Main content starts here.

Discover one of the world’s biggest markets! Breakfast at Tsukiji Popular restaurants at Tsukiji Outer Market Breakfast in the kitchen of Tokyo Tsukiji is the heart of the Japanese food culture. Restaurants at Tsukiji Outer Market serve not only seafood dishes like sushi but a variety of meals made with a variety of ingredients. The tuna auction at Tsukiji Market proper, formally the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, attracts more than a hundred spectators every morning before daybreak, a growing number of them recently foreign visitors. In this issue, let’s take a tour of Tsukiji Outer Market and discover the charms of Japanese cuisine as well as the district of Tsukiji.

Report by Tokyo lover

Annamarie Sasagawa Nationality: Canadian

Tsukiji: Tokyo’s Kitchen

[Photo | Caption: Tsukiji’s Outer Market] It can be hard to find a quiet moment at Tsukiji Market. Both the inner and outer sections of Tsukiji Market buzz with activity from the dark hours before sunrise to well into the afternoon. In the inner wholesale section of the market motorized carts zip about delivering fresh fish, seaweed, and other seafood from wholesalers to commercial buyers.

In Tsukiji’s outer market, you’ll hear shopkeepers yelling irrashaimase (welcome!), delivery staff zipping about on bicycles and carts, the murmur of conversation between shopkeepers and restaurant owners and their customers, and the sound of city traffic rushing past on nearby Harumi Street. Tsukiji, which is located in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward between the upscale Ginza shopping district and the Sumida River, is the largest wholesale market in the world. Officially it’s known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, but Tokyoites refer to it simply as Tsukiji.

[Photo | Caption: Enshouji Temple in the Outer Market]It’s a lively place, but when you do find a silent second at Tsukiji, stop for a moment and take a deep breath. On clear days, especially in winter, you’ll pick up hints of salty ocean air. This is a reminder of the area’s past: Tsukiji, which literally means “reclaimed land,” was actually part of the Sumida river delta until the mid-17th century. Following a devastating fire in the capital, the shogunate government ordered the marshlands in what is now Tsukiji filled in and converted into a temple district. Fifty-eight temples relocated here and marshland birdsong was gradually replaced by the sound of bells and chanting monks. Though only a few temples remain at Tsukiji, you can sometimes still hear their bells. Over the next two centuries Tsukiji morphed from a temple town to a foreigners’ enclave to its current incarnation as the world’s largest wholesale market. When Japan opened up to foreign trade in the late 19th century, Tsukiji became one of the few areas where foreigners were permitted to live. The district soon became a thriving center for education and missionary work, as well as the site of Japan’s first western-style hotel, the Tsukiji Hotel, which opened in 1868. Tsukiji was reborn again following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, when most of central Tokyo suffered severe damage. As part of rebuilding efforts, the city’s wholesale market was relocated from nearby Nihonbashi to Tsukiji. It officially opened for business in 1935 and has been bustling ever since.

[Photo | Caption: Sashimi on rice at the Outer Market]

Tsukiji is still going strong almost eighty years later. The inner market, where wholesalers receive fish and seafood from all over the world to sell on to buyers from restaurants and supermarkets, It’s schedule to move to new facilities in the nearby Toyosu district, on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, in 2016. The outer market, however, isn’t going anywhere. Best described as Tokyo’s kitchen, Tsukiji’s outer market covers two city blocks and is filled with over 350 tiny shops selling all manner of cookware and ingredients as well as restaurants offering the world’s freshest sushi and sashimi.

[Photo | Caption: A shopkeeper in Tsukiji’s Outer Market] [Photo | Caption: Even Hello Kitty loves Tsukiji Market]

Everything you need to cook up a hearty Japanese meal is here. You’ll find shops selling the dried bonito fish used to make the dashi broth that is the backbone of Japanese cooking, bunches of wasabi roots sourced from farms across Japan, specialty mixes of shichimi chili powder, pots and pans, and everything else you’d need in a well-stocked Japanese kitchen. You can even buy a high-grade Japanese knife long and sharp enough to slice through the tail of a frozen maguro tuna fish, if that’s on your shopping list. In addition to their seemingly endless inventory of kitchen supplies, cooking ingredients, and fresh sushi and sashimi options, shopkeepers and restaurateurs in Tsukiji’s outer market also have seemingly endless enthusiasm for making conversation. Although Japanese people in general are often eager to chat with foreign visitors, Tsukiji shopkeepers take it up a notch. If you’ve been learning Japanese and are eager to practice over a meal of fresh sushi, there’s no better classroom than Tsukiji. If you want to understand a culture, start in the kitchen. By visiting Tsukiji, Tokyo’s kitchen, you’ll get a sense of the layers of history behind Tokyo’s neighborhoods. You’ll see firsthand the meticulously organized chaos that is life in the largest city in the world. You’ll appreciate Japan’s growing economic and cultural connections with other countries. You’ll have a chance to chat to the city’s friendliest shopkeepers. And, most importantly, you’ll eat the best sushi of your life.

Time for breakfast! Tsukiji Market comes to life in the early morning when buyers show up for business. To serve them, many restaurants at Tsukiji Outer Market also open early. A delicious breakfast made with ingredients delivered fresh to the market is a great way to start a fun day in Tokyo!

Tsukiji Hare no Hi Shokudo (Seafood rice bowls)

Here is the restaurant introduced in the report.

Hare no Hi Shokudo specializes in kaisen-don, or seafood rice bowls, since it opened in 2012. The bright open-style kitchen and bustling interior reflect the energy of the wholesale market. Goka kaisen-don (grand seafood), Tsukiji zeitaku-don (Tsukiji deluxe), Zeitaku maguro-don (deluxe tuna), Uni ikura-don (sea urchin and salmon roe), Otoro aburi-don (broiled fatty tuna), Maguro to shiromi no awase-don (tuna and white meat combo)… Every bowl in the menu is topped generously with freshly dressed seafood. Enjoy!

Address 1F, 4-10-5 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Inquiries 03-5565-6477
Opening hours 6:00–22:00 (last order 21:30) / seven days a week
URL Tsukiji Hare no Hi Shokudo (JPN) (External link)

Asa Kitchen & Deli (Cafe-style delicatessen)

Asa Kitchen & Deli is a cafe-style delicatessen rare in Tsukiji that opened in 2013. It’s perfect for visitors more hungry for vegetables than for meat or fish. The counter is lined with delicious, healthy, stylish dishes including seasonal vegetables deep fried and then flavored with seasoned soup stock, mushrooms sautéed in butter, hamburger patties with strips of dried daikon radish, burdock root sautéed and simmered in soy sauce and chili pepper, and celery omelets. Enjoy with a cup of coffee made with special beans.

Address 6-24-7 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Inquiries 03-6264-0448
Opening hours 6:00–18:00 / Irregular closing days
URL Asa Kitchen & Deli (JPN) (External link)

Toritoh Branch Restaurant (Chicken)

Toritoh Branch Restaurant is run directly by the specialty poultry wholesaler founded in 1906. The bestseller is Oyako-don, a rice bowl topped with chicken and creamy, runny egg. Another recommended dish is Toriju, a box filled with rice and topped with the rich, soft meat of Oyama chicken pasture fed in the foothills of Daisen in Tottori Prefecture. The menu is full of other chicken dishes including chicken curry and Bonjiri-don (chicken tail rice bowl).

Address 4-6-8 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Inquiries 03-3543-6525
Opening hours 7:30–14:00 / Closed Sunday, holidays, and market closing days
URL Toritoh Branch Restaurant (JPN) (External link)

Tsukiji Outer Market


Stores in the Inner Market normally open around 9:00, and stores in the Outer Market around dawn.
Stores in both areas close before evening.
Observing the tuna auction: Starts 5:25
Capacity: Two groups of 60 (total 120 visitors)
Reception starts at 3:00 on a first come, first serve basis.
Tsukiji Outer Market calendar (JPN) (External link)
Access Map (External link)


Access to Tsukiji Outer Market

1-min. walk from Toei Oedo Line Tsukijishijo Station Exit A1
1-min. walk from Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Tsukiji Station Exit 1/2