Despite all the guidebooks and blogs, everyone who’s visited me in Tokyo seems to have trouble visiting Tsukiji market 築地市場. As you may have read before, Tsukiji market is not built for tourists yet is among the most visited places in Tokyo (it is the first item on Trip Advisor’s 3 days in Tokyo). Before you go, there are a few things to know:
1. What time does Tsukiji open?
There are two things that tourists generally want to see, the “tuna auction” and the “regular fish market”. The tuna auction starts ridiculously early, like 4 or 5 a.m. I’ve never been. The regular fish market is sufficiently interesting and opens to tourists at 9:00 a.m. This is posted on a sign in front of the market (see picture below) and was confirmed by my friends during their July visit to Tsukiji. Also, the Uogashi Yokocho shopping / restaurant area (aka Fish Alley) is open before 9:00 am.
2. Where is the Tsukiji market? How do I get in?
Tsukiji market can be reached by a number of train stations, including Tsukijishijo 築地市場駅 (Oedo line), Shinbashi 新橋駅 (JR Yamanote, others), and Higashiginza 東銀座駅 (Akasaka and Hibiya lines). Once you reach the market, though, it can be a bit daunting to find exactly where to go.
The following map (below, left) is located outside the market and is worth printing. The main roads are at the left and bottom of the map, the fish market is shaded in blue, and the five entrances are shaded in yellow. (Note: this map is oriented with south at the top. In comparison, the aerial google map (below, right) is oriented with north at top.)
The five gates are listed below, along with pictures and links to their locations on google maps.
Tsukiji market map:
Gates and entrances
Kachidoki gate 勝どきゲート (map)
Kaikōbashimon gate 海幸橋門 (map)
Ichibabashi gate 市場橋門 (map)
Main gate 正門 (map)
Seika gate (Fruit and vegetable section) 青果門 (map)
Food and services
For eating and shopping, there is a collection of small shops and restaurants called Uogashi-Yokocho 魚がし横丁 (Fish Alley), including the well-known Sushi Dai 寿司大, which is located here: map.
The Fish Market
3. What are the rules? How should I act?
Because Tsukiji was not built for tourists, you need to pay attention to your surroundings and be cognizant of the people who work there. There are fast-moving carts, razor-sharp knives, buzzsaws, and other dangerous objects. Photos should be taken quickly, and, above all else, tourists should avoid blocking the aisles and intersections. In addition to my tips, there are several rules posted outside the market. Please take note:
Do not be drunk
Do not touch anything
No stollers, large groups, or flip-flop sandals
4. What do I see when I get there?
Fish. What did you expect? It’s a fish market.
- http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/ (Japanese)
- http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm (English)
- Tsukiji Market (Wikipedia)
- Tsukiji Fish Market Tour Guide (PDF)
- How to Get to the Tsukiji Fish Market
- General information: Tsukiji fish market
- Film review: Tsukiji Wonderland should resonate with sushi-loving Hongkongers: this review describes the decline is Tsukiji’s fortunes, noting that “Business is a tenth of what it was 50 years ago…”
- Map of Tsukiji Market in 1948, when it was used as a GHQ laundry facility
- Tsukiji Market in a photo from 1970, when the nearby Kachidoki Bridge was still operating as a drawbridge