Reviews An image of traditional Japanese breakfast of salmon and rice

Published on November 30th, 2011 | by Gareth


Tsukiji Fish Market

I really enjoy my seafood and am fortunate enough to live very close to the Sydney fish markets. Well except when the wind blows the wrong direction on a hot day, making for some fishy overtones. So when we visited Tokyo the chance to visit their fish markets was too good to miss.

Tsukiji fish market is the largest wholesale fish market in the world, making Sydney’s Pyrmont operation seems like a supermarket fish counter. Tsukiji shifts over 500,000 tons of seafood every year and provides employment to around 60,000 people. It’s massive. It was also a little disappointing on my part because I slept through my alarm and missed the tuna auctions and a fair bit of the market. Combination of a few beers and acute travel tiredness – acchh such an idiot Lathey! That said I was wowed by what I did see and am already thinking about my return visit to make up for my sleepiness.


Tuna auction – courtesy wikipedia

In addition to the fish market in Tokyo there is also a fruit and vegetable market at least the size of Sydney’s at Flemington selling everything from fresh wasabi to square, yes square water melons. And if all of this wasn’t enough for the cuisine crazed there is the profusion of stores selling Japanese cooking equipment, it was like Disneyland made of food! An unrivalled range of produce from the deep, a fascinating array of fresh vegetables and more chefy kit including some amazing knives, it was almost too much. Fair to say for once I was a little ill prepared having not done my pre travel research.

An image of fresh wasabi in crates

Fresh wasabi – this tastes amazing and so much better than powdered wasabi

An image of Matsutake mushrooms

Matsutake mushrooms – highly prized as they are difficult to cultivate. They grow wild in the pine forests of Japan

Ab image of a square melon

This was real, easy to store.

The throng of activity was exciting with turret trucks speeding about the place carrying newly auctioned fish, zipping so close you can hear the crisp white polystyrene crates squeak as they rubbed against each other. Everything with two or more wheels had been commandeered to move the fresh bounty, not even wheel barrows were exempt.

An image of turret trucks at Tsukiji

Turret trucks at Tsukiji fish market


An image of sword fish steak

Sword fish steak up close and personal

 An image of fresh fish roe in boxes at Tsukiji

Rows of roe


An image of tiger prawns at Tsukiji market.

These prawns we about 20cm long


Fresh tuna

These mammoth blocks of fresh tuna weighed between 5-10kgs


An image of a man sharpening a knife at Tsukiji fish market.

Sharpening knives ready for the next day


Fresh fish

Doesn’t get much fresher than this.


Tsukiji fish market workers

Still much work to be done


An image of fresh squid

Boxes of fresh squid



Cannot remember what these were but they looked great


An image of live clams and oysters in boxes of water

Live clams and oysters

Outside the inner circle of the fish market there were rows of small mostly understated cafes. Each one can only sit maybe 10 people along a long bar opposite the tight galley style kitchens. To console myself I settled down after the hysteria for a traditional Japanese breakfast of sashimi, rice, pickles and green tea. The fish couldn’t have been fresher and the pickled turnip was sweet and crunchy. The diners were by looks of things mainly locals (they weren’t wielding digital SLRs about like me and the other tourists) which was nice. Watching the kitchen staff go about their chores to the hum of the radio and sipping green tea in that bar after such a simple but delicious meal together with the excitement of exploring the market made this one of my trip highlights and it was surprisingly relaxing.

An image of a full traditional Japanese breakfast

Traditional Japanese breakfast


An image of Japanese pickles

Pickled turnip

I am really looking forward to getting back there sometime soon for more inspiring memories. I will just make sure to set a back up alarm next time!

An image of a traditional Japanese breakfast of salmon and rice

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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

10 Responses to Tsukiji Fish Market

  1. Isn’t Tsukiji amazing!?? But that square watermelon? 😮 That is really mindblowing!

  2. A trip to Tsukiji is a must, shame you missed the auction, still an amazing place though. I think I walked around with my mouth open and big eyed, such an experience.

  3. Tsukiji is incredible! I think you may have eaten at the same place as us too! Was there a prawn head in your miso soup?

  4. Sophie says:

    This place looks incredible! I am heading to Japan soon so will definitely try to fit in a trip to Tsukiji market. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Places to Visit in Japan | The Quick Ten

  6. Pingback: Top Ten Places to Visit in Japan | The Quick Ten

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