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Jan 11, 2007 10:38 PM

Tokyo Fish market tour

Any suggestions?
Tsukiji fish market tour has been suggested ... does anyone know it/have any comments?

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  1. If I remember correctly, the action is over well before breakfast time. Get there very, very early.

    Here's a great website:

    1 Reply
    1. re: bkhuna

      Have you been on a tour? What did you think?

    2. I went there not terribly early, around 8am, and it was still pretty busy. Lots of interesting things to take photos of! But be careful, it's narrow and crowded and slippery and there are giant frozen fish whizzing around in every direction! It's not really a place for tourists, but they won't kick you out, either. There is also a big vegetable market that is worth a look.

      For afterwards, there are some very popular sushi restaurants right outside the fish market, but you will have to wait in line with lots of other tourists. I would suggest heading to the main, "retail" part of the market (back towards the center of town) where you might actually find something to buy, and a wider selection of food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: CapnPrep

        Note that they have kicked tourists out of the auctions though, as they were really starting to interfere with operations.

        If you're going on your own be sure to check the calendar beforehand - they're generally closed on Sundays, national holidays and alternate Wednesdays

      2. I went two weeks ago. There were three of us dodging the motorized carts and navigating the skinny paths and generally having a blast. The fishmongers were totally gracious about our photo-taking (smiles and nods and bows work well). I would not bother with any sort of tour; just wandering through in an amazed daze gives you everything you need to know. If you go to the guardhouse at the right side of the entrance he will give you a map in English (though it didn't help much -- we got totally turned around, though it didn't matter).

        We arrived at 7:30 a.m. and by 8:30 things were quieting down. It was simply amazing to see all the effort that goes into your dinner -- or in our case, our breakfast, since we ate immediately after. No lines at Sushi Sen.

        1. just went last week myself....i'd highly recommend it. we got there at 7:00 am or so and it was still a madhouse. you need to keep moving or get out of the way a lot, but just paying attention to what you're doing takes care of that. i probably wouldn't take young kids, though, if that's a concern--it's fraught with a bit of danger as people tend to fly around in those carts.

          definitely get sushi for breakfast at one of the places inside the grounds of the market itself, too. there's also a great stand for buying ceramics in the same area as the restaurants.

          1 Reply
          1. re: passing thru

            There is a gentleman, Nakamura-san, that does escorted morning tours. I have not been but several of my clients have and they all highly recommend it.


            I believe the price is quite reasonable too for what you are getting and definitely worth the investment. And remember, the yen is weak at the moment, so Japan is a bargain!!!

          2. The tuna auction, where gigantic fish are given to the highest bidder, borders on the surreal. Perhaps it is because you have to get there at about 5am to see it. When it's that early in the morning, those tuna take on even bigger proportions - they seem as big as mac trucks. It is well worth it, though.

            Adjacent to Tsukiji is a block or so of crowded noodle shops for a quick breakfast or lunch.

            Plus, I had the greatest, freshest sushi of my life, at a tiny joint located right in the market, in the entrance area, amidst other kiosks and tiny shops. No matter when you go, you wait a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour in a winding snake of people. I would wait twice that long in the dead of winter again to taste their sea urchin - heaven in the form of raw fish.
            Anyone know the place I'm talking about?

            27 Replies
            1. re: Polecat

              Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I'll mention once again that the tuna auctions at Tsukiji Market are no longer open to the public.

              The positive side is that you don't have to get up at 5am.

              1. re: Robb S

                Not a wet blanket, much appreciated. Would have hated getting there at 5Am only to be turned away. That's valuable advice thanks

                1. re: SLO

                  I was there a few weeks ago and there is one portion of the tuna auction still open to spectators. Walk past all the fish mongers, to the warehouses in the back where the auctions take place. There is a door marked "Public Viewing" or something to that effect. It is a small walkway where you can watch the auction. If you walk through to the other side, a second warehouse with even more frozen tuna can be observed by standing quietly in front of the doorways. Get there early, stay out of the way, and be repsectful and there should be no problem.

                  1. re: mdjsun

                    what about the other auctions? uni and what not? were those viewable? i believe they're earlier in the day than the tuna auctions though.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      I was there on an extended layover so I didn't have that much time to look for the uni auction plus I was really tired from getting up at 4 am. I have read the uni auctions are strictly closed to the public. Plus I had to go wait in line for the sushi restaurant! There are also a lot of little noodle and food stands on the main street in front of the fish market. Definitely not to be missed!

                2. re: Robb S

                  Wake up? It takes me 3 days before I am not darting up out of bed at 4am. Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji was always the perfect jetlag option.

                  1. re: Robb S

                    While they're not OFFICIALLY open to the public, no one told me to leave in December. As long as you stay out of the way, no one will mention it. The auction is held in large warehouses with open doors, so you can stand in the doorway and watch from there. Point being, you can still see the tuna auctions if you get there very early and stay out of the way.
                    I DO recommend getting there closer to 5 or 6 if you can swing it. If you're just flying into Japan, do it the first morning after you arrive and use that jet lag to your advantage.

                    1. re: kep

                      Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think it's nice to respect the wishes of the people who have to work there every day. They've already taken the step of banning tourists - do they have to post armed guards also?

                      1. re: Robb S

                        Point taken. My point is only that you'd never know the auctions are 'off limits' if you didn't read it elsewhere. I practically stumbled on the auctions when I was there. Didn't expect to be able to get anywhere near them. So. If you're adventurous, but know how to stay out of the way, it is not impossible to experience the auctions. If it's your sole reason for coming to Japan, you don't have to be disappointed. If it's not, you'll surely be satisfied with the rest of the market. (And you'll be much safer too).

                        On an unrelated note, Robb S, I live by the site when I visit Tokyo. If, as it seems, that is your site...THANK YOU!!! for providing such an excellent service.

                        1. re: kep

                          Oh, you're welcome, and I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

                        2. re: Robb S

                          I have to say, I went in November, and I had absolutely no idea that the tuna auctions were closed to the public, and no one sent us away, as a matter of fact, people were pretty friendly.

                    2. re: Polecat


                      Although I'm not sure which "entrance" to Tsukiji you are referring to, I'd bet the place where you had that unforgettable uni (sea urchin) was Daiwa Sushi. The first time I tasted their uni, I felt like the world had been lying to me for the last ten years I've been eating "uni" at various other places -- as if these other restaurants had been selling me and feeding me cubed steak and conning me into believing it were prime rib. Daiwa ruined me: I refuse to eat uni anywhere else.

                      As far as I'm concerned, SLO, your tour of Tsukiji should consist of wandering through the market and taking the requisite pictures on your way to Daiwa, and standing in line for the hour or two it will take to get in. Also, they close around 1:00 p.m., and the later you arrive, the longer you will wait. Ideally, you'd want to be there by 10:00 a.m. at the latest. NOTE WELL: Bring cash and more than you think you will need. Although it seems that way from the outside, Daiwa does not have bargain prices. When I go there *by myself* I easily spend at least 8,000 Yen . . . and I would gladly spend twice that for the exquisite quality of all the fish.


                      1. re: Noice

                        I just double checked with my wife, and, yes, it was Daiwa Sushi. Thanks for clarifying. And, yeah, i know what you mean about the Uni. It's hard to get fresher than that.

                        1. re: Noice

                          When I went to Tsukiji, I had sushi at this place called Sushi zanmai and it was great. I don't know if more knowledgeable hounds recommend it and how it compares to Daiwa, which I will definitely visit next time I am in Tokyo.

                        2. re: Polecat

                          Do you mean Sushi Dai? I think it was like in the 6th row. The sushi there was so fresh. We went there twice during our vacation and the chef even remembered me! The second time we went, we had to wait for almost 2 hours! But definitely worth the wait.

                          1. re: beerbelly


                            Given your handle, I'm sure you, like me, also enjoyed a cold one or two at Daiwa in the early hours of the morning.

                            The place I am referring to is indeed called Daiwa Sushi (I checked the hiragana in my photographs and also confirmed with the english-language links below). We are probably both writing about the same place, as I remember that it is in Row 5 or 6. I include these links for the benefit of SLO; the first one has a photograph of the outside of Daiwa, and the second one has a photograph of the inside.




                            1. re: Noice

                              Sushi Dai is imediately next to Daiwa Sushi
                              Daiwa operates out of two stalls, Dai one so the wait is longer at Dai
                              both are great especially for the $. SImilar fish elsewhere would cost 2-3 times more imo

                              1. re: dougiedd

                                Does anyone know if there is a big difference between the different sushi stalls in Tsukiji? (or are they all good to great?) We will bring our baby son there, so it would be great if we did´t have to wait in line for one or two hours. (is it ok to bring him to any of these places, BTW?)

                                1. re: madøre

                                  There's no sushi stalls like an outdoor market. They are all small sit down restaurants. If you go early in the morning, when the market is open and those popular restaurants are open, you will almost definitely have to queue up unless you were first in line. It's usually fairly elbow to elbow in the shops. Japanese patrons may be smoking. and drinking. I don't think bringing a baby to the market and to those restaurants is a good idea. And I'd hate to see it become a trend. It's not an amusement park. You might consider going mid-morning when things have calmed down. Although the popular small shops will be closed or hard to get into, the larger shops a bit out of the main action might better accommodate you.

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    I know it´s not sushi stalls, my mistake. Well, we won´t bring our son then, but we will go, as it´s on my top 3 of things I want to see in Tokyo. I promise I will only go there once in my life. Promise! ;-)
                                    ... If my husband stays at home to take care of our son, then it won´t be a problem with the waiting-in-line part - but anyway: IS there a big difference, or do people just prefer to have a favorite? Thanks.

                                    1. re: madøre

                                      Here's a rundown of a number of sushi places in Tsukiji.
                                      Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai have the longest lines/waits. Many others don't seem to have the popularity of these two, so you might be able to go in without a wait, and therefore you might be able to bring your baby. Otherwise, you can check out the market in the morning, and then have lunch in the shopping area/street market just outside of Tsukiji market (jougai).

                                      1. re: E Eto

                                        Thank you!
                                        The outside market might be a good alternative.

                                        1. re: madøre

                                          Hi madore, prepare to wait for 2 to 3 hours at Sushi Dai or 1 to 2 hours at Sushi Daiwa ( it has double the seat of Sushi Dai) if you start waiting around 9:00am. I agree with others that absolutely no baby should be there as it is super packed.

                                          Personally, I find the wait worth it though, or you can buy a box of uni directly from the fish market to snack while you are waiting !

                                          1. re: skylineR33

                                            Skyliner, thanks for the advice!
                                            Hopefully I´ll be in a patient mood that day - we´ll see what happens...
                                            Mmmm uni, good idea!

                                            1. re: skylineR33

                                              perhaps a dumb question, but will it already be cracked open? i'm salivating at the thought and will be there in a couple of months.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                Yes, you can get a box of uni like this :