Tokyo's Tsukishi Fish Market: Three Helpful Tips Not in Guidebooks
Whether or not you're a sushi lover, the Tsukishi Fish Market offers excitement and a unique look into the world of seafood commerce. My friend Katrina and I had a lot of fun wandering around exploring the market- I just wish we had the following tips beforehand!
Tip 1: If you miss the tuna auction, there’s still plenty to see and do
Katrina and I woke up at 4 A.M. with the intention of getting to the market by 5 A.M. to snag tickets to the famous tuna auction, as nearly every travel book and blog suggests you do. We were fortunate that for the first three days of our trip, we were staying in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, which is home to the Tsukiski Fish Market (and high end shopping!)
Of course, things don't always go as planned when you're on vacation! At 4:45 A.M., right as we were rushing through the hotel lobby and said a quick hello to the friendly receptionist, our initial plans were dashed.
“If you are headed to the fish auction, it’s over,” she informed us. “Someone just came back and told me it was held at 3 AM today.”
Say it isn't so! We had already checked the website to make sure the market would be open, as it was closed the day before for one of the Golden Week holidays. Although the market was open, the market's website didn’t post a message about the auction’s special earlier time.
We still went and had a great time. There was plenty to see and do- While most of Tokyo was sleeping, the market was alive. Vendors were just opening up their stalls, full of fresh fish on ice, dried seafood (crispy scallops, anyone?), ceramic soy sauce dishes, and decorative chopsticks.
Tip 2: Watch out for the trucks!
The market is not the place you want to test your texting-while-walking skills. Pay attention to where you are walking, and be especially cautious crossing any streets. There are dozens and dozens of small trucks quickly zooming around - just check out my video below!
Tip 3: The less famous/popular sushi spots are good too!
Several travel blogs mention two sushi places on a small street within the market as the best places to grab sushi, (you can spot the number one place by its signature green curtains in the windows). They actually are a bit tricky to find, but we knew we discovered them when we saw a huge group of people, followed by an even bigger group of people around the corner. A friendly tourist familiar with the place said that the wait right now was 3-4 hours. At 5 AM! I couldn’t believe it.
Katrina and I decided to find somewhere else to eat, and we found a quaint little sushi bar down a quieter alley. We were greeted by the friendly chef and immediately served cups of hot green tea to drink while he went to work preparing our sushi bowls. The salmon sushi was the freshest I've ever tasted, served on a bed of white rice with freshly pickled shaved ginger. We were also each given a bowl of the best tasting miso soup I've ever had in my life! They were very generous with the wakame (seaweed), and I love wakame.