Guide to Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market (Tsukiji Shijo) is one of Tokyo’s top attractions – and with good reason.

It’s one of the most exciting markets in the world, whether you arrive early in the morning for the tuna auctions, or later in the morning for a look around and a sushi breakfast.

Since we get more questions about Tsukiji than almost any other place in Tokyo, we’ve put together an easy guide to visiting Tsukiji Market (number one may seem obvious, but itโ€™s often overlooked)!

Our Updated Guide to Visiting Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market

tsukiji fish market tokyo japan

1. Make Sure Tsukiji is Right for You

Tsukiji Market – the world’s largest fish market – is an amazing place if you’re a foodie, love markets, are a photographer – or simply enjoy visiting unique places.

But if you’re squeamish, don’t like seafood, or are not particularly fond of markets, you might want to consider skipping Tsukiji (and the article and images below).

Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo Japan fish

Fish at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market

2. Visit Before the Market Moves

Tsukiji Fish Market won’t be here for long.

The wholesale market is slated to move to the nearby Toyosu district in the near future – before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – which means you don’t have much time left to visit.

The new market will surely be a modern marvel, but nothing can replace the character and history of Tsukiji.

For a taste of Tsukiji’s many fascinating stories, check out the Asahi Shimbun’s series, Tsukiji: Kitchen of the Times.

Boutique Japan Featured Travelers Tokyo Tsukiji Market

Two of our travelers at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

3. Check The Market Calendar Before You Visit

Tsukiji Market is not open every day, so make sure to confirm it will be open when you want to visit.

In addition to holidays and Sundays, it’s usually (though not always) closed on Wednesdays.

You can always check the official Tsukiji Market calendar at Tsukiji’s English-language page.

Even though it’s in Japanese, it’s easy to read: simply avoid the days with a red dot, which mean it’s closed:

example tsukiji fish market calendar

Example of Tsukiji Market calendar: the red dots mean it’s closed

4. Getting to Tsukiji: Transportation Options

Tsukiji Market is located in central Tokyo’s Tsukiji district, not far from the upscale Ginza neighborhood.

Depending on where you’re traveling from, the best option to get here may be to walk, take the subway or take a taxi.

If you’re traveling by subway, the closest station is Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Toei Oedo subway line, and second closest is Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway line (a few minutes’ walk).

Note: If you’re planning on seeing the early-morning tuna auctions, you’ll need to take a taxi or walk as subways don’t start running until later in the morning.

5. To See or Not to See the Tuna Auctions

Speaking of tuna auctions, as one of our viewers – Claire from New York City – asked us, “Is it really worth waking up at 3 AM to see the tuna auctions?”

The answer is not clear cut, but if you don’t mind waking up around 3:00 am then you may want to at least consider going.

However, it is very important to note that you do NOT need to see the tuna auctions to enjoy Tsukiji Market. In fact, most people who visit Tsukiji come later in the morning, around 7:00, 8:00 or 9:00 AM.

If you’re thinking of going for the tuna auctions, first make sure they will be open. During busy seasons (for example, the end of the year) they are not open to the public. Check this metropolitan government page for alerts.

If after seeing fairly graphic photos or videos (like the one below) you decide you do want to try and see the auctions, you will need to wake up very early! On auction days space is limited to a maximum of 120 people (divided into two groups of 60 each).

Registration is free, but it cannot be done in advance and begins promptly at 5:00 am. People begin to line up earlier, so to try and guarantee entrance you’ll need to arrive as early as possible.

Registration takes place on the 1st floor of the aptly-named Fish Information Center (Osakana Fukyu Center), located by the market’s Kachidoki Bridge entrance (Kachidoki Hashi), off Harumi Dori street (see the point marked on this map):

6. Be Respectful: Follow The Rules

Remember that Tsukiji is not designed to be a tourist attraction, so be respectful of the people working and shopping here.

Photos are generally allowed, but use discretion and turn off your flash, which can be distracting and dangerous to fishmongers wielding knives.

Tsukiji Market Sign

Don’t enter the inner wholesale market until it officially opens to visitors at 10:00 am (formerly 9:00 am, prior to July 1st when regulations changed). If you arrive earlier you can spend as much time as you like exploring the fascinating outer market, which is full of shops and little restaurants.

The shops sell everything from knives to Japanese staples, with small restaurants offering delights ranging from sushi to ramen.

If you’re looking for a sushi breakfast, check out our friend and Tsukiji connoisseur Yukari Sakamoto’s recommended top sushi shops at Tsukiji Market.

tsukiji fish market maguro-don and gyu-don shops tokyo japan

Non-sushi alternatives at Tsukiji

7. Pack Light, Bring Cash & Stay Out of the Way

Despite its huge scale and incredible busyness, Tsukiji is a model of efficiency. But it is a very fast-paced market and, as a visitor, it is up to you to get out of the way.

It’s easy to get distracted with so many amazing things to see, but if you don’t stay alert, you might get run over.

Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes – such as sneakers or boots – that can get wet.

A small bag, backpack or purse may be fine, but definitely avoid bringing large backpacks, suitcases, or other unwieldy items.

If arriving early for the tuna auctions, make sure to dress warmly as you may be waiting for a while.

Tsukiji Fish Market Sign

If you can’t move nimbly through Tsukiji’s crowded narrow lanes, you’ll be in the way, inconvenience others, and won’t have as much fun.

If you’re a home cook, Tsukiji’s outer market is a fantastic place to buy top-quality Japanese knives and stock up on Japanese ingredients for your pantry.

Make sure to bring cash as few shops accept credit cards (see our article on money in Japan).

Tuna Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Whether you’re interested in visiting Tsukiji for the early-morning tuna auctions – or a bit later to experience the hustle and bustle of daily market life – we hope this guide helps you get the most of your visit to Tokyo’s historic Tsukiji Fish Market!

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Your guide to visiting Tokyo, Japan's Tsukiji Fish Market. Everything from when to visit, how to get here, the tuna auctions, where to eat, what to bring and more!
About Andres Zuleta

Andres is the founder of Boutique Japan.

Unlike a lot of travel companies, we don't work from a cubicle!

In 2005, I first moved from New York City to Tokyo to study Japanese, and living in Tokyo changed my life, leading me to want to dedicate my life to helping others really experience Japan, the way I have been able to do so!

  • MagentaSwallow

    Andres, thank you for this article. I love photography and I will be visiting Tokyo next week, and Tsukiji is on top of my list for places to visit in the city. I want to see the auction, so I plan to arrive there around 3:00am to register (saw someone suggested to another person on another website to arrive by 3:30am so that he/she could be guaranteed a slot in the 120 limit). My questions are:

    1) Between registering and the start of auction time, what are your suggestions for things to do to kill time? Is the outer market open during that time (between 3-5am)?

    2) Is it OK to wander around the outer market after securing a number for the auction, or I will lose my spot if I do so? Is passport required for the registration?

    3) After the auction is done, can visitors linger around the area to photograph the rows of tunas?

    4) Is it considered rude to the chef if I photograph my food order before I eat?

    5) Do you know how much is the taxi fare from Kayabacho subway station to Tsukiji at that early hours?

    Sorry for the tons of questions, but I wish to be fully prepared to maximize my photography opportunity, as I have very limited time in Tokyo. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

    • Hi Magenta-san, thanks for your questions! I will send you an email shortly to discuss ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Kimberley Cyr

    I have the same questions as MagentaSwallow. Arriving in Tokyo afternoon April 10, hope to visit Tsukiji April 11.

    • Hi Kimberley, thanks for your comment! We will be in touch with you soon by email.