Tsukiji Fish Market

It’s cold (1 degree C) and wet. The forecast snow has, thankfully, not materialized as my friends and I had decided that would be visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market regardless.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Coming out of Tuskiji station (exit 2), we headed straight and crossed the footbridge by the Buddist temple before continuing up the street.
At the first set of traffic lights we were starting to see market stalls.
Wandering up we marveled at people enjoying sushi for breakfast. (Not our primary choice) washed down by a glass of beer. (Definitely not our primary choice!!)

We stumbled across an information center, which had an English speaking agent. He gave us a map and pointed us in the direction of the fish market.

Tsukiji Fish Market

The fish market was a hustle and bustle of activity. No surprise there- it’s a working market.
Tsukiji Fish Market

What was surprising is that there was no smell. I’m not a fish fan and I can’t abide that smell, so I was pleasantly surprised.

The variety of fish was mind blowing, as was the uses that the Japanese have for virtually all parts of the fish.From oversized mussels (they seriously get THAT big?)

Yes- they are that big!

Yes- they are that big!

to crabs, shellfish, prawns and baby sardines.

Boiled baby sardines. A Japanese specialty.

Boiled baby sardines. A Japanese specialty.

Octopus, squid, crabs, abalone, sole, Tsukiji Fish Market

live or dead, fresh or frozen. There was plenty of choice.

And of course the tuna.

Due to various problems that have arisen due to the volume of tourists coming to see the tuna auction, the market has put some restrictions into place. Understandably. This is a place dealing with food. Hygiene does need to be maintained!

Tourists aren’t allowed to enter certain areas (the wholesale areas) of the market and they can only watch the tuna auction from a designated area between 5:00am and 6:15am. Only 120 visitors are allowed to watch the auction and the tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis from the information center (the one we stumbled across) which is on the 1st floor of the “The Fish Information Center”.

We weren’t there that early, but we saw plenty of tuna:

From fresh slabs, being prepared for sale, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo the large frozen slabs…

Tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market

…being wrapped in newspaper

Tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market

To smaller ones being sold on.


Overall, I found the visit rather interesting yet very disturbing.

There were still fish and shellfish alive (some more than others). One fish was still moving despite it being slit in 3 places. There were tanks holding fish, obviously destined for the restaurants that specialize in ‘Choose-Your-Own’. Crabs and prawns in polystyrene containers, still moving.

Then there is the environmental side of it:

How long can the ocean sustain such a harvest if this is happening on a daily basis?

Tsukiji Fish Market

When fish are being harvested as babies?

Marlin at Tsukiji Fish Market

Prawns are being harvested full of egg cases?Prawns at Tsukiji Fish Market

Polystyrene being the Go-To choice of containers for shipping?


I came away with real mixed feelings.

I’m glad I went and I’m glad that I didn’t have my children with me.

I have also been reminded about the importance of wise, sustainable choices when it comes to our food and being good stewards of our planet.

Tsukiji Fish Market is a 5 minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibuya Line.

Website: http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm

About Cheryl

I am a child of God, a wife and a mother of 4 children. Some days are good. Some days are frustrating. Some days are just plain insane. In between the mayhem, I loved to go for walks with our mutt, potter in the garden and enjoy the beauty that surrounded us. That all changed in August 2012 when we waved goodbye to our mutt and garden, our eldest at Uni in Gloucester and moved to Tokyo for 4 months. And yes- we are still here...
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3 Responses to Tsukiji Fish Market

  1. Really interesting post. My first thought was how amazing it looked, those live shellfish would be delicious when cooked so fresh, and what a beautiful choice! But your thoughts have made me think much harder about sustainable fishing and farming. We have a tendency to a deep sense of entitlement when it comes to the natural resources of our planet and I will be reflecting today on how best to reduce that.

  2. Interesting post Cheryl. Sounds like a thought provoking morning. Great photos too.

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