You’ve probably heard that the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market shut down and a new market was opened in its place, in Toyosu. Here’s everything you need to know regarding the relocation of this Tokyo landmark and a full guide to the new market.
When one market closes, another opens only slightly to the east …
… you know that old saying.
First, Tsukiji Market was slated to close its doors in November 2016. Then the move got pushed back. And back. And back some more. But the relocation happened at last, with the wholesale fish market officially re-opening at Toyosu on October 11, 2018. Over 600 merchants made the move.
Important note: The market that moved to Toyosu is the city-run wholesale market — what was commonly called the “inner market” at Tsukiji. The “outer market” — the unofficial collection of shops and restaurants that grew up around the wholesale market — remains in Tsukiji. So there is still a lot to see (and eat) at Tsukiji. And there are some great tours available for an insider’s view.
With the opening of the new market in Toyosu, however, time has officially run out for those who had hoped to see the live tuna auction in its original state at Tsukiji. You can now see the auction at the Toyosu facility, though the experience is very different. Find out what to expect, and when, below.
- Where is Toyosu Market? (And other important questions)
- What is Toyosu Market like?
- The tuna auction (open again)
- Can I see boats?
- Can I buy seafood?
- Shops and restaurants
- The rooftop and fruit & vegetable market
- Things to do nearby
- What’s happened to Tsukiji?
- A few facts about the move
- Video guide to Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo
Where is Toyosu Market? And other important questions
Toyosu Market is in Toyosu, an island of reclaimed land in Tokyo’s Kōtō Ward. The market is housed in three interconnected buildings — two for wholesale seafood and one for wholesale fruit and veg.
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Fun fact: Toyosu is almost twice the size of Tsukiji, at 40.7ha vs. 23.1ha, more than allowing the market to retain its status as the biggest fish market in the world.
When is the market open?
Toyosu Market’s regular opening hours are 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., though many shops and the information center only open from 7 a.m. Toyosu is closed on Sundays, national holidays, and often on Wednesdays. Check the schedule here.
How do I get to Toyosu Market?
The new wholesale market has its very own train station, Shijōmae Station, on the Yurikamome line (the same line that takes you to Odaiba). The buildings are connected directly to Shijōmae Station via an overhead roofed passage, making it good for all weather conditions.
Does it cost anything to enter Toyosu Market?
Admission to Toyosu’s fish market is free, and you can watch auctions from dedicated viewing platforms (more on that below). So you can save that yen for meals at the restaurants in the complex, many of them direct transplants from Tsukiji.
You’ll need to pick up a visitor’s pass when you enter the buildings, though.
What can I expect at the new Tokyo fish market?
The experience at Toyosu is very different from the lively, messy but also charming and authentic Tsukiji. It has a fairly sterile atmosphere and only certain, clearly-marked areas are accessible to visitors. The times of tourists getting up close and personal with the tuna are over. Your experience is all behind glass windows now.
From the intermediate wholesale building, you have a very limited view of some of the market passages from large windows. Tourists are not allowed on the market floor, and no, not after 10 or 11 a.m. or anytime either. But you can see turret trucks on display (photo opportunity!) and find some cool information on the seasonal fish of Toyosu/Tsukiji.
The whole Toyosu experience is, in general, well designed for visitors: direct access from Shijōmae Station and a lot of info boards, signs, and maps everywhere. All the areas that vistors can enter are clearly market (but there aren’t a lot, and you’ll feel very much on the fringes). It is nice, clean, and organized, which we guess some people might prefer to the comparative chaos of the old Tsukiji.
Tsukiji’s old shrine stayed put, but a new shrine has been erected facing the waterfront. It’s called Uogashi Suijinja, which means something like “shrine for a fish market on the shore.”
How much time do I need to see Toyosu Market?
We recommend allowing two hours for the full experience. This includes the tuna auction, fish market, and fruit and veg section. Wear comfy shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
What is the best time to go to Toyosu Market?
If you want to see the tuna auction, you should get there as close to 5 a.m. as possible, and by 6:30 a.m. at the absolute latest (though on some days that may still be too late). If you aren’t set on the auction and just want to see some market activity, you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn; you just need to be there before around 8 a.m. Most of the main market activity finishes up by around 9 a.m.
If you simply want to eat some sushi, you can go later — and skip the tuna/wholesale fish market area. Note that many market restaurants close by around 1 or 2 p.m. — earlier if they’ve run out of ingredients for the day. So don’t come too late if you plan to eat.
The tuna auction at Toyosu
The famed tuna auction is back after a lengthy hiatus due to COVID-19, but slots for the best viewing platform are very limited. Here’s what you need to know.
Where is the tuna auction held?
The tuna auction is held in the fish wholesale building. Walking from Shijōmae Station, your first stop will be an information area that tells you about the market in English and Japanese, through posters.
After an area with shops, you’ll enter another information room that showcases a model of the largest bluefin tuna ever sold at Tsukiji, weighing almost 500kg. That was in 1986; today, such a huge catch would be unlikely to happen due to the tuna’s extremely fragile status.
From this room, a corridor leads to the tuna auction area. You’ll find yourself in a gallery one floor above the action — and all behind glass. The board that explains the buyers’ hand signs for the auction is helpful for understanding what’s happening below.
Fun fact: The tuna auction area has green floors, while all other areas have white floors. Why? Buyers determine the quality and therefore price of the fish by checking its red meat. Red stands out best against a green backdrop.
Beyond the gallery, there is a special observation deck on a lower floor. This offers the most intimate experience possible, as the glass does not extend to the ceiling, so you can hear the auction going on.
But — as it is open at the top — it may be rather chilly! The auction area is cooled down to almost zero degrees Celsius, so bring a jumper, even in summer. If you have a ticket to the deck (see below for details on how to get one), you can enter it via the elevator at the end of the upper-floor gallery.
What time does the tuna action start?
The tuna auction takes place daily from about 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. If you’re happy watching from the upper-floor observation windows, you don’t need to sign up beforehand; just be there as early as possible and try to grab a good spot.
How to watch the tuna auction
The gallery opens to visitors from 5 a.m. and auction prep is already in full swing at that hour. However, the gallery is the B-grade option for viewing the tuna auction, and you might leave having seen nothing but a bunch of people’s heads. Though microphones transmit the auction sounds from below.
Access to the observation deck
The Toyosu tuna auction is best viewed from the special deck on the lower floor. Access to this deck is by application only, with applications open for about a week each month, for a spot the following month.
Public viewing of the tuna auction has resumed after a hiatus, but the process and rules are a little different due to the ongoing pandemic. Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know:
- Only 27 people will be allowed onto the viewing deck each morning.
- The viewing time is between 5:55 a.m. and 6:25 a.m.
- You need to reserve in advance online (currently only in Japanese) or over the phone.
- Applications open during the first week of the month for the following month; for example, applications for the whole of July open the first week of June.
- If there are more applicants than available spots, selections will take place by lottery.
- You can still view the auction from the second-floor observation windows, without worrying about an application.
More information about the tuna auction viewing process, including the phone instructions, can be found on the Toyosu Market website, but note that it is currently only in Japanese.
Submitting an application to see the tuna auction does not guarantee you a place on the lower-floor observation deck; it works on a lottery system, with the results communicated about a week after the submission period has ended. If you are lucky enough to get a place, you’ll be assigned a 10-minute slot between 5:55 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. to see the auction action with a group of other people. Be sure to bring along some ID; it’s necessary to access the deck.
When you head down to the observation deck, stay right, following the signs — the left side is reserved for press and officials. Keep your eyes peeled for “Language Co-talk Volunteers.” These friendly folk are happy to explain what’s happening in the tuna auction, in English.
Pro tip: Sign up for a tour before or during the application window and the operator will apply for you — no need to deal with forms in Japanese. This tour will also pick you up from your hotel so you don’t need to sort out a taxi to the market.
How long does the tuna auction last?
The start of the Toyosu tuna auction is announced by the ringing of a bell. Depending on how many tuna there are to sell on the particular day you visit, it could all be over within 20 minutes, or last a full hour. There are several auctioneers and different auctions might happen simultaneously. The tuna auctioneers and buyers move around in small groups from batch to batch until everything is sold. They are followed by Toyosu Market workers who promptly slap “sold” tags on the fish. Both fresh and frozen tuna might be on sale.
Even if you can’t see the tuna auction when you visit the market, you should be able to watch the just-sold tuna being hoisted away on forklifts and turret trucks. This usually wraps up around 7 a.m.
Getting to the tuna auction
Trains to Toyosu Market only start running from 5:15 a.m. — that’s if you catch the Yurikamome line from Toyosu. Coming from Shimbashi, the first train to the market doesn’t depart until 5:45 a.m. — too late for the tuna auction.
There really isn’t anywhere to hang out all night near the market, so you’ll have to take a taxi to get to the market early enough for the auction. Ask the taxi driver to drop you off at Shijōmae Station, as they aren’t allowed to drop people off in front of the fish market gates (so as not to block the busy morning workflow).
Can I see boats coming in at Toyosu?
Anyone hoping to see ships unload their fresh catch in the early morning hours at Toyosu will be sorely disappointed: 99% of the domestic catch is landed elsewhere in Japan (like Yaesu, Choshi, and Kesennuma) and brought here by trucks. When we went for a preview of the market, we were impressed by the modern truck docks with air curtains that stop dust, insects, or heat from entering the market building when unloading. But tourists don’t have access to this area.
Can I buy seafood directly?
No more buying directly as a visitor. You can only buy seafood in the form of a meal at one of the restaurants at Toyosu. Alternatively, you can head to Tsukiji’s outer market for seafood.
Shops and restaurants at Toyosu
On the fourth floor of the intermediate seafood wholesale building, you’ll find over 100 shops and eateries. Their offerings range from sake and cheese to knives sharpened before your eyes, kitchen utensils, fruit, veg, and bentō boxes.
Souvenir suggestions include the fresh wasabi roots on offer, maybe as a set with a wasabi grater, or the ceramics at Ueda. They are reasonably priced for the quality of design and material that is on offer. Check it out in the North Aisle.
Once you are done shopping, you can head back out and take a look at Toyosu’s main restaurant area, which is housed in the same building but has a separate entrance on the overpass level. Besides sushi shops, there is also a café, a tonkatsu joint, and a curry shop to choose from. Note that the restaurants in this area are the most crowded and have the longest queues, so consider the options in the other two buildings.
What else is there to see at Toyosu Fish Market?
When you are done with the main attraction, the two fish market buildings, you have two options: go up to the fifth floor roof deck or go see the fruit and veg market.
The rooftop can be accessed from elevators inside and outside the building, but these can get crowded. If possible, look for the staircase, which is a bit harder to find. The roof is pretty minimalistic in design, but it has grass and non-flowering bushes (so as not to attract any insects). There is no shade, but it offers a great view of Tokyo Bay and, on clear days in winter, of Mt Fuji.
Note that you can sit on the grass, but food and drink is not allowed on the roof. Also, there is barely any signage, so don’t get lost! There is a big path down to the lower floors, which leads you back to the windows overlooking the sales area.
Toyosu fruit and vegetable market
If you haven’t had enough yet, you can also go and check out the fruit and veg wholesale area — just follow the English signs. A word of warning though: this isn’t the most exciting place, unless you love the sight of piles and piles of Styrofoam boxes. You will be walking along a windowed gallery that looks down onto the market activity below.
The best thing about this part of Toyosu is probably the handful of restaurants tucked away one level under the entrance. Take the stairs down as you exit the building and you can choose from udon, tempura and arguably the best sushi at the market — Daiwa Sushi.
This sushi joint has no written menu, so it is best to go with their omakase (recommended) set.
The quality is excellent and they give you the option to replace any sushi you might not want to eat because you dislike it or because you have environmental concerns (think eel and other fish that are threatened). They speak a bit of English and some Chinese and are very accommodating to foreign visitors. It is worth the price tag of ¥4,000–¥4,500 for a full set including soup.
What is there to do near Toyosu Fish Market?
Word is the fish market complex will be expanded to include more tourist-oriented stuff in the future, like a hotel and hot spring. And in the near future, a shopping street called Senkyaku Banrai is due to open across the road, as a project to make the area more lively and “give back” to the community.
What happened to the old Tsukiji Market?
The “inner” part of Tsukiji Market (the wholesale market) closed for a couple of reasons: its facilities were old (it opened in 1935), and the layout inefficient. The government says this was hurting the market’s “image,” in addition to causing health and food safety concerns. Tsukiji attracted more than 40,000 visitors daily, so the latter concerns make sense. The soaring temperatures of summer highlighted the challenges, with the aging aircon units at Tsukiji at times unable to beat the heat.
But another big reason (and perhaps the main reason) for the move is that Tsukiji Market was currently sitting on prime real estate. There’s been all sorts of talk about having the site redeveloped into a sports stadium and retail shops. There’ve also been rumblings about relocating the famous fish market back to Tsukiji by 2025, with an added food theme park. The state-of-the-art Toyosu facility would then become a distribution center. Keep in mind, though, that no redevelopment plans have been 100% confirmed yet. We’ll update you when we know more.
Note that Tsukiji outer market, a collection of hundreds of shops and eateries selling everything from fresh seafood to cooking equipment, adjacent to the old inner market area, is not going anywhere. You can — and should — still visit it, ideally as part of a guided Tsukiji tour. You might also be interested in exploring a few awesome Tsukiji alternatives.
How do I get from Toyosu Fish Market to Tsukiji?
The best idea is to check out the action at the new Toyosu Market first, in the early morning hours, and then head over to the old Tsukiji Outer Market — it offers more options than Toyosu for sushi (or other food) and shopping. You could walk from Toyosu to Tsukiji on a fine day; it’s about 3km and will lead you over three bridges, keeping a fairly straight line. Budget around 30 minutes for it.
However, the most convenient way of getting between Toyosu and Tsukiji is to board the Yurikamome Line at Shijōmae Station for Toyosu (two stops) and then change to the Yurakuchō Line for Shintomichō Station (another two stops), which is just a little further from the market than Tsukiji Station, but offers a much quicker connection. The trip takes around 15 minutes and from Shintomichō it is a 750m/8-minute walk to the Outer Market.
Or you could take a cab for around ¥1,500.
Relocating from Tsukiji to Toyosu cost a lot of clams
(Clams, fish market … get it? You got it.)
The estimated cost of transplanting the wholesale market from Tsukiji to Toyosu was upwards of 600 billion yen (approx. 5.42 billion USD). This included construction, infrastructure (including a new expressway), land costs, and soil decontamination measures.
Wait, go back — what’s that about soil contamination?
The Toyosu site was formerly home to a gas production plant, and an early survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed that the soil was, unfortunately, heavily contaminated. Extensive clean-up efforts seem to have sorted it out, but there was initially concern — especially from business operators — about food safety at the relocation site, and over 80% of Tsukiji fish traders originally opposed the move.
Video guide to Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo
Pro tip: For a visual guide to the various types of sushi, check out Sushi University.
The information in this post, though we do our best to ensure it is correct, is subject to change. This post was first published in April, 2016. Last updated by the editorial team in August 2022.