Tsukiji Market (Tsukiji Shijo, in Japanese) is one of Tokyo’s top attractions – and with good reason.
Comprised of a bustling outer market (jogai) and inner wholesale market (jonai), Tsukiji is an amazing place if you love markets and are eager to learn about — and eat! — Japanese food.
While you have probably heard that the inner wholesale market is scheduled to move in the near future, the good news for food and market lovers is that the colorful outer market will remain.
Because there is so much conflicting information about Tsukiji on the internet — and because we get so many questions about it from our travelers — we put together this simple guide to visiting Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market!
Originally published in February 2015, we’ve updated and added to the original article.
Check Tsukiji’s Calendar Before You Visit
As with most markets around the world, Tsukiji is not open every day. It’s typically closed on Sundays, holidays, and most Wednesdays — so make sure to check its calendar before you visit.
Despite being in Japanese, it’s fairly straightforward to check the official Tsukiji Market calendar.
Simply avoid the days marked in red!
Getting to Tsukiji Market: Transportation Options
Tsukiji Market is located in the heart of central Tokyo, near the upscale Ginza neighborhood, the lovely Hamarikyu Garden, and lively Shimbashi.
Map of Tsukiji Market
If you’re traveling by public transit, the closest station is the Toei Oedo line’s Tsukiji Shijo Station.
Also nearby, the second closest station is the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line’s Tsukiji Station.
Naturally, you can also walk or take a taxi, depending on your point of origin. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you are planning on seeing Tsukiji’s early-morning tuna auctions, you will need to walk or take a taxi, as public transit does not operate until later in the morning.
Be Respectful: Follow Tsukiji Market’s Rules
When visiting Tsukiji, keep in mind that it was not originally designed to be a tourist attraction — though it has become one — so above all be respectful of the locals working and shopping here.
Despite its scale and busyness, Tsukiji is a model of efficiency, but it’s very fast-paced. It’s easy to get distracted with so many amazing things to see, but if you don’t stay alert you may end up in the way.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your visit, and avoid getting in the way:
- A small bag, backpack or purse may be fine, but definitely avoid bringing large backpacks, suitcases, or other unwieldy items (leave these at your hotel or in a station locker)
- Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes – such as sneakers or boots – that can get wet
- Avoid perfume or cologne as this can interfere with vendors’ and shoppers’ sense of smell (and taste)
If you can’t move nimbly through Tsukiji’s crowded narrow lanes, you’ll be in the way – and won’t have as much fun!
Additional Rules for the Inner Wholesale Market (Jonai)
- Don’t enter the inner market until it officially opens to visitors at 11:00 am
- Opt for subdued colored clothing
- Photography is generally prohibited, though some shops may not mind discreet photography
- Flash is always a no-no, as it can be distracting and dangerous to fishmongers wielding knives
Savor Tsukiji’s Outer Market (Jogai)
While Tsukiji’s inner market used to be the main attraction, in recent years the outer market has become the highlight for most food-loving travelers.
Tsukiji’s jogai is an incredible place to immerse yourself in Tokyo’s varied and delicious cuisine. If you’re a home cook, it’s also a fantastic place to buy top-quality Japanese knives and stock up on Japanese ingredients for your pantry.
In the lively outer market you will find lanes and alleys packed with a colorful array of shops and small restaurants including:
- Ramen stalls and tiny sushi counters
- Vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to fruits and vegetables
- Purveyors of Japanese staples such as tea, kombu, katsuobushi, and nori
- And much more
Make sure to bring cash as few shops accept credit cards (read more about cash, ATMs, and credit cards in Japan).
There are countless places to eat at Tsukiji, though you will find that some shops have long lines from early in the morning.
Tsukiji’s Inner Market (Jonai)
Over the past few years, the move date for Tsukiji’s wholesale market has been postponed numerous times, but it is currently scheduled to move in October of this year (2018).
Tsukiji’s jonai is where professionals shop for seafood, but in recent years it has become so crowded with tourists that there have been increasing regulations preventing non-professionals from entering.
For a taste of the market’s many fascinating stories, check out the Asahi Shimbun’s series, Tsukiji: Kitchen of the Times.
Per current regulations, non-professionals are only permitted to enter the inner market after 11:00 am (until June 2018, it was 10:00 am).
By this time of day, not only are there huge amounts of tourists — there may be delays in entering as security guards manage the line for safety purposes — but much of the wholesale activity will have considerably dwindled.
Visiting the New Toyosu Market
After the market’s move to the Toyosu district of Tokyo, it is expected that it will be possible to visit the new wholesale market, though it may not be worthwhile for anyone other than serious seafood “geeks.”
Apart from being in a relatively inconvenient location, it does not appear that up-close viewing of the offerings and activity will be possible at the Toyosu Market.
To See or Not to See the Tuna Auctions
Is it worth waking up incredibly early (or staying up very late) to see Tsukiji’s famous tuna auctions?
The answer is not clear cut, but if you don’t mind waking up outrageously early (e.g., around 2:00 or 3:00 am) then you may want to at least consider going.
However, it’s important to note that you do not need to see the tuna auctions to experience Tsukiji, and most people who visit the market tend to do so later in the morning.
If you’re thinking of trying to see the tuna auctions, you’ll first need to make sure they will be taking place – and open to the public.
For example, during busy times of year — such as around New Year’s — they are typically not open to the public. Consult Tsukiji’s English-language page, and this Tokyo Metropolitan Government homepage for alerts and information.
If your timing works, and you decide to brave the early morning, you will need to wake up extremely early (or stay up very late)!
On auction days, space is limited to a maximum of 120 people, divided into two groups of 60 each. Registration — which is free, and begins promptly at 5:00 am — cannot be done in advance, and people begin to line up early. Make sure to dress warmly as you may be waiting for a while.
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):
Map of Fish Information Center
We hope this guide helps you get the most of your visit to Tokyo’s historic Tsukiji Market!