Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tokyo Travel Diaries: Tsukiji Fish Market

When reading up on where to go in Tokyo, you'll probably see Tsukiji Market on the top of most lists. This fish market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place, and an outer market whose retail shops and restaurants cater to the public.

Anyway, hubby and I really wanted to go to the tuna auction, but we heard you need to be there by at least 3AM to 4AM in order to get in. Since the trains are not running during that time, we would need to take a taxi from where we were staying in Shinjuku to Tsukiji. And as you know, taxi rides in Japan cost a fortune.

If you really want to visit the auction, I think the best thing to do would be to book an overnight Airbnb or hotel near the area so you can just walk in the wee hours of the morning (then just transfer na lang to your preferred location after diba?). My friends who took a cab before said that their taxi fare was about P3k which is about the same price of a cheap room. But if you're a group of 4 maybe taking a cab is ok since you can split the fare. But since it was just hubby and I, we didn't want to splurge that much on it. And there was no guarantee that we would actually get in since the number of visitors to the tuna auction is limited to 120 per day. The first group of 60 visitors will be admitted to the auction between 5:25 and 5:50, while a second group of 60 visitors will be admitted between 5:50 and 6:15. This was also in late November so the weather was pretty cold already. The temperature during the day was around 10°C - 14°C and I was already FREEZING. What more if we were lined up outside at 3AM and had to wait for 2 hours??? Pass!

So, we just decided to have brunch there. If you've done any research prior to visiting here, you'll find that the top 2 places to eat would be Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai. It's so popular that waiting time would be around 3 hours! Well, we got to Tsukiji at around 10AM and honestly, it was a bit overwhelming at first since there were so many people already lined up everywhere.

There are lots of narrow lanes like these where the restaurants are located. As you can see, it was so crowded! But I guess maybe it was because of the time as well which was nearing lunch.

Anyway, hubby scoped out the different restaurants since he was the one who really wanted to eat here. After a while, he called me to a different line since it was shorter and hubby said he was ok with the food being served by that place. You actually wait at the side of the building and then when it's near your turn, they call you to the front of the restaurant.

Oh, and hubby did see Daiwa Sushi but the line was already so long as expected.

snacks while waiting

Anyway, after about 45 minutes, we were finally called to the front of the restaurant which was named Kaisendon Oedo. Here, they'll take your order while waiting for the people inside to finish eating.

their super friendly order taker

They mostly served seafood rice bowls and hubby just pointed to the stuff he liked on the menu.

Finally, we entered the restaurant after another 25 minutes. The place was really small and good thing we were seated in the corner so we had a bit more space and privacy.

We ordered salmon, uni, and tuna over rice, then a side order of hamachi. The uni was super sweet and according to hubby the best he's ever had. We only ate for about 15 minutes since you can't really stay long knowing so many other people were waiting outside.

You can also visit the wholesale area which is open to visitors after 9AM. This place is also very busy with people, trucks, forklifts, and small vehicles moving about. To be honest, I'm a bit squeamish with fish but it is definitely an experience.

I read that the Tsukiji Fish Market will move to a new location (Toyosu) by November 2016, in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. So if you're planning a trip to Japan soon, definitely visit the market while you still can. :)

Get There and Around
Tsukiji Market is just above Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo Subway Line. Alternatively, it can be reached in a five minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Subway Line. The closest JR station is Shimbashi, from where you can walk to the market in about 15 minutes.

From Tokyo Station
Take the Marunouchi Subway Line from Tokyo to Ginza (3 minutes) and transfer to the Hibiya Subway Line to get to Tsukiji Station (3 minutes). The fare is 170 yen.

From Shinjuku Station
Take the Oedo Subway Line directly from Shinjuku Station to Tsukiji Shijo Station. The one way trip takes 20 minutes and costs 270 yen.

Outer Market: varies by shop, typically 5:00 to 14:00
Wholesale Area: open to visitors after 9:00am
CLOSED: Sundays, national holidays, and some Wednesdays

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