Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market

It’s best to go early. It’s wise to be fully caffeinated and alert. Do not, as we learned the hard way wear flip-flops. Come to accept the fact that your olfactory nerves will be wildly over-stimulated. Have an open mind. Prepare to be over-stimulated and dazzled.


If you’re a lover of flavors, texture, colors, culture and local goods, Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market will be a unique and charming delight. The largest of its kind in the world, a trip to the market is a full event.



Simply stated, Tsukiji is a fish market; fisherman catch a mind boggling variety of fish and sea creatures and then they sell them.


Walking up and down the congested aisles, dodging men on mopeds, bicycles, trucks and rolling flats, I saw the most astonishing variety of fish and sea creatures. Some were dead, some were alive, and some were being butchered. Some I recognized, others looked like beasts from science fiction movies. I’d never seen so many tentacles. My senses were in overdrive. There was yelling and bargaining, there was blood and guts; around every turn a bike raced this way, a truck backed up that way.  The concrete floor is coated in a thick layer of fish-gut-goo. One must concentrate hard not to wipe out. The fish market, which seems to extend for miles, is an aquatic zoo of organized chaos. I use the term organized lightly.



The fish market proper doesn’t open to the public until 9am (there is an auction at 5 for businesses). It’s best to arrive early because it gets congested quickly. Having arrived around 7:30, we strolled the central market before entering the fish market. There is a large and vibrant central market right outside of the fish market gates where you can find everything from fresh produce, cosmetic grade rice paper, sake and calculators.



As is the case with most central markets, the restaurants and food stalls within its confines are delectable. Lines rolled down the street and around corners for some of the sushi establishments. We stepped into one sushi bar and enjoyed some of the best tuna rolls I’ve ever tasted. The tuna was warm and soft, and tasted of the ocean. It was the fresh catch from earlier in the morning. We noticed some of the prawns, at the sushi counter were still alive. Check out this video.


The Tsukiji Fish Market and the surrounding central market and food stalls are a must if you visit Tokyo, but there are some rules: