We spent the morning of our first actual day in Tokyo at the Tsukiji Fish Market. Our initial plan was to check into our hotel room, take a quick 1-2 hour nap, and then catch a taxi to Tsukiji to see the live fish auction. The difficulty with seeing the fish auction is that it is first come, first served and they only let the first 120 people in line see the auction, split between two shifts – one from 5:25 am- 5:50 am and the other from 5:50 am to 6:15 am. While it was difficult to figure out exactly how early we would need to stand in line to assure a spot, several online sites suggested that people get in line an hour or more prior to the opening at 5:00 am! Thus, our original plan was to get there sometime between 3:30 am – 4:00 am to ensure that we got in.
In the end, our plans were a little too ambitious. We decided against the fish auction and let Connor get a few more hours of sleep. Looking back, I think that skipping the auction was the right decision because forcing Connor to wait in line for several hours would have been a miserable experience and, since we left the hotel later, we were able to take a 15 minute metro ride on the Hibiya line instead of catching a taxi.
We arrived at Tsukiji at around 6:30 am. We walked through the outer market and stood in line for breakfast. Before leaving on our trip, Ev did a lot of online research on sushi restaurants around the Tsukiji area and he decided on Iwasa Sushi. It wasn’t one of those crazy sushi places where you wait in line for hours, but it had good quality sushi for a reasonable price. We got to the restaurant early enough that our wait in line was only about 30 minutes. Ev and I both ordered the omakase set, which came with about a dozen nigiri sushi and 6 pieces of tekka maki for 3,900 yen.
The restaurant was small (14 seats) and so busy that I didn’t feel right stopping to take pictures of the sushi as it came out. However, the picture on the menu (shown above) was a pretty good representation of what we were served. It wasn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, but for the 3,900 yen price point, the quality of the fish was very good. I also learned that Connor really loves ikura. He ate the entire ikura nigiri sushi by himself. Overall it was a perfect first meal to start our Japan adventure.
After breakfast, we browsed the outer market, which consists of several blocks of retail shops that cater to tourists selling fruits, produce, ready to eat street food, and other Japanese goods (knives, ceramics, souvenirs, etc). Ev bought these super juicy strawberries, which Connor loved and promptly devoured. While the strawberries weren’t super sweet, they were definitely the juiciest strawberries I have ever eaten. Connor had streaks of red strawberry juice dripping down his arms, chin and neck from eating the strawberries. Thank goodness he was wearing a red shirt because if he was wearing a light colored shirt, we probably would have had to through the shirt away.
At 9:00 am the inner market (the wholesale portion of Tsukiji) opened up to the public and we briefly walked around. The only other fish market that I’ve ever been to is Pike’s Market in Seattle. Let’s just say that Tsukiji is nothing like Pike’s. As one of the biggest fish markets in the world, Tsukiji has an enormous selection of seafood, fruits, and produce for sale and is very active. There were people zipping around the narrow lanes of the inner market on forklifts, small trucks, scooters and other small vehicles the entire time we were there. Although we tried to say out of the way as much as we could, I really felt like we were a nuisance to the vendors. The vendors must really hate all the tourists because we just get in the way and never buy anything. With that said, I don’t blame them because I’d be pretty pissed too if someone came into my office and started taking pictures of me while I was trying to make a living. I’m sure the vendors will be much happier when they move to their new location in November of this year.In the end, even though we didn’t stay that long in the inner market, I am glad that I got to see it in the soon-to-be “old location” before it moved. Also, Connor really enjoyed looking and pointing to all the shellfish, eels, and fish.
Iwasa Sushi (http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm) ♦♦♦♦– CASH ONLY
Open ： Monday to Friday 6:00 am – 2:30 pm; Saturday 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
Closed ： Sundays/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
Location: See website for map. It is the first building of the Outside market facing the inner market. Look for the bright orange curtain
Tsukiji Fish Market (http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm) ♦♦♦♦♦–
Open : Outer market opens at 5:00 am,
Inner market opens to the public at 9:00 am
Closed: Sunday/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
To attend auction: Meet at the Osakana Fukyu Center by the Kachidoki Gate before 5:00 am
Closest stations: Tsukiji Station (Hibiya line); Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Oedo line)