Eating the best possible sushi probably sits high on the list of foods for most travelers coming to Japan. The Tsukiji fish market (=築地市場) was one of the most popular places to achieve that goal. In October 2018, the world famous Tsukiji fish market moved to an area called Toyosu (=豊洲), which is just next to Odaiba (=お台場).
We’ve visited the new, now called Toyosu fish market on the very first days of its opening. In this entry, well let you know how the fish market has changed, what you can do in the new Toyosu fish market, and recommend one of the best sushi restaurants we’ve found.
THE REVEAL OF TOYOSU FISH MARKET AFTER TSUKIJI
TOYOSU FISH MARKET OPENING HOURS
The Toyosu fish market is open on weekdays and Saturdays. It is closed every Sunday and public holiday, as well as a few Wednesdays throughout the year. Please check the official calendar here before visiting to make sure it’s open.
Unfortunately there is no calendar in English yet so please check in Japanese.
Year : 平成30年=2018, 平成31年=2019 Closed day : red spaces
In Tsukiji fish market, it was common practice to not go to the fish auction because it was crowded with people actually working in the early morning and it’s best not to disturb them. In the new Toyosu fish market, however, visitors and workers are well separated so you don’t have to worry about it. Even though you won’t disturb them, you can still see them work!
HOW’S NEW TOYOSU FISH MARKET IN TOKYO?
Because Toyosu fish market has just started, many are wondering how it is different from Tsukiji fish market, beyond the location. We’ve found Toyosu fish market to be very different.
Toyosu fish market is super TIDY and CLEAN. On the opening day, over 40,000 people came to the new Toyosu fish market location. We overheard many making the same observation “Toyosu fish market looks like a hospital”. We couldn’t stop laughing but the word ‘hospital’ explains precisely what Toyosu fish market looks like. Bingo!
The most important observation we’ve made is that you must know how to properly enjoy visiting the market. You should know what time to go, and where to go. Otherwise, your visit to Toyosu fish market will be a boring loss of time, as we’ve had the misfortune to experience on the first day.
Toyosu fish market is HUGE and most floors are only open to workers. You have to walk a lot as you go from building to building, so, again, we want to emphasize that you need to have a plan for your visit. To make your visit special, we will tell you all the useful information with the Otashift special Toyosu fish market map!
TOYOSU FISH MARKET MAP AND ACCESS
For visitors, you are able to access buildings 5, 6 and 7 in Toyosu fish market.
Between bloc 6 and bloc 7-8, there is a huge road so you need to leave from the building first and use the passenger paths.
To access to Toyosu fish market, you can use the train. You will drop at Shijo-mae(=市場前) station.
You will need to walk on the passage which connects 3 blocs. If you want to see tuna auction first, please just go straight. You’ll see a signboard “Visitor Route” so follow the way.
Worried about transportation in Tokyo? We recommend you to install Google Maps and you will know exactly how to arrive in Shijo-mae station!
MAP OF TOYOSU FISH MARKET
Visiting Toyosu fish market is pretty confusing. We Otashift provide you with Toyosu fish market’s map which enables you to easily understand where to visit, eat etc. On this map, we note stars for recommended places. Before going there, please make sure to print this map out and bring it with you.
HOW YOU SHOULD ENJOY TOYOSU FISH MARKET
Toyosu fish market is huge! Don’t lose your energy too much there. Here are tips to help you enjoy going to Toyosu fish market!
SEEING THE TUNA AUCTION
The tuna auction is one of the things you should check out! Once you see it, you really can feel that you’ve arrive to Sushi empire. In Tsukiji market, seeing tuna auction was limited but in Toyosu fish market, all people can freely see it from the window on the 2nd floor at bloc 7. However, if you want to see the tuna auctions from closer, you can participate in the tuna auction observation tour and you can view the tuna auction from the first floor.
The tuna auction generally starts at 5:30 and ends an hour later at 6:30. Once it’s overall you’ll see is the tunas which have been sold. For various reasons, Toyosu fish market workers can change the time of the auction, so make sure you arrive around 5 a.m. You may think it is too early, but believe me, we’ve been told over an over by visitors that past the auction, there is not much to see in the tunnel auction space. You can always go back to bed after visiting the Toyosu fish market, so do your best to wake up! Before the tuna auction starts, buyers inspect the tuna with flashlights to check their conditions. To get the best tuna, they check the muscles, blood spots, color, etc. That is why you can notice slices on each tuna. When the bell starts, that marks the beginning of the auction. Those who want to buy tuna come in to participate. From the 2nd floor, we can’t hear any sound from the tuna auction, but we can see how serious they are. It seems very quick, and some buyers are almost fighting each other to get the best tuna.
Longtime ago this tradition was used in order to threaten people because working in tuna ship was a dangerous and often deadly job. Nowadays we no longer say it but still working in tuna ship is very tough. I hope this story of fish markets makes your visit in Toyosu more enriched!
About 5:30am – 6:30am
Place: on 2nd floor at bloc 7
At bloc 5, you can see fruits and vestibules selling but to be honest, it’s not that interesting. Even though there is a visitor’s course, all there is to do is just walking a lot. If you still have energy, you can visit here but you can skip it if you’d like.
GOING TO BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT : YAMAZAKI
Since Toyosu fish market was opened, we have been looking forward to discovering some of the best sushi restaurants. Otashift can’t tell you which restaurants are the best without tasting. We’ve tasted Kaisendon (=海鮮丼), which is a bowl of rice topped with sashimi, at very famous restaurants from Tsukiji market, such as Oedo(=大江戸), Dontaku(=丼匠), for example, but to be honest, we couldn’t find them very special. (By the way, I’m a huge sushi lover!) Of course they are fresh and very tasty but as a Japanese who loves and eats raw fish every week, it was just ok.
When we’ve started thinking “maybe all restaurants in Toyosu fish market are at that level”, LUCKILY we found THE BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT ever!!!! This best sushi restaurant is called “Yamazaki(=やまざき)”, which is located just in front of the entrancing door of the 2nd floor at bloc 7, the same floor as tuna auctions viewing.
Honestly judging on pictures that you can see on the wall, it doesn’t seem gorgeous but normal (anyway Otashift doesn’t rely on only pictures). However the old guy who was working was stood in front of door to welcome people in silence and then two Japanese guys who definitely seem to have been working in Toyosu fish market since Tsukiji fish market, said good morning and entered the restaurant, I was sure that this restaurant could be very special!
In fact, this restaurant was one of the best sushi restaurants I’ve been to in my life. All sushi were perfections. Professional sushi chefs were cooking just in front of us so not only eating sushi but also being able to watch a Japanese sushi show. In some traditional sushi restaurants, it’s rude to take pictures but in this restaurant everyone was SUPER FRIENDLY! I have to mention but it doesn’t mean this sushi restaurant isn’t traditional. It IS the very best sushi restaurant.
In this sushi restaurant, you can eat Nigiri-zushi (=握り寿司), which is a hand-pressed sushi. You can use your hand to eat sushi and actually this is the formal way to eat Nigiri-zushi for Edo people. You even don’t have to add soy sauce because the sushi chef has already put the perfect amount on top of the sushi.
All you have to do in this restaurant is choosing a menu. I ate the 9 course sushi which is called “Sakura menu” for 3,700 yen but it was a lot. Don’t count on eating as much sushi as at a conveyor belt sushi because each single sushi is pretty big. Once you decide on the menu, you let them what you want to have.
Talking about ‘real’ sushi restaurant, the fish on the menu change based on the seasons and what’s fresh on the day. You could be eating during sushi every day. Also, if you don’t like one of the fish on the menu, you can ask to have it changed for something else. Finally, after your meal, if you’d like one more of a certain item, you can ask for that as well.
We’ve been wondering how those sushi chefs can treat fish so softly and kindly. It sounds stupid but all fishseemed so relax and shining… The way they make the best sushi looked very Zen so we could enjoy watching them work. The artpiece, the sushi comes one by one so you may wonder if it’s over or if there’s more to come. This was exactly what we thought. But no worries, once the sushi chef gives the last piece, he’s mentioned it is the last one so just relax and enjoy your precious time.
We noticed half the costumers were regulars. One of them, a foreigner who seems to be living in Japan said about to of the chefs that “This restaurant is always the best, and nothing has changed since Tsukuji fish market”. In this restaurant, you get a warm feeling, this is what the Japanese call “omotenashi”, Japanese warm hospitality.
We imagine you’re now convinced that going to this sushi restaurant in Toyosu fish market iis an obligation. First, though, you’d probably like to know the price. The average cost here is around ¥3000 to ¥4000 (aboud US $31). We agree that is a bit expensive, but trust us, it is worth it forone of the best sushi. While looking into what restaurant to go to, one of the working old men told us the price and quality of the sushi at Yamazaki were proportional
And more thing, you’d better go to this restaurant early in the morning. According to the sushi chef, a lot of people come after 10 a.m. Of course, if you wait, you can still eat but because we want you to take your time and not hurry, we strongly recommend you to go there just after the tuna auction. Having the best sushi with best Japanese sake will blow your mind
Because Yamazaki sushi restaurant was too good, we are not willing to recommend others restaurants in Toyosu fish market. However, it doesn’t mean others are not good. We’re certainly sure that all restaurants provide delicious foods. In Toyosu fish market, some restaurants are not for Sushi but also Ramen, Katsu-don, curry and rice, etc. They have been well known as being great restaurants since Tsukiji fish market. In fact most of restaurants in Toyosu fish market have moved from Tsukiji fish market.
One thing we have to mention here is most of all restaurants in Toyosu fish market are pretty expensive. The average price is around 2,000 to 3,000 yen and if you want to eat Nigiri-zushi which is hand-pressed sushi, most cost above 3,000 yen. So… It’s your choice! Anyway if you eat something in Toyosu fish market, all foods are delicious.
TASTING JAPANESE TRADITIONAL RICE CAKE
On the same floor of Yamazaki (2nd floor at bloc 7) and just before the entrance gate of the tuna auction, there is a specialized rice cake store called Mosuke Dango(=茂助だんご). In this store, not only rieh cake ‘dango’ but also you can taste many traditional Japanese sweets. There are some tables so if you want to have a rest, you can take a seat.
We’ve bought standard dango. Just before leaving the store, an old lady who was sitting in the entrance chair, suddenly started talking to us and said “Our dango has been made for two generations and what you’ve bought is the most popular cake here!” with a big smile. She was super cute and we felt like this old lady has been protecting and checking if everything is ok in this new fish market.
So how was the taste? It was a perfection! This dango is pretty crunchy like the old style ones. In this box of dango, some are sweet and some are salty. After eating sushi, have a Japanese desert here! Very recommended!
VIEWING THE PANORAMA OF THE RINKAI AREA AND TOKYO TOWER
Before going to the Toyosu fish market, we weren’t expecting that we would see this beautiful view of the Rinkai area and Tokyo tower from the roof top, called “Green roof plaza”. As we mentioned before, walking around Toyosu fish market can be pretty tiring so once you need a rest, just go to the roof top!
We’ve been to the roof top just after 5 o’clock to see if we could see sunrise but unfortunately we couldn’t see anything special. So please go to the roof top whenever you want.
To get to the roof top, you need to use an elevator. On the Otashift Toyosu fish market map that we’ve attached above, you can easily find this elevator!
LOOKING AROUND SMALL SHOPS : JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES!
On the 4th floor of bloc 6, you can enjoy looking around small shops where you can find Japanese foods, goods, T-shirts, etc. This place is called Uogashi-Yokocho(=魚がし横丁). Many Japanese enjoy walking by eating Japanese style egg omelette, called Tamagoyaki(=卵焼き). Normally we eat it at restaurants, not at markets so this is very rare to see those specialized omelets markets. It costs 130 yen as the cheapest price so no reason not to have some.
Our biggest interest in Toyosu fish market was actually the knife shop. You can find so many types of knifes, from small to big and we saw many foreigners bought one of them as souvenirs. In fact, Japanese knives are well known as some of best knives all over the world.
In addition, there are many types of Japanese foods shops where you can get typical Japanese ingredients. To be honest, I’m not a good cook so even though I’m Japanese, I cannot tell how to use all of those ingredients. If you are curious about Japanese foods or sake for example, check them out!
Visiting those small shops at Uogashi-Yokocho is pretty interesting but the opening hours depend on the individual shops. It doesn’t mean all shops are opened from 5am. So if you want to visit them, you’d better to go after 10 o’clock.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TOKYO TSUKIJI FISH MARKET?
Although the Tsukiji fish market was loved by so many people and it was known as the biggest fish market in the world, why was it moved to Toyosu?
HISTORYHISTORY OF TSUKIJI FISH MARKET IN JAPAN
Tsukiji market moved to Toyosu on the 9th of October 2018 and the newToyosu fish market started on the 11th of October. It means the 83 year old history of Tsukiji fish market has come to an end. Outer markets of Tsukiji were very popular for seafood restaurants, especially for some of the best sushi.
The reason why it has been moved is because Tsukiji market became too old to continue efficiently.
1. THE BEGINNING OF FISH MARKET IN TOKYO
The Tsukiji fish market started during the Edo period, when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa regime. Edo was placed within the current Tokyo. At the end of the Edo period, the samurai era came to an ended. Around year 1644, after giving a part of their catch to the government, people would sell them under the Nihonbashi bridge. This bridge was a symbol of Edo and was part of the main road that linked Edo to Tohoku, to the north of Tokyo. During the Meiji period, following the Edo period, the Tokyo stock exchange settled in Nihonbashi. On the other hand, the fish market remained as before.
2. TEMPORARY FISH MARKETS WERE MADE AFTER THE GREAT KANTO EARTHQUAKE
On the 1st September 1923, a big earthquake of magnitude 7.9 hit Japan, it is called the great Kanto Earthquake.This huge earthquake remains one of the most frightening historical events in Japan, even in the current generation. This earthquake led to multiple deaths, as well as the destruction of the fish market in Nihonbashi. Sixteen days after the earthquake, a temporary fish market was opened at the Shibaura reclamation site, but it was too small to accept more than 10,000 people who came each day. This led the Tokyo government to once again move the temporary fish market on the 2nd of November 1923, this time to Tsukiji, at the site of the imperial Japanese Navy Technical Institute.
3. TSUKIJI FISH MARKET HAD BEEN THOUGH THE WAR
When Tsukiji fish market was finally made in 1935, the Japanese population increased drastically due to the high economic growth. Because the main transportation method changed to train, Tsukiji fish market turned to into a huge market. In 1940 during the war, the Japanese government decided to make a unified price for perishable foods, including fish. Therefore they no longer needed auctions and Tsukiji fish market became a pantry.
From 1945 after the Second World War to 1955, a quarter of Tsukiji fish market was confiscated by the Allied Powers and they used this place as a parking for the military and for laundry. In 1950, the rule for unified prices was eliminated and led to the restart of auctions in Tsukiji fish market. Until 1952, the area for fishing was limited by the Allied Powers but then once Japan regained its sovereignty, the rule was abolished and large numbers of tuna were caught and brought back to Tsukiji fish market.
4. TSUKIJI FISH MARKET MOVED TO TOYOSU
For many years, it was a huge concern to move the Tsukiji fish market to somewhere because of its inadequacy in facing earthquake, and hygiene problems. The Tokyo metropolitan government tried to build a new building in Tsukihi, but as they estimated the budget, it was mission impossible. The cost was too high. Furthermore, the Tsukiji fish market wasn’t big enough to sustain the activities (even though it was the largest fish market in the world). It was time to move.
Since the old fish market Tsukiji had moved to Toyosu, people have started catching mice. Wait… mice?Because Tsukiji market was super old and it was pretty dirty, Tsukiji fish market became the world of mouses.
Toyosu fish market was supposed to be made two years ago but it was put off because of so many issues, such as soil problems. So for locals, the beginning of Toyosu fish market comes with a lot of hope as well as many worries.
THERE ARE STILL OUTER FISH MARKETS IN TSUKIJI!
Even though the Tsukiji fish market has been completely closed, don’t be too disappointed! Luckily there are still some restaurants outside the Tsukiji fish market. In fact some Japanese still prefer going to those restaurants in Tsukiji rather than in Toyosu.
THE BEST WAY TO VISIT TOYOSU FISH MARKET
As we’ve explained above, there are some ways to effectively visit the Toyosu fish market. So maybe you’re wonder “So what’s the best way to visit Toyosu fish market?” Our answer is…
- Visiting the tuna auction at 5am
- Going to the best sushi restaurant (Yamazaki)
- Going to see the panorama view of the Rinkai area and Tokyo tower
Hope you guys enjoy visiting Toyosu fish market!