Fish markets… a curious thing is that so far, none of the fish markets I visited felt remotely like a dingy, dirty wet market. I guess fish markets are very interesting indeed, especially the famous Tsukiji Market which is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo.
I took a trip to Japan a few years ago and experienced a whirlwind of amazing sights and flavors. The famed Tsukiji Market was high on my list, and my adventure exploring its aisles made a lasting impression. I returned in April from another voyage to Japan, and wanted to share with you on Tsukiji Fish Market. It will always be an enigma with its bustling foot trucks, noisy banter, and the viscera of fish and sea creatures everywhere. I am humbled, meandering the wet lanes lined with infinite stalls. The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere make Tsukiji Market a renowned place worldwide, being one of the world's largest fish markets.
It was an exceptionally cold morning when I stepped out of my hotel at Shimbashi and found a way to Tsukiji Fish Market. Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market (筑地市场) was listed as one of the "must go" places in my Itinerary. These photographs are meant to share my wonder and my bewiderment, documenting the routine activities of these men and the unusual, beautiful fish who give their lives to them. Unfortunately, the Tsukiji Fish Market won’t be here for long. The wholesale market is slated to move to the nearby Toyosu district in November this year which means you don’t have much time left to visit. The new market will be a modern marvel, but somehow nothing can replace the character and history of Tsukiji.
Tsukiji Fish Market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions are taking place, and an outer market whose retail shops and restaurants cater to the public. A few sushi restaurants are also found in the inner market.
Tsukiji Fish Market is located in central Tokyo’s Tsukiji district, not far from the upscale Ginza neighbourhood. Depending on where you’re traveling from, the best option to get here may be to walk, take the subway or take a taxi.
If you’re traveling by subway, the closest station is Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Toei Oedo subway line, and second closest is Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway line (a few minutes’ walk).
Checking out Daisada for some tamago on a stick.
I grabbed a bite from this stall selling tamagoyaki or (a favourite of mine) called Daisada. Tamago is a sweet sort of omelette.
The specialty store has been open for over 80 years and is still going strong. The omelettes are freshly prepared in the kitchen at the back by seasoned chefs.
At just ¥120 per stick, this is a great snack if you’re hoping to fill your tummy a little before you start your queuing at any of the sushi restaurants.
The outer edge of the market is lined with small restaurants serving dishes prepared with fresh fish delivered by the fishmongers mere steps away.
I know I was totally late that day. I should be there before the sun is even up because that’s when the action happens and plus its a long wait to get a taste of the famous Sushi Dai. Just look at the long queues.
After kicking-off your morning with a healthy sushi breakfast, take a little tour around the fish market's surroundings - called the 'outside market' - where several products, from local ingredients to Japanese kitchen utensils, are sold for astoundingly low prices. There, you'll find your nori seaweed, your chopsticks, dried baby sardines too adorable to eat, bamboo steamers, bowls, and bento boxes. A great place to shop for the home cook, and a wonderful way to spend a morning.
The sight of countless kinds of fresh fish, shellfish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji a special treat for all on lookers.
Crab is one of the popular ingredients that are in season in winter. What is known in Japan as the “three major types of crab” refers to the red king crab, the snow crab, and the hairy crab.
This is a sea urchin steamed bun. The inner yellowish filling has a texture like a soft fish cake, and is made from a mixture of kneaded sea urchin, dried sea urchin, fish and chicken cartilage. The outer layer is made of flour and bamboo charcoal powder, thus black in colour.
Another delicacy is the red snow crab bun! The white outer soft layer is filled with tender snow crab meat.
Saito Fish Market is most famous for the raw oysters that can be enjoyed all year round. There are two types of oyster available at Saito Fish Market and the fresh, creamy oysters are extremely delicious. Saito Fish Market handles oysters taken from different places in Japan so you may be able to enjoy different tastes by visiting once in the morning and then again in the evening.
You'll probably finish your day at Tsukiji around noon, and whether you then want to grab a coffee, go for a nap, or energetically continue your day in the big city, give yourself a pat of the back for doing so much so early in the day. It really is worth it, and not just for the incredible food you'll find at every corner of the area, but more importantly for the experience of being in the biggest and best fish market in the world.
The lively Tsukiji Market has become one of Japan’s must-visit sites, attracting not only foreign tourists, but also visitors from within Japan, eager to get a glimpse – and perhaps taste – of the freshest seafood in the city. The crowds of visitors have brought plenty of changes to the market – beyond the piled-high stacks of tuna, jumbo crabs and other deep sea delicacies, you'll now find an increasingly large number of shops selling street snacks to hungry tourists, eager to sample the enticing seafood on offer.
In November 2016, Tsukiji market will be moved to the new location to make way for the 2020 Olympic Games. I wonder what will happen to this current location? There are so many things going on here. The shops surrounding are alive because Tsukiji market located where it is right now. So if you are planning to visit Tokyo this or next year, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit this market.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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