AM TOKYO Tsukiji
AM TOKYO introduces unique ways to spend morning time in Tokyo. Today I would like to introduce Tsukiji Fish Market. As the market area is scheduled to move to a different place (Toyosu area), it is highly recommended to visit now and experience the one and only atmosphere.
Arrives at Tsukiji-Shijo station
Tsukiji-Shijo station of Toei-Oedo Line is the nearest station from the market. When I stepped out of the exit, all I could see was the high rises and a busy street. Wondering if I have made the wrong exit, I found the map right next to the exit. Then I realized that I was just facing the other way around.
As I was entering the market through the entrance, I saw a security guard talking with a tourist carrying a big suitcase. I only found out later that it is prohibited to bring big luggage into the market because the alley of the intermediate wholesaler's area is so narrow that walking around with big luggage could damage fish and other products. Please be aware that the market is not a tourist attraction, but a place where people actually work. So please do not take any big luggage with you, or leave it in the coin locker before going through the entrance.
There was a sign that showed the restricted area in the market, but it was difficult for me to decipher it so I just followed the other tourist group. I suggest looking up how to get to the market beforehand. Please note that tourist can only go inside of the intermediate wholesaler's area from 10 AM.
As I was following the Asian family group, I arrive at the area called "Uogashi Yokocho," where nearly 100 shops and restaurants gather in a narrow space. There are shops selling seasonings, dried goods, Japanese pickles and cooking utensils. Here you can enjoy various types of restaurants, such as sushi bars, Tempura, soba noodle, tonkatsu, curry, chinese, and even pizza! I saw several ques in front of the famous restaurants.
I found one shop that was crowded with many foreign tourists. The shop sells kitchen knives and other utensils that I have never seen before. It was interesting to see unique utensils such as the one to scale a fish, to bone a fish, and a sickle-like utensil that I have no idea what it is for.
To the intermediate wholesaler's market (Jonai) area
The moment I set foot in the intermediate wholesaler's market area, it was like wandering into a different world. Numbers of small shops made of wood were crammed along the narrow alley, with vintage name boards representing the history of each shop. I saw some old posters from Showa period (maybe 30 or 40 years ago) posted in the shops, and wooden ladder hanging from the roof. Although I don't know what Showa period was like, but such a scene somehow made me nostalgic.
Most of the people at Tsukiji are robust and working briskly, which impressed me a lot. While seeing their serious attitude toward the work, I came to think that maybe a tourist like me should not be here. As I was walking, lost in my own thoughts, I was startled by the old man with giant kitchen knife rushing out from nowhere.
The thing that left me the strongest impression was the various "sounds" in the market. The sound of cutting huge block of ice, splashing sound of a water, sound of engines of small motorcycles and turret trucks racing around, sound of freights bouncing on the rear deck of the truck, and the sound of active exchanges between the people in the market. I was overwhelmed by the energy generated by those sounds. You can enjoy shopping and delicious food both inside and outside of the market, but you can only experience this energy of sounds here in the intermediate wholesaler's market area.
What makes visiting Tsukiji in the morning so special?
It was my first time going inside of the intermediate wholesaler's market area, and I was absolutely fascinated by its atmosphere and energy created by the people working there. I realized that the passion for their profession makes the food on our table safe and delicious.
Although it is uncertain at the moment when the market will move to the new address, you won't be able to appreciate the history of the market after the removal. So if you have a morning time to spare while in Tokyo, do not miss out Tsukiji!