This is easily one of my favorite moments from my trip to Tokyo with Hunter. I have dreamed about going here for years!
Now, before you get too excited: No, we did not see the famous tuna auction. We talked it over and decided we would rather sleep than travel all the way across Tokyo at a ridiculous hour in the morning to possibly be one of the 120 people they allow to watch. Also, it turned out that even if we had wanted to we couldn’t have seen it anyway; there was a sign near the market when we got there that said the auction was closed to tourists until mid-January or so, because the market is even busier during the new year.
My first reaction when we turned a corner and found ourselves in a busy street with stalls selling everything you could possibly imagine was, “Hmm…. This isn’t quite what I was expecting… I’m pretty sure it’s indoors…” I figured we were in the wrong place; turns out I was partially right. We looked around anyway. There were stalls selling tuna, beef, crab, knives, fruits, vegetables, kimchi, aprons; you name it, it was probably there. Both of us had lots of fun seeing all the different kinds of fish and the huge tuna heads some vendors had on display. I never knew how big tuna actually were until I saw those heads!! This area was packed with people and restaurants; we ended up getting an eel kabob each and then shared another seafood kabob which I will write about next week 😉
Eventually, I figured it was time to find the real market. The one I’ve seen pictures of. The one that’s in one of my favorite movies, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. After climbing to the top of a nearby store, we saw a cluster of buildings that could possibly be it; so we headed in that direction. We turned another corner, and suddenly, there it was! The indoor market!
It was just as I had pictured it. Forklifts and mopeds were going everywhere, there were stacks upon stacks of styrofoam containers (probably all filled with fish on their way to restaurants), the air was faintly fishy, and the inside was damp. Most of the business happens in the early morning, and since tourists are not allowed in until 10 AM (so they don’t interrupt business), by the time we got there most of the stalls were being cleaned up. I didn’t care. Just getting to walk around was enough for me. If you want to see what the indoor market looks like, look it up on Google; there were signs everywhere that said, “No Photography!!” so I respected them (unlike some other tourists) and didn’t take any pictures. I will remember going there for the rest of my life.
I definitely recommend visiting the fish market if you get the chance before it closes down in fall of 2018. Also, be aware that this is a fish market FIRST and a tourist attraction SECOND. People do business here. Don’t get in their way or take pictures without their permission. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and don’t bring big bags, suitcases, or strollers. The isles are pretty narrow, and you risk knocking something over or blocking the way for others. As I said earlier, the inner market is closed to tourists until 10 am, so please don’t enter before then. I can’t tell you much about the tuna auction since I didn’t go, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for that info 🙂 All I know is that they allow a max of 120 people a day to observe, and that it’s on a first come, first serve basis. So get there early!