Tsukiji Fish Market is a famed wholesale market for fresh fish and seafood – it’s not too different from the wet fish markets we have in Singapore but the main exception is that you can almost immediately consume what you buy. Being huge Uni and Hotate fans, we bought a whole tray of both, found a little spot at the tourist centre and started eating.
The market is broken down into 2 segments - the inner market and the outer market. In the outer market, you can find lines of restaurants and stores which sell a variety of pre-packed sashimi and dried food and it already felt like a market. I was tempted to pick up some sashimi along the way but was coaxed to head into the inner market first
What about the tuna auction? Well, we considered going for it but according to forums, there are 2 sessions – a 5:30 session and a 6am session where a total of 2×60 passes are given out. I read online where folks went about an hour and a half in advance and still couldn’t get tickets. Also, a hardcore friend of ours managed to get tickets only after 3 tries and she had booked a nearby hotel. (The lack of sleep was also likely to ruin the remaining day…)
If you’re visiting and purchasing directly from the wholesale store vendors, bring your own chopsticks and soy sauce – no one in the wholesale market really provides these. We had to plead for soy sauce from a nearby restaurant. Also don’t forget to grab a tub of Kani Miso, I can’t rave enough about this!
Also, if you’re not a huge fan of a single type of sashimi, you may actually be better off having a meal in one of the nearby restaurants to get a variety of sushi. I was pretty much done with Hotate for the next two days after eating that whole tray. Sadly, Tsukiji market will be moving out to make away for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2016 after operating at its current location since 1935.
Tsukiji market is located in between Tsukiji Shijo Station (on the Oedo line) and Tsukiji station (Hibiya Subway line) so getting off at either station will get you there. It is about a 5 minute walk from each station but do check for walking directions beforehand as there were quite few guides or signs along the way.
By the way, did you know that 5000 japanese participated in a sushi survey was taken in 2001 - the top 3 favourites are Toro, Uni and Amaebi (Sweet shrimp!) while the 3 most disliked sushi are Saba, Uni (again?!) and Sardine.
& some tips on sushi etiquette.
Also, the most expensive bluefin tuna transaction was conducted in Tsukiji in Jan 2013 – about 220kg was sold for 155.4 million yen (~US$1.76 million)! That works out to be about US$8,000 per kilogram of tuna.