[Tokyo, Japan] Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場), the world’s most famous fish market, is the must-go for first time visitors to Tokyo Japan.
This popular wholesale market is where you will experience the real-life seafood auction with some of the biggest and freshest fishes you have ever seen in your life.
What To Do
If you are willing to wake up early enough to take an expensive taxi ride over, go for the tuna auction. However, the total number of visitors a day is restricted to only 120.
Foreigners who wish to view the auction have to apply at the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) at the Kachidoki Gate, starting from 5:00am on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A first group of 60 visitors will be admitted to the auction between 5:25 and 5:50am, while a second group of 60 visitors will be admitted between 5:50 and 6:15am. I hear of visitors going at 4am.
If you do not mind skipping the auction, Tsukiji Market stays open until 1pm, though the real action does not exactly happen beyond 8am, and many shops close after 10am.
The next best time to visit is probably 9am because the wholesale market inside Tsukiji is off-limits to visitors until after 9 am.
To reserve online:
– Private Tokyo Tsukiji Market Tour
– Tsukiji Tuna Auction Tour with a Guide during the night
How To Go
Many tourists may make the mistake of stopping at Tsukiji Station itself. The nearest station to Tsukiji Market is actually Tsukijishijo Station, reachable by the Toei Subway Oedo Line (The Magenta coloured line). If you would take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to the Tsukiji Station, it would be about a 10 minutes walk.
You can take the Oedo Subway Line directly from Shinjuku Station to Tsukiji Shijo Station. The one way trip will take about 20 minutes and cost 260 yen (SGD$4, USD$3.32).
What To Eat
A sashimi and sushi breakfast is a MUST at Tsukiji. Imagine how fresh the fish would be since this is THE market where all the best sashimi comes from.
Tsukiji’s most popular sashimi restaurants can be found in inner alleys of Building 6, reached by walking in from the main entrance. You can also ask directions from the friendly security guards around, or follow tourists armed with the Lonely Planet.
Although they are many sushi joints at Tsukiji, two shops attract the longest queue – Sushi Dai (寿司大) and Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司). Many chose to walk in random shops during their visits, without the queue, and their standards won’t be too far off.
Sushi Dai is the easily most popular joint in the whole of Tsukiji, with queues snaking at the side of the shop, and can take from 2 to 3 hours for your wait. Starting operations at 5am, the set of 10 pieces and 1 roll will set you back by 3900 yen (SGD48.15, USD36.74).
For something very similar in quality and a much shorter queue, move to a shops away at Daiwa Sushi, which is actually run by the son of the owner of Sushi Dai.
It is said that the father and son team fish together and compete to see who can catch and make the best sushi in Tsukiji.
I queued for about 40 minutes at a more tourist-friendly English speaking Daiwa Sushi before I was led it a small side of the shop which can sit about 10. (Even after I finished eating at Daiwa, I noticed that the queue at Dai has not really moved.)
The Omakase chef’s choice was 3,500 yen (SGD43.20, USD32.97) for seven sushi and one roll. If you work the sums, each sushi will be about $7 – much more expensive than usual.
The flavours would depend on the catch of the day, typically including ebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin), hamachi (yellowtail), tamago (sweet egg), tuna rolls, as well as a bowl of miso and green tea.
Just as I was still wondering if I should have paid that much, the first sushi I tried was almost life-changing, unforgettable, extremely fresh that the meat almost melts in your mouth.
Not exaggerating. If you never liked sushi, this may change your mind.
It was so unbelievable that my dining partner said, “So this is how sushi actually tastes like. What have I been eating all my life?” (True enough, any sushi eaten back home just does not taste good enough anymore.)
Despite the fact that we all woke up very early in the morning, traveled long distances, and queued for a while, this sushi meal at Daiwa was very enjoyable, and informative.
The chef preparing the sushi would find time to joke and explain how you should eat sushi right. Sure, it was not cheap, but I could not fault the Japanese for their service standards and food quality.
So what happens after this early meal? Make your way to high-end Ginza which is just a few stations away for some shopping, provided you do not smell too fishy.
Sushi Dai (寿司大)
Tsukiji Market Part 6 Building,
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
Opening Hours: 5am – 2pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司)
Tsukiji Market Part 6 Building, 5-2-1 #6 (5-10 min walk from Tsukiji Shijo Station)
Tel: +-3 3547-6807
Opening Hours: 5am – 1pm (Closed Sun, some Wed)
Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場)
5-2-1 Tsukiji (Tsukijishijo Station, Toei Oedo Subway)
Tel: +81 03-3542-1111
Opening Hours: Outer Market 5:00am-1:00pm, Wholesale Market 9:00am-1:00pm, Tuna Auction 5:00am-6:15am. Closed Sundays, holidays, and the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month
To reserve online:
– Tsukiji Market Tour
– Tsukiji Tuna Auction Tour
Other Tokyo Entries
Tsukiji Honten (Shibuya, Tokyo)
Menya Musashi (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Mutekiya Ramen (Ikebukuro, Tokyo)
Sugamo Konaya (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Café & Meal Muji (Ginza, Tokyo)
Click HERE for other Tokyo Food Entries
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These days i simply skip the visit in the market and head straight for Sushi Dai. The longest i’ve waited is close to 3 hours. Breakfast became lunch and bf had to make a trip to hotel for check out but he still made it back in time! But it’s worth every minute. Go early. Really early. 🙂 It’s an hour wait even at 7am in the morning.
I havn’t tried Sushi Dai. Daiwa is good enough for me. I wonder if the difference is huge?
I went at 4am but the spaces were already taken up!! So must go at 3am!
I’ve had the privilege of trying both. IMHO both are around the same standard although my Japanese friend insists that Sushi Dai is better. We usually walk down from Roppongi at 4am and reach there at 5am (even then its 30mins – 1 hr wait). The trick is to arrive before people on public transport reach Tsukiji.
Yes, I had the feeling that both would taste pretty similar, which is why I chose to skip the queue at Dai. Won’t want to spend 3-4 hours of my trip queueing in the sun! Maybe next time will find a way to stay near Ginza, which is probably a much nearer walk to Tsukiji. 😀
I didn’t know about the visitors part – during the time I visited there was some changes made or something!
Had Dai Sushi – I don’t take fish usually so I had scallop which was amazing. Haven’t found anything close to that standard yet!
Miss Japan so!
Welcome to my blog Ms Evonnz! haha. Yes, they made the changes sometime back because there were far too many visitors. No offence to sushi restaurants here, yes, nothing comes close!
Of course nothing comes close else it wouldn’t be Japan yeah? But do try Tomi Sushi – I found them quite good here.
Thanks for recommending!
Hi, I’m just curious. For a first time visitor to Tsukiji Market right, which one you recommend first? Experience the tuna auction or queue for the sushis? or both?
For the tuna auction, you have to go really really early. The sushi queues should start about 5am. The timing won’t clash. So auction first, followed by sushi. (Though I usually just skip the auction.)
😀 okay! Will try to go out early then.. Thanks!
love your blog!!! its so informative!
Hi Daniel, it’s my first time visiting Japan next month. Wondering if it’s rude in Japan for customers to be sharing a set instead of ordering one each?
Depending what type of restaurants you go to. If you are going to more traditional sushi restaurant, try not to share.
How about if i Bring my son Which is 4 years old to the tsukiji , is it recomended? Anyway if I eat the Sashimi at sushi daiwa, is there any not raw food for kids to eat? Thanks
You can bring him if he can wake up. I believe it would be an eye-opener for him to watch a real fish market. The only not raw food I remember is the tamago egg. Am not sure if he can tolerate a one-hour queue anyway. 🙂
Hi. I intend to go tsujiki on a saturday morning at about 6 to 7am. I am only interested to try the breakfast for some sushi and small item cand some food. Could you advise if any restaurants are already open and how do i exit from tsujikishojo station? I am going 1st weeek december. Any recommendations? Thanks.
Hi Verl, there are many sushi shops that start opening at 5am. 🙂 Tsukiji Market is just above Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo Subway Line. Alternatively, you can take a 5 minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Subway Line. Follow the directions or crowd. 🙂
Hi all. The market confirm not open on Sunday? I am planning to go tomorrow ?
is there nice hostel near the place?