Looking for the best fish markets in Japan? Tokyo is where you'll find some of the biggest and most popular options. For sushi lovers, here’s a quick guide to the three best Tokyo fish market locations to satisfy your seafood cravings.
First, we’ll introduce you to Tsukiji as the most famous Tokyo fish market, Toyosu as the city’s newest and largest, and Adachi—one of the lesser-known fish markets in Tokyo that’s more of a low-key, local affair.
Tokyo Fish Markets: What's All the Fuss About?
Visiting a Tokyo fish market is part of the experience of the city, especially for anyone who is serious about seafood (and also an early riser). Why bother getting up at the crack of dawn? With the sea so deeply rooted in the country's history and cuisine, a visit to a Japanese fish market will add another dimension to your trip.
For an easy way to experience a Tokyo fish market, book a spot on a Tsukiji Fish Market and Sushi-Making Tour (they're popular).
It also makes for a nice contrast to the neon hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s shopping and entertainment districts. And with specialty vendors and stalls lining the paths of any and all Tokyo fish markets, no matter which one you ultimately choose to explore, it’s guaranteed to be a full and rewarding time.
Plus, these Japanese seafood markets offer a fast-paced look at how locals, large-scale distributors, and skilled chefs shop for necessary supplies. It’s an opportunity to sample some of the best seafood and freshest produce, while learning about handcrafted utensils and tools at the same time. You’ll find a stop at a fish market in Tokyo a go-to activity in any guidebook, with good reason.
1. Tsukiji Fish Market (Tokyo's Most Famous Fish Market)
Despite major changes, Tsukiji remains the most famous fish market in Tokyo, and still has a reputation for being a top tourist attraction in the city. Tsukiji Fish Market has been running since the 16th century (although only from its current site since 1935), and historically it was the largest fish market in the world—quite a claim to fame!
However, in the last few years, Tsukiji Fish Market has been overshadowed by the opening of Tokyo’s bigger and more modern fish market site, Toyosu. Originally divided by its inner and outer sections, the 2018 closure of Tsukiji’s “inner market” impacted the market's dynamic. This inner area was where wholesale purchases and the famous morning tuna auctions used to occur, but these now take place at Toyosu Fish Market.
Wait, Does Tsukiji Fish Market Still Exist?
Yes, Tsukiji is still operating! The outer district of Tsukiji Fish Market is still in business and brimming with old-school charm. Tsukiji's Outer Market sits next to the former site of the wholesale market, and continues to buzz with wholesale vendors, retail stores, and restaurants.
Many of the Tsukiji restaurants open early in the morning, kick-starting around 5:00 am. Seafood enthusiasts flock to taste high-quality Japanese seafood dishes including sashimi, sushi, seafood bowls (kaisendon), and more for breakfast or lunch. Generally, these days the produce is delivered directly from Toyosu, so it's just as fresh and delicious as ever.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo?
There is no entry fee at Tsukiji Outer Market, and many shops offer free tastings of their specialty condiments and ingredients. You’ll find both fresh and processed fish and seafood products, condiments and snacks, as well as kitchen tools such as knives and other utensils.
You can explore this Tokyo fish market from the early morning until early afternoon. Soak up the atmosphere as you wander through the narrow lanes filled with busy shoppers hunting for bargains, and seize the chance to taste the freshest seafood in town!
Why Did Tsukiji Fish Market Move?
Following a decision by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the inner wholesale market at Tsukiji was closed on October 6, 2018 due to its facilities being outdated and overcapacity. Tsukiji was originally built to accommodate Tokyo’s rail-based transport system, and the close-quarter market facilities weren’t able to adapt as trucks started to replace trains as the main cargo haulers.
The wholesale section of Tsukiji moved to its new site, reopening as “Toyosu Fish Market” about two miles away (still in Tokyo). Toyosu is almost twice the size of Tsukiji Fish Market.
2. Toyosu Fish Market
The mogul of fish markets in Tokyo, Toyosu Wholesale Market is an indoor market spanning over 40 hectares, with different areas divided up for its wholesale fish and tuna auction, restaurants, retailers and wholesalers. Since opening in late 2018, it has become the center for fish trade in Tokyo and Japan, with the country’s widest range of seafood.
It’s also the new home of Tokyo’s fast-paced tuna auctions, where bidders compete to take home the biggest and best catches of the day. Toyosu is the most important Japanese fish market on the world stage, too.
Recommended: Attend a tuna-slicing show, complete with all-you-can-eat tuna, to learn more about this local delicacy (with a private chef, not at Toyosu).
It’s serious business at Toyosu Fish Market, both in flavor and sales. We’re talking incredibly fresh Japanese cuisine at its core, including the usual suspects of sushi, sashimi, seafood bowls, grilled fish, and more. Spread across several different levels, you can get lost in this giant fish market for hours.
If you are planning on viewing Toyosu’s tuna auction, you'll need to be organized as it runs from approximately 5:45 am to 6:25 am. You can watch (for free) from the gallery floor that's located one floor above the auction room, without booking ahead. Arrive early to save a good spot, even around 5:00 am!
For a more intimate viewing (also for free), you can try and win one of 100 places on a special observation deck, close to the action. You have to apply online, about a month in advance, on the Toyosu Tuna Auction Lottery website.
3. Adachi Fish Market (The "Off-the-Beaten-Path" Option)
Adachi Fish Market is considered to be a little more off the beaten path than Tsukiji and Toyosu. However, it’s actually the second-largest seafood market in Tokyo, with an excellent reputation for its high-quality wholesale fish and local seafood restaurants.
Adachi Market is the only market in Tokyo that deals in only seafood, fish and marine produce, making it a specialty Tokyo fish market, where restaurant employees and locals alike can be found shopping and trading with fishermen.
It’s a little further afield than Tsukiji and Toyosu, which are located in the center of Tokyo, but this means that you’ll find things are a bit cheaper! Adachi Fish Market is approximately 20 minutes north of Ueno Station, sitting in between the Arakawa River and Sumida River.
Filled with high-quality produce from clams and crabs to scallops and shrimps, Adachi Fish Market is more of a place where locals go as an alternative to Tsukiji.
The easiest way to explore Adachi Fish Market? Join a tour with a local guide.
How to Visit a Tokyo Fish Market
For the best experience at a Tokyo fish market, you should prepare to rise early. Many fish markets kick off at 5:00 AM, so you'll need to get the earliest public transport or a taxi to the venue. Tokyo’s public transport is fairly extensive, but depending on where you are staying, be mindful of the commute time.
You can also join a Tokyo fish market tour, to take the stress out of your visit.
We recommend allowing 1.5 hours to 2 hours to explore any of these top three Tokyo fish markets, including some time for shopping and enjoying a meal of freshly-caught and prepared seafood delicacies. Be aware that many stalls at Japanese fish markets close around lunchtime, and 1:00 pm or 2:00pm at the latest.
Bonus: Visit Japan's "Tuna Town", Just Outside of Tokyo
In the port town of Misaki, Kanagawa Prefecture—near Tokyo—you can experience a lesser-visited seafood market, famed for its tuna. Explore Japan's "Tuna Town".