Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market

By: leelefever on May 6, 2006 - 5:18am

The Tsukiji Seafood Market is Tokyo is simply amazing – and for a number of reasons.  Each morning, most of seafood served in Japan comes through the wholesale market, where business owners come to buy seafood in bulk and via auction.  If it comes from the sea and is served in Japan, it comes through the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Aside from the sheer volume of the seafood, what was the most impressive was the tourist experience.  The overwhelming feeling from the moment you arrive in the market is that you are not supposed to be there.  It is a place of very high volumes of business and as a tourist, you are quite simply in the way.  I was reminded of this fact by being pushed aside by at least one wholesaler who was clearly tired of dealing with tourists in the market. It was like sailing a catamaran into the shipping lanes of a busy port- you clearly have no business there and you must proceed at your own risk.

 These guys will run you over in a second:


I have feeling that tourist access to the market will be limited in the future as it has for the seafood auction. The market is moving locations soon and my bet is that the tourist experience will change with location.


Despite being in the way, we proceeded into the bowels of the market and it was an experience I will never forget.  I’ve never seen so many tuna and in such huge sizes. 

As our friend Gen described, the fish make an interesting journey to your plate. At the auction, the fish is sold in huge volumes and as the food makes it's way out of the market and changes hands, it takes on smaller sizes and higher prices.

 For the toursits, the end of chain ends just outside the market where many restaurants serve the freshest and tastiest sushi ever for breakfast.  We had the best sushi of our lives for breakfast today including multiple servings of Toro, or fatty tuna which is the filet mingnon of sushi. Simply delictlible.

 On balance, the seafood market has some sobering elements. The word on the street is that the seas are being over-fished and the sizes of the tuna have been trending smaller and smaller.  Also, I don't think I've ever seen so much styrofoam, which is resused from what we could see.

 No matter, the Tsukiji Market is not to be missed on a trip to Tokyo, just be prepared to wake up at 5am to see the action. 

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By: Monique (not verified) on May 6, 2006 - 7:35am
Hey Lee and Satchi! I've been following your travels. Totally amazing. Your fish market post reminded me of being in Jakarta and seeing trees decorated with little hanging, clear bags of water and gold fish. Kind of decorated like a christmas tree. I asked about it and was told that they sell the goldfish in the morning as pets and whatever doesn't sell in the morning is sold as dinner in the afternoon. The sun was so hot essentially the gold fish were boiled in their little plastic bags. The trees in the morning looked beautiful and I wasn't sure if my host was just joking with me, but I love the story.
By: leelefever on May 6, 2006 - 5:48pm
Hey Monique! Great to hear from you. I've never heard of goldfish being dinner aside from frat boy pranks. Seems like you'd have to have a lot to make a meal. Did you know my family owns a goldfish hatchery? I've spent a lot of my life with those little buggers, but never ate a single one. :)
By: Jay (not verified) on May 8, 2006 - 6:08pm

Come on Lee!  We use more styros than that at wholesale. ; )

You may have not eaten a goldfish but we fed a lot of them to Domino before he promptly went back home and yacked them up on the floor at you brothers house.