Visiting the Tuna Auction in Action

By on January 24, 2018

The best part of living in Tokyo is access to high quality food.  When it comes to finding where ‘maguro‘  or fatty bluefin tunas are, there is no place in the world bigger than the Tsukiji Fish Market.

It is no secret that the Japanese people love maguro to the moon and back. Everyday, wholesalers are prepared to bid for the freshest tuna to bring it to the world market. To feed the world’s population, Tsukiji auctions more than 1,628 tons of marine food worth 1.6 billion yen every day. However, the market volume  in 2016 has reportedly decreased by 28% compared to 2006.  Tsukiji attracts more than 42,000 people every day. 

We have been in Japan for 2 years now and will be leaving in summer this year.  Despite my husband knowing how I hate crowds, he reminded me and our tweens, not once but thrice, that we should go to Tsukiji Auction for some cultural immersion and gourmet experience.   On the third request, the kids and I finally caved in and we’re glad we did.

It is free to participate or observe in the 50-minute auction that starts at around 5:25 in the morning.  But just 120 visitors (first-come-first-served) are admitted per auction day. The guided tours are divided into two groups of 60 in the order of arrival. The first tour starts at 5:25 until 5:50 am. The second tour goes from 5:50 – 6:15 am. The one thing first-time visitors should know is that taking flash photos are not allowed until after leaving the fish tank center.

Last week, we slept early and courageously woke up at 2 am to drive to the market where queueing starts no later than 3 – 4 in the morning right at the southeast entrance of the market which is also known as the Kachidoki gate . When the doors finally opened, we were amazed at the visually appealing and immaculately clean bluefins lined up for skilled bidders to inspect and bid. Observing how 60 to 80 kilo premium bluefins are auctioned and tuna ‘connaisseurs‘ bid is a worthwhile experience and should be in any foreigner’s list of interesting things to do in Tokyo.

Tuna heads are also sold at Tsukiji.

The edutour at Tsukiji made us all crave for fresh sushi. A quick internet search pointed us  to many restaurants in the area where most sushi plates start at ¥6,000.  We went for a cheaper and equally delicious option at Sushi Dokoro Yamazaki    The price of  Sushi plates range between ¥2,700 – ¥3,900.

No strollers, baggages, flash photography, infants, pets allowed inside the auction hall. Wear non-slip walking shoes (no high heels).


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