Although there’s plenty to do in Tokyo, one of the city’s most continuously popular tourist attractions was the Tsukiji Fish Market. Even though this part of the Tsukiji Market has changed significantly, travellers to Tokyo still desperately want to visit Tsukiji. Of course, it’s understandable given that the market was a beloved Tokyo institution that let people experience fresh seafood, a major part of Japanese cuisine.
But like life, things change. Below you’ll find all you need to know about the Tsukiji Fish Market and what has changed.
The Tsukiji Fish Market
If you have never heard of the Tsukiji Fish Market before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Tsukiji was a long-running fish market in the Ginza district of Tokyo that had the honour of being the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. The market had been operating since 1935, when it was built to replace an older market destroyed by an earthquake.
While its size was impressive, it was actually the market’s bustling atmosphere that made the biggest impression. Inside the venue were hundreds of wholesale vendors selling all manner of seafood, but the most famous aspect of the fish market was its daily 5am tuna auction. At these lively but brief events, giant bluefin tuna were sold off for huge sums of money, making for quite the spectacle. It required a super early start, but the experience was worth it.
Afterwards, visitors would make their way to the section full of shops and restaurants. There you could tuck into freshly made Tsukiji sushi and sashimi for breakfast, providing the perfect end to your experience. After all, who doesn’t want to eat sushi while in Japan.
Is the Tsukiji Fish Market Still Open?
So is Tsukiji open? Quite simply no, as the Tsukiji Fish Market closed on 6 October 2018. But there is good news. For Tsukiji 2020 was a major year, as it was meant to bring with it the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and a surge of tourists visiting the country. As such, they decided to move Tsukiji market to a new location in preparation for the Olympics.
The fish market was moved to the new Toyosu Market just 2.4 kilometres away, which opened on 11 October 2018. However, the fish market was just the inner section of Tsukiji and its surrounding outer market did not move with it and still remains open.
The Toyosu Market
Much like the old Tsukiji Market, tourists are able to visit the Toyosu Market and witness what goes on inside. Thanks to its new building that is almost twice as large as the old one, it cemented its position as the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. However, its spacious and modern facilities does mean it lacks the frenetic activity that gave Tsukiji Market atmosphere.
These changes carry over to the experience of watching the tuna auction as well. Rather than being right in amongst the action, tourists watch it unfold through the windows of the upper-floor observation deck while speakers broadcast the auction. The experience remains free and spots are given on a first-come first-served basis.
They have maintained the special New Year’s Day auction that was a tradition back in former fish market. On the first sale of the year, businessmen vie to outspend each other and claim the largest price tag for their tuna.
Something else that hasn’t changed too much is the chance to dine on delicious seafood and sushi afterwards. Many of the businesses from the Tsukiji Fish Market have moved across, so you can still treat yourself to a nice breakfast to finish your visit.
The Toyosu opening hours are from 5am to 5pm, with the market closed on Sundays, national holidays and occasional Wednesdays.
The Tsukiji Outer Market
Then there’s the Tsukiji Outer Market which is still standing despite losing its bustling inner market. The outer market also deals with wholesale goods, but those goods include groceries, restaurant supplies, kitchenware and yes, seafood.
The kitchenware aspect is interesting as you can find some of Japan’s finest knives for sale here. For instance, the Tsukiji Masamoto gyuto which is a chef’s knife made by Tsukiji Masamoto right there in Tsukiji.
What’s also nice about Tsukiji is that it still has restaurants and sushi stores for you to visit when hungry. So, you can still fill up on seafood or sashimi to your heart’s content, be it breakfast or something later. Another thing Tsukiji has over Toyosu is that it has kept its bustling nature, which was always a key part of the experience. All of this means there’s still plenty to see at the Tsujiki Market and it is still worth visiting.
The Tsukiji opening hours are generally 5am to 2pm, depending on the visiting hours for each shop, with the market closed on Sundays, national holidays and certain Wednesdays.