Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market is a top destination for Japan’s tourists. That is, if you don’t mind waking up before dawn to wait in line for the live tuna auctions. There are only 120 spots available for visitors wanting to witness gorgeous giant tuna being sold and it’s first come, first served, meaning– if you snooze, you lose.
There are two sessions- one at 5:25AM and one at 5:50AM, but when Peter and I visited the market, the security guard told us we’d want to arrive by 2:30AM the next day in order to get a spot. We decided to skip very early morning and hours of waiting and instead went for an early wander around the market around 5AM before a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji.
At this hour you’ll still see the nifty carts whizzing all through the market in addition to lines of tourists waiting for 5:30AM sashimi. Remember, this isn’t just a tourist spot. This is an active, working market with nearly 500 varieties of fish being sold and lots of trolleys and trucks moving big piles of seafood.
Sadly the market is closing and relocating in the next year and access will be limited to the public, so we were happy to get up early to witness the hectic work and wait in line for the most amazing sushi experience at Yamazaki.
Tsukiji Market Building 6
We were greeted with green tea to keep warm before we were ushered into the restaurant right at 5:30 AM.
There are only 12 seats at the restaurant but luckily we were one of the first groups in line and enjoyed the first cuts of fresh fish that morning – straight from the market. When I say fresh, I mean, at one point he put a live prawn on the counter that took a stroll in front of us before it was turned into sashimi.
I indulged in a special set and man on man was it incredible (and not just because it had been 7 months since I had a proper sushi meal). Lines can get long and the restaurant closes at 2PM so it’s best to come early. You can’t visit Japan without trying sushi and the experience at Yamazaki is one not to be missed!
To get to the Tsukiji Fish Market: Oedo line to Tsukiji-Shijo station, exit A1 or Hibiya line of the Tokyo Metro to Tsukiji station. If you’re going early in the AM, the trains may be closed so just hop in a taxi.