Rise and shine
Sunrise over Tokyo, and the Tsukiji Market kicks into action
Bluefin tuna await auction at the world’s biggest fish market: opened in 1935, Tsukiji Market sold 2,000 tons of seafood per day worth around $14m. After the final tuna sale on 6 October, the so-called “inner market” has now moved to Toyosu while the public “outer market” (known for its fish stalls and sushi bars) remains open.
Racked to the gills
Around 1,000 tuna are laid in the auction hall each day; bidders have up to 30 minutes to assess quality before the auction begins – usually by only a small cut in the tail.
At the sound of the cow bell, the auction opens. Licensed traders use hand signals to place bids. The 2013 record high sale was $1.7m for a single 222kg bluefin tuna.
One of around 700 nakaoroshi gyousha (wholesalers) who buy fish at auction to sell to restaurants; some can lose tens of thousands of yen on a single fish if, once cut, its quality is only passable.
Dubbed “Japan’s Kitchen”, Tokyo’s chefs can be seen shopping for seafood from the “outer market” stalls, which remain open to the public. Tours can be arranged via
Early morning queues of two hours are common for what’s considered Tokyo’s best sushi at Tsukiji’s restaurants. Earlier this year, these ran a “we’re not moving” campaign to let tourists know they would stay open after the wholesale market moves to Toyosu.
Tsukiji’s street food snacks (like Saito Suisan’s oysters) are usually less pricey than its high-grade sashimi bars.
End of an era
After 83 years, tuna auctions now take place at Tsukiji’s $3.5 billion replacement, Toyosu Market, now open to visitors.