.

The seafood arrived daily from 60 different countries: crab from Alaska and Russia, frozen torpedo-like tuna from Spain and Croatia, seas urchin from Oregon and Australia and anchovies from Peru. Most of the sea creatures were still alive and it was not unusual to see octopus slide out of buckets and crawl across the floor. The seafood was moved through the market in handcarts and motorized carts that buzzed around in all directions and got snarled in traffic jams. Because the seafood passed through the market so fast there wasn’t much of a fishy smell.

Five million pounds of seafood, worth $28 million, was sold in the market every day, 11 times more than the Fulton Fish Market in New York City and seven times more than the Paris' Rungis Market (the world's second largest wholesale market). Moving the fish in, selling it, auctioning it off, preparing it for delivery to fish wholesalers and restaurants, and moving it out was work force of 60,000 people aided by 32,000 vehicles — trucks, vans, hand carts, bicycles, and tree-wheeled wagons and turret trucks that were narrow enough to maneuver down the narrow aisles. Over 1,000 tons of fruits and vegetables also passed through the market.

Harvard University anthropologist Theodore Bestor conducted extensive field work at Tsukiji. He had called the market “a genuine attraction that does nothing to promote itself.” In his book “Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World “ he wrote, “Tsukiji is closely attuned to the subtleties of Japanese food and to the representations of national cultural identity that cloak cuisine, but this is also the market that drives the global fishing industry, from sea urchin divers in Maine, to shrimp farmers in Thailand, from Japanese long-liners in the Indian Ocean to Croatian tuna ranchers in the Adriatic.”

Websites and Resources

Websites On Tsukiji: Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Tsukiji Research people.fas.harvard.edu ; Japan Guide japan-guide.com; Essay on Tsukiji aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Getting There: Best Japanese Sushi google.com/site/bestjapanesesushi ;

Links in this Website: FISHING IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; BLUEFIN TUNA FISHING AND JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; TSUKIJI FISH MARKET IN TOKYO Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; TRADITIONAL FISHING IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; PEARLS AND JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; SEAFOOD IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; SUSHI Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; FUGU (BLOWFISH) IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ;

Good Websites and Sources on Fishing: Good Photos at Japan-Photo Archive japan-photo.de ; Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries maff.go.jp/e ; Statistical Handbook of Japan Fisheries Section stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook ; 2010 Edition stat.go.jp/english/data/nenkan ; News stat.go.jp

Traditional Fishing in Japan: Ama Divers thingsasian.com ; Ama Physiology archive.rubicon-foundation.org ; Amasan hanamiweb.com ; Squid Fishing jtackle.info/squid ; Cormorant fishing Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Cormorant fishing in Yangshuo yangshuo-travel-guide ; Photos of Cormorant fishing molon.de ; Articles on Cormorant Fishing highbeam.com

Good Websites and Sources on Blue Fin Tuna Fishing : Northern Blue Fin Tuna fishbase.org ; Southern Blue Fin Tuna fishbase.org ; Wikipedia article on Blue Fin Tuna Wikipedia ; Blue fin Tuna Fishing Methods content.cdlib.org ; Mediterranean Blue Fin Tuna Aquaculture eeuropeanrussianaffairs.suite101.com ; Southern Bluefin Tuna Aquaculture sardi.sa.gov.au/aquaculture ; Blue Fin Tuna Farming Off Spain uni-duesseldorf.de

Closure of Tsukiji Market in 2018

Tsukiji site
The wholesale market of Tsukiji Market, also known as the "inner market", where the famous tuna auctions took place, closed in October 2018 and moved to a new site in Toyosu where it reopened as Toyosu Market. Tsukiji's outer market with its many shops and restaurants remains. Many businesses that moved to Toyosu continue to maintain a second shop at the Tsukiji Outer Market.

On the closure CNN reported: “Following years of delays and plenty of controversy, Tokyo's Tsukiji wholesale fish market, one of the city's most popular destinations for international visitors, has finally shut its doors...The market is moving to a new facility in eastern Tokyo -- the Toyosu Fish Market...The opening stands as one of the biggest developments in Tokyo in 2018, closing one chapter for the city and beginning a new one. [Source: Patrik St. Michel, CNN, October 8, 2018]

“Plans to move the fish market to Toyosu have been in motion for decades, but didn't get serious until the early 2010s. Why move? Reasons centered around the age of the structure itself -- these buildings were constructed in 1935, after all -- along with the fact the Tsukiji fish market sits on valuable real estate that could prove useful for and after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There were hiccups along the way though. The Toyosu market was originally supposed to open up in November of 2016, but was delayed for various reasons, including worries over contaminated soil.

“The spot where the market was being constructed used to house a gas production plant, and it appeared the ground beneath had absorbed chemicals from this factory. After a campaign to clean it up, experts declared the area safe for use this past summer...It remains a divisive topic, however. Many citizens of Tokyo worried a move from Tsukiji would deprive the city of a historical sight at a time when many longstanding destinations are starting to vanish. Even more vocal were the vendors and workers at Tsukiji, who have held protests against the move at the old market in the days running up to its closure.”

Orientation and History of Tsukiji

Tsukiji had two parts: the 230,000-square-meter inner market (Jonai Ichiba) the outer market (Jogai Ichiba). The larger inner market was located next to the water. It was a large area enclosed under a single roof, with different businesses running their own large stalls. The outer market embraces wholesale and retail shops that sell restaurant supplies, kitchen tool and seafood. There were also many sushi restaurants here. This part of the market is still there.

Tsukiji is accessible from the Hibuya subway line and Toei Oedo line. Getting to the market and navigating around it and even finding an entrance could be tricky. The main entrance was across the street from the Asahi newspaper building. There were also side entrances. A pamphlet and map in English was available from guard booths near the entrances. The market was closed on Sundays, Japanese holidays and some Wednesdays.

The inner market was where most of the activity was. You were welcome to stroll around but if you were there in early morning when it was most active the place was very busy, wet and space was tight. You didn't want to wear your nicest clothes and you had to watch out for the motorized carts that moved the goods in and out.

The outer market which is still there is a maze of small streets and alleys bounded by main streets of Harumi Dori to the northeast and Shin Ohashi to the northwest. The 400 shops here are geared mainly for the seafood and restaurant trade, selling large knives, tableware, kitchen gadgets and seafood items like fish sausages, seaweed, and fish flakes. There are small shops that sell fruits, vegetables, meat, mushroom, and seafood. Here and there were seafood and sushi restaurant, where you could try some of the best sushi you will ever eat. The easiest way to locate a good place is to look for a line.

Tsukiji means “built land,” a reference to the fact it was placed in a district built on reclaimed land. The first market was situated near Nihonbashi Bridge, two kilometers north of the present site, in the 17th century. Tsukiji opened in the early Edo Period (1603-1867) when Tokugawa Ieyasu invited fishermen from Osaka to Edo (Tokyo) to set up shop in the area to make sure his cattle had sufficient supplies of fish. The catch that remained after the shogun’s needs were met were sold near Nihonbashi bridge. In the early 20th century there were plans to move the market to a new location but those plans were scraped after the Tokyo earthquake in 1923. The current facility was built in 1935 and was now old and crowded.

Because the market was too big for the buildings that house it, Tsukiji was moved to a new 374,000-square-meter site in Toyosu Koto Ward, two kilometers to the south, in 2018. The new facility has more space in and around it. Toxic chemicals were found at the new site and $50 million was spent to replace the two meters of top soil, purify the water and remove toxic materials. Many people at Tsukiji didn’t want to move. Plans to relocate Tsukiji were put on hold when the DPJ came to power in 2009 over concerns that the new government might cancel the relocation plan because of environmental concerns.

Restaurants at Tsukiji

Most of the restaurants in the inner market were grouped in rows of buildings, with each row having a block number. These were mostly patronized by workers at the market. The restaurants usually open around 5:30am and closed around noon or whenever food runs out.

In the outer market are small restaurants that serve fresh sliced tuna on a bowl of rice for ¥700 and variety of other dishes, There is one moving sushi restaurant that sells nothing but bluefin tuna sushi served in about a dozen different ways. The prices range from ¥200 for small plate of of tuna rolled in rice and seaweed to ¥800 for a small plate of the highest quality fatty toro. There were also regular sit down restaurants.

In addition to sushi and seafood, restaurants also offer Chinese food, noodles, curry, French food, pork and beef. Many of the restaurants’ customers work at the market and since they around fish all day maybe they want to eat something other than fish.

Business at Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji was a community in which everyone knows everybody else. Even though many people were in competition against one another the atmosphere was very cordial, and there was lots of bowing and smiles. Buyers and sellers had known each other for years if not decades. They bargain hard but also help each other out. Buyers sometimes buy fish they could not sell to help sellers on a slow day. Sellers in turn sometimes gave away good fish for free or sold it below cost to reciprocate.

Commerce was dominated by seven major first-tier wholesalers, who brought in the catch from around the world and sold it to thousands of middle-level wholesalers, who in turn sold it to distributors who delivered it to stores and restaurants.

The fish industry included fishermen, traders who purchased the fish, air shipping companies, trucking companies, butchers, packagers, delivery people. On its journey from the sea to customers plate, a single fish could change a dozen times, with each business taking a profit and adding an expense.

Offering support were small business such as knife sharpeners, box makers and restaurants. Within the complex that was 350-year-old wooden Shinto shrine with a 12-foot torii gate and plaque that reads, "We were pleased many humans enjoy fine sushi but we must also console the souls of the fish."

There was a debate on what to with tourists that visit Tsukiji. Traditionally they have just wandered around, gawking at all the fish and activity, not buying anything. Many workers and wholesalers resented their presence because they got in the way and disrupted their daily routine. Some seafood sellers wanted to sell fish directly to visitors. [Source: T.R. Reid, National Geographic. November 1995]

Tsukiji Fish Market Auctions

The main inner market tuna auction began at 5:30am every day (except Sunday, holidays and two Wednesdays a month) and was usually over within 30 minutes. There were restriction on how close visitors could get to the action.

About 3,000 frozen blue fin tuna were sold every day, with some fetching prices of $10,000 or more. The fish were numbered and displayed on the floor of a vast tuna shed. Before the auction the bidders cut off small pieces of dark red meat from the fish and examine it for color, texture and fat and oil content and made notes on scraps of paper. Oily fish were worth more than dry ones. Cuts from the stomach were examined for marbling and fat. The more marbling and more the fat the more valuable the fish was.

The fish were numbered and the bidders use hand gestures to make their bids which the auctioneers recognized with sounds that resembled barks. Masami Eguchi, a tuna auctioneer sold around 200 fish in a half an hour (one every nine seconds). "I have to recognize the highest bidder instantly," he told National Geographic. "No delays were allowed. There were dozens of auctioneers. Each one had his own chant, his own rhythm. You have to pick a style that works for you and your buyers. And you have to work fast." Other fish were sold with bids taking place with hand gestures concealed under towels. It was important that the fish stay fresh so everything was done at a rapid pace while most people were asleep.

Describing the action, Kathyrn Tolbert wrote in the Washington Post, “the fish were laid out in neat rows on the floor of the chilly warehouse, giving off a faint frozen mist under the fluorescent lighting...Men in work shirts and rubber boots bent over the solid carcasses, inspecting them by lifting a three-inch flap of skin that had been neatly cut open on each one, peering at the cut-off tail end with flashlights. The weight of each tuna was written in kilograms...A cowbell rang, and the auctioneer launched into the rhythmic chanting that marks this ritual, moving slowly through the rooms flanked by several men with notepads as they buyers hovered near their choices and made finger signals...the tuna were being sold in groups of six or seven at a time.”

After a tuna was purchased it was sliced in half with a “maguro-bocho”, a five-foot tuna knife that resembled a samurai sword and cut into smaller pieces that were sold to other buyers, restaurants, supermarkets and retailers. The knives were made by fusing iron and steel bars together at 900̊F under a power hammer and a then ground in flurry of sparks. Professional knifemakers say they one in three were rejects.

When Tsukiji moved to its new location the chaotic live auctions were replaced by computerized ones that are not as much fun to watch as the current auctions.

Tourists at Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji tuna auction became a popular tourist destination. It was generally closed to tourist during the New Year holiday season from December 1 to January 22. When tourist first began arriving, people at the Tsukiji just thought they were there because they had jet lag. Tsukiji set up a viewer area at the auction in early 2010 that held 70 people. That idea was shelved when as many as 500 people showed up. The Tsukiji tuna auction reopened to tourists in May 2010 with only 140 tourists allowed in the auction a day on a first come, first serve basis. Still many at the workers at the auctions didn’t like the visitors there and worried about temperature control and sanitation problems they presented. There were also concerns that someone might get run over by the motorized carts that cruise around. Flash photography was definitely not allowed. Some worried it could affect the vision of people involved in multi-million yen auction deals.

For a while tourists were barred from entering certain parts of the market, namely the area where the popular tuna auctions take place. Before the ban tourists were criticized for touching the tuna, poking them with sticks and even letting cigarette ashes fall on them. On some days 90 percent of the people at the 5:30am tuna auction were foreign tourists. In January 2009, tourists were let back in the auction but were required to stand behind a designated area and watched over by guards.

Authorities reportedly had enough when a tourist licked the head of a tuna. For some weeks afterwards the auction was closed to visitors. When it reopened visitors were required to stand behind a cordoned off area. The are is still closed to tourists the busy New Year period from late December to early January. But even then you can still see plenty of action from standing outside the open doors of the warehouses where the auctions takes place. There are smaller auction for sea urchins, shrimp and dried fish.

Rules for observers of the tuna auction include: 1) watch for trucks and trolleys; 2) don’t go in groups larger than five; 3) don’t carry large bags that will get in the way of others; 4) refrain from touching the fish; and 5) don’t wear high heel or open-toed shoes.

Inner Market at Tsukiji

Even if you missed the auction there was still plenty of action to witness in the inner market. Tolbert wrote: “You squeeze through the aisles, surrounded by tubs and tanks and plastic-foam trays filled with wriggling, glistening creatures from the sea, along with frozen tuna that was being sawed into pieces for wholesale customers.” while “other fish were being pulled for tanks onto chopping blocks. People yell to each other, water squirts up from clams and crustaceans, hoses send stream of water across the concrete floors. Buyers fill their baskets.”

Around 3:00am vehicles began bringing in fresh and frozen fish, much of which was already sold by 4:30am. Workers took a lunch break around sunrise and unwinded with a dinner and beer around 8:30 in the morning. Intermediate wholesalers were very busy between 6:00am and 9:00. Larch hunks of frozen tuna were cut into pieces with saws and adzes and fish and seafood of all kinds was boxed and prepared for deliveries. By 10:30am the activity had subsided, stalls were empty and the floors were being hosed down. The market closed around noon.

In 2009, ¥6 million worth of seafood was stolen from Tsukiji. The thieves targeted the most value items: tuna, salmon roe, sea urchin and blowfish.

Trash and Record Tuna’s Sold at Tsukiji

In January 2011, a 342-kilogram bluefin tuna was sold at Tsukiji for a record price of ¥32.49 million ($360,000). The was caught off Toi, Hokkaido and fetched such a high rice because of its quality and freshness and the fact that bad weather reduced the New Year catch (538 bluefin were auctioned off, 33 fewer than the year before). The record-breaking fish was purchased jointly by Kyubei, a famous sushi restaurant in Ginza, and Itamae Sushi, a chain of restaurants in Japan and Hong Kong.

In July 2010, the largest bluefin tuna caught since 1986 was sold at Tsukiji. The 445-kilogram fish, which was weighed after it had been gutted and cleaned, was caught off Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. It was auctioned off for ¥3.2 million ( ¥7,200 per kilogram). The largest bluefin tuna every sold at Tsukiji was a 496-kilogram fish caught in April 1986. The biggest bluefin ever caught was a 497-kilogram Canadian fish caught in 1995.

In January 2012, AFP reported: A deep-pocketed restaurateur shelled out nearly $750,000 for a tuna at Japan's Tsukiji fish market, smashing the record price for a single bluefin. The 269-kilogramme (592-pound) fish -- caught off the coast of Japan's northern Aomori prefecture -- stood at an eye-popping 56.49 million yen ($736,500) when the hammer came down in the first auction of the year. The figure dwarfs the previous high of 32.49 million yen paid at last year's inaugural auction at Tsukiji, a huge working market that features on many Tokyo tourist itineraries. [Source: Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP, January 5, 2012]

The winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the company that runs the popular Sushi-Zanmai chain. At around 210,000 yen per kilogramme, a single slice of sushi could cost as much as 5,000 yen, but the firm plans to sell it at a more regular price of up to 418 yen, local media reported. "The flesh is coloured in magnificent red and the quality of fat is very good," Kimura said. "It is very delicious. The taste is unbeatable." A Hong Kong sushi restaurant owner bought the previous year's record tuna, and Kimura added: "I wanted to win the best tuna so that Japanese customers, not overseas, can enjoy it."

Emiko Misumi, a 44-year-old woman who tasted a slice, said: "This tuna is so fatty and very delicious." "It was sweet even without sugar or sake. It was a very delicate sweet taste," said another female customer Noriko Nakai, 63.

Tsukiji produced 90 tons of waste a day, the equivalent of the trash generated by a city with 90,000 people. About 50 percent of the waste was in the form of paper, Styrofoam and cardboard boxes. These were placed in five-meter-high piles that were taken away to recycling centers in China who produce 50 millimeter granules that were sold to manufacturers of video tape, clothes hangers, combs, buckets and other objects. About 30 tons of tuna waste was created every day. Most of it was collected by a livestock feed maker who boiled the waste, pressed it into solid and liquid materials and separated oil from the liquid with a centrifuge. The oil was used in margarine, soap and cosmetics. The solid waste was made into feed for chickens and farmed fish such as yellowtail.

Toyosu Fish Market (Tsukiji’s Replacement)

Toyosu Fish Market (near Shijo-Mae station, on the Yurikamome line, just north of Odaiba, 2.3 kilometers from Tsukiji) is Tokyo's new wholesale fish market. Opened in 2018, it is home to 600 seafood-related merchants and replaced Tsukiji. I guess it is the largest seafood and fish market in the world as Tsusuji was. The famous tuna auction here can be viewed by tourist from an observation deck specially built for them. Many facilities here are built especially for tourists but overall it lacks the cramped but fun atmosphere of Tsukiji and tourist are generally kept a distance from the fish market activity. [Source: Tom Roseveare, Japan Travel, July 30, 2019]

The new market is clustered around Shijo-Mae station and occupies three main buildings that are connected by elevated, covered walkways that are much easier for visitors and workers to navigate than the narrow, cramped passages at Tsukiji. All in all, the facilities at Toyosu are spacious, modern and easy to deal with — a sharp contrast from he ageing, overcrowded and limited facilities at Tsukiji, which had a hard time handling its massive seafood businesses and at which the masses of tourists were viewed as a a burden. Many of the original shops and restaurants from Tsukiji's inner market (the famous part of Tsukiji) moved to Toyosu.

Covered walkways lead directly from Shijo-mae station to all three market buildings. The two buildings on the western side, overlooking Tokyo Bay, are where the fisheries and seafood wholesale operations — including the tuna auctions — are situated. The fruit and vegetables area is in the east. The facility is officially open from 5:00am to 5:00pm, but many restaurants and shops are open earlier than that. The overall project is far from complete. Further development is planned for the surrounding land in coming years. The "Senkyaku Banrai" shopping and entertainment complex is expected to open in mid-2023. There are plans for a hotel and hot spring.

Toyosu Fish Market Auctions

The seafood auctions—including the famous tuna auctions—are held in the southern fish market building, which contains an upper-floor observation deck from which tourists can observe the live auction. According to Japan Travel: “Although the actual auction space is off-limits compared to Tsukiji, you will be able to get closer to the action via a smaller, open platform area located downstairs...Displays around the facility help explain how everything works, including information about the hand signals used in auction.” [Source: Tom Roseveare, Japan Travel, July 30, 2019]

“The auction viewing experience at Toyosu has obviously changed significantly to that which Tsukiji became famous for, where tourists and photographers often found themselves in close proximity to tuna fish, brushing elbows with market vendors, and obstructing the turret forklift trucks whizzing to and fro. Toyosu Fish Market loses that original charm, but provides better access, hygiene and safety. It swaps out chaos for order, and decaying facilities for a state-of-the-art setup. This benefits both visitors and workers.

Jessica Thompson wrote in Time Out: “To see the tuna auction, there are two options: one is the visitors’ gallery behind glass windows on the second floor. You don’t need a ticket for this – you can come and go as you like but just make sure you’re here before 6.30am if you want to see the tuna. For those wanting a more intimate viewing of the action, the elevated Tuna Auction Observation Deck is now open. Here you’ll feel like you’re almost part of the action: watch the bidders’ hand signals and expressions, see the rows of frosted tuna, and even smell the fish through the partly open space. The auction goes for a brief 30 minutes – from 5.45am to 6.15am – so you’ll need to be punctual. Once it’s over, head to the multitude of excellent sushi restaurants for breakfast – you’re bound to beat the crowds at that time of day. [Source: Jessica Thompson, Time Out, January 21 2019]

According to Japan Guide: “Several windows along a corridor allow visitors to watch down onto the action of the tuna auctions. The windows are double-glazed and keep the observation area mild around the year. However, they also block off all the market sounds and make it a little challenging to take photos without reflections. Tuna Auction Observation Deck on a lower floor is separated from the action by only a single piece of glass and is also exposed to the noise and temperature of the auction hall. A few windows also look into the auction hall where seafood other than tuna is auctioned. While the floor in the tuna auction hall is colored green to provide an ideal contrast for buyers to inspect the tuna, the floor in the seafood auction hall is kept grey.

According to Time Out: “You can enter the viewing platform through a book-ahead lottery system, done via a form on the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market website, or by phone reservation (05 7002 9965). The application period opens for a week the month before, so keep an eye on the website for details. Up to 120 people are allowed each day, and bookings can be made for groups of up to five.” According to Japan Guide: “Three groups of 40 people each are able to view the auctions for 10 minutes each between 5:45 and 6:15. Applications for dates for a given month can be submitted during a selected time period in the previous month (typically during about ten days until around the middle of the month). Participants will be decided by lottery and informed a few days after the submission deadline.”

Buildings at Toyosu Fish Market

Fish Wholesale Market Building is the building where the tuna auctions take place. It is comprises of two main halls: the hall for tuna auctions and the hall where seafood other than tuna is auctioned. For tourists, the building complex houses a small restaurant area and many windows and an observation deck to view the auctions: [Source: Japan-Guide]

Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market Building is where the many wholesale businesses have their shops and sell seafood to licensed buyers. The wholesale market is off-limit to tourists, however the building offers tourists several attractions on its upper floors. There are a few windows that look down onto the market floor, providing some rather limited views of the market action. The Restaurant Area is the largest of three restaurant areas found at the market. Many restaurants that were formerly located in Tsukiji's inner market moved to and reopened at Toyosu Market, including some very popular sushi restaurants.

Uogashi Yokocho Market is a shopping area open not only to market workers but also to the general public. Here you can find over 70 shops selling non-perishable goods and processed foods, in retail portions, including knives, pickles, tea and souvenirs. Otherwise it is not possible for the general public to purchase fresh seafood at Toyosu Market

Fruit and Vegetable Market Building is a combined auction hall and wholesale market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Visitors are able to observe the action from windows on the upper floor. A small cluster of restaurants is located, near the entrance of the building: A long corridor with over a dozen windows provides visitors with views into the many small wholesale shops of the fruit and vegetable market. A large observation deck with big windows looks down into the huge hall where the fresh produce is auctioned off in the mornings.

Visiting Toyosu Fish Market

Toyosu Market is free to enter. It sits on the man-made island of Toyosu in Tokyo Bay. One minute from Shijo-mae Station on the Yurikamome line. The three main buildings of the market are connected with each other and Shijo-mae Station via walkways, and tourists can enter them along dedicated routes and view the action from observation windows that look onto the auction and wholesale halls for tuna, other seafood and produce. Auctions usually start around 4:30am–5:30am, with much of the market activity wrapping up by 8:00am. Outside those hours you can check out the facilities (without activity) and the many shops and restaurants at the site.

Most of the Seafood wholesale operations are in the northwestern building. The second floor here also contains viewing areas, as well as restaurants and the tourist-oriented Uogashi Yokocho shopping area, where you can buy souvenirs such as sushi knives. An elevator will take you up to the fifth floor with access to the Green Roof Plaza, which provides great views of Bay and Toyosu facilities. The fruit and vegetables building also has auction areas, wholesale space, and viewing platforms. [Source: Tom Roseveare, Japan Travel, July 30, 2019]

Getting There: Shijo-mae Station, on the Yurikamome Line, connects directly to the market It's only two stops from Toyosu Station which can be accessed via the Yurakucho Line. The Yurikamonme Line leads to Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay with many shopping and entertainment opportunities. Those wishing to make the pre-dawn auctions are advised to stay in hotel in Toyosu or Odaiba. According to Japan-Guide: The Yurikamome Line “is an automated, elevated train with rubber tires which connects Shimbashi Station on the JR Yamanote Line via Odaiba with Toyosu Station. From Tokyo Station take the JR Yamanote Line one station from Tokyo Station to Yurakucho (1 minute, 140 yen). From Yurakucho, take the Yurakucho Subway Line to Toyosu (8 minutes, 170 yen). Finally, take the Yurikamome to Shijo-mae Station in the center of Toyosu Market (4 minutes, 190 yen).” [Source: Japan-Guide]

Near Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Honganji Temple
(south of te Kabukiza Theater) is a branch of the Tsukiji Honganji Temple in Kyoto. It has ancient Indian-style adornments and features a harmonious blend of ancient and modern architecture. At the southern end of this district where the temple is situated is the Harumi Pier where the Tokyo International Trade Center is located. Nearby is the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Hama Rikyo Garden (near Tsukiji Fish Market) is built on the site of former beachside villa of the Tokugawa shoguns. A pleasant oasis from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life, it contains stone-buttressed walls, old pine trees, a teahouse perched over a pond , a fenced in mound and two falconry yards. It has some cherry tress but is mostly famous for its wisteria which blooms in late April.

Shiodome (Hamarikyu) is a new bayside complex with gleaming towers that opened in 2002.

Sumida River Cruise (from Hama Rikyo Garden) passes parks, bridges and buildings. From Hama Rikyo Garden you can take ferry upstream on the Sumida River to Asakusa. Along the way you pass an imperial duck hunting preserve that remains home to a number of waterfowl. In the spring time you can see blooming peony trees and rapeseed fields. In the summer the Sumida River is the site of some of Japan’s most fantastic fireworks displays. See Water Cruises Under Entertainment

Image Sources: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) JNTO 7) Ray Kinnane 8) Wikipedia 9) Twin isles 10) Tokyo city

Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), Japan.org, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, UNESCO, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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