We spent the better part of a morning visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market the other day (pronounced skee-gee). This is one of those things we most looked forward to on our trip to Tokyo and it did not disappoint. We wandered around the shops (the outer market) first for several hours. You can purchase both fresh fish, cooked or prepared fish or knives, dishes, etc. Be ready for the crowds, at least on a Saturday. The guidebook says it is closed on Sunday, though we didn’t test that theory for obvious reasons.
We ate some of the best grilled scallops (above, notice the grilling is done with a mini-blow torch) and a huge piece of unagi (eel) on a stick. Both were delicious.
If you venture out and over to the side where the fish are available for wholesale (the inner market) or in any of the major thouroughfares, watch out for forklifts, bicycles and other vehicles. They won’t take kindly to you getting in the way. We skipped the early morning auction (imagine this is just what it sounds like, with an actual auction taking place, though we skipped it so we don’t really know) and did not regret it. If you are interested, however, the auctions run from ~5 to 10am and we heard people line up starting as early as 4 am. During sunlit hours, we felt in the way plenty without disrupting daily commerce.
Tip: bring plastic bags for covering your shoes (our guides, the Maruyamas, have clearly done this before) and bring some hand wipes for after the bags are removed. You will be very happy your shoes are not covered in fish muck at the end of your tour. Also be wary, not all displays or vendors love you taking photos, so check the signage before snapping.
Some more fun facts about Tsukiji, it employees between 60-65,000 people; more than 400 varieties of fish or sold here and they process at least 700,000 metric tons of fish per year (source: Wikipedia).