Tsukiji is one of the world’s largest fish markets and one of Tokyo’s bigger tourist attractions but it’s not really intended for tourists.
I often visited early in the morning with guests visiting me from overseas. If you got there early and were unobtrusive, you could watch the tuna auction, where buyers gather to bid on hundreds of giant frozen tuna. And by giant I mean some as large as 500 pounds.
This is not really true anymore.
There are very stern security guards/police who will direct you away from the tuna auction and out of the market.
Since May, the market has restricted the number of visitors who can watch the auction. There are two time periods when visitors are allowed into the area: from 5 to 5:40 a.m. and from 5:40 to 6:15 a.m. Only 70 people are allowed in during each time slot.
I could understand the new rule…I was bumped by one of the swift moving fork lifts operating there one morning. They are busy and have no time to worry about the awe struck tourists. After several visits though I began to wonder if they were trying to hit us and actually may have gotten points for taking out foreign visitors!
Registration starts at 4:30 a.m., according to the market, so get there early if you want to be one of the lucky few to attend the auction.
Tuna auction or no, the rest of the market is interesting, with every manner of fish, mollusk and possibly mammal that can be pulled from the sea, awaiting buyers (that’s wholesale buyers, not curious foreigners like me).