Is visiting the famous tuna auction in Tokyo on your bucket list? It’s definitely a must-do. How to book your spot…or not, and everything else you want to know about the Toyosu Fish Market.
Visiting the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market used to be on everyone’s top to do list for Tokyo, in fact in Japan. Unfortunately the market no longer holds tuna auctions. You can still visit the old ramshackle market and shop in the area. It’s still fascinating and well worth a visit. However, if you’re interested in the tuna auctions then you’ll need to make your reservation to attend the auction at the Toyosu Fish Market, which we just recently visited a few weeks ago. Here’s what we found.
Watching the tuna auction is a fascinating glimpse into the workings of a real fish auction as the night’s catch are delivered early in the morning to the market, auctioned off to middlemen, then sold in the outer market to either fish shops or restaurants for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The fresh fish sometimes only makes its way across the square to become someone’s best breakfast…or lunch or dinner!
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Is Toyosu the Most Famous Fish Market in the World?
For decades Tsukiji market was world-famous, but times do change. The old market was falling down and way too small to really be effective, so the city of Tokyo built a bigger, some would say much better, version of the old market. After years of construction, Toyosu Fish Market was opened in 2018.
Even though most of the market operations at Tsukiji moved to Toyosu, Tsukiji still has a great deal of fame. That being said, Toyosu is quickly taking that popularity away. Of course, the famous tuna auctions are what made Tsukiji famous, so with those being held at Toyosu, that fame has shifted to the new market as well.
What is the Tuna Auction?
Tuna auctions, selling off tunas ranging upwards of 400 pounds, have seen bids for over $600,000 for a single fish. Mind boggling!
Before the auction begins, huge tuna are laid out on the green floor so the buyers can make their choices. Then the tuna auction begins when the bell is rung. It goes fast, and when the fish is sold, the buyer receives a ticket to go pay and then pick up his fish. It’s all very organized and fascinating to watch.
How to Visit the Toyosu Fish Market
Your first step to visiting the Toyosu Fish Market is to visit their website and apply online. You first pick your choice of date and time, and you can pick up to three. Then you put in how many people in your party, fill out the personal info, submit and cross your fingers you will get chosen for one. There are only 27 people allowed into the observation room at one time, so it’s run like a lottery. You will only be notified if you win, so pay attention to your emails.
If you don’t win, don’t despair. There is a second floor observation corridor, overlooking the auction room and you can go there and watch for free. There is no form, no cost, and it’s very simple. We didn’t get picked for the observation room, and I was actually okay with that after seeing the 2nd floor corridor. You are looking down from higher above, but you still get the gist of what’s going on.
Pro Note: No matter what you will not see the auction if you arrive too late, so if that is your goal, you need to set the alarm clock and be ready to call a taxi. The best part of the auction will happen between 6:00 and 6:30.
What Can You Do
There are many things to do at Toyosu Fish Market.
Some things to do there include:
- Watch the world-famous tuna auction
- Visit the mini-museum that tells the history of Tsukiji and Toyosu
- Take a gander at a model of the largest bluefin tuna to ever be sold at the market
- Eat the freshest sushi you’ll ever find
- Buy a souvenir or some produce – there’s more to the fish market than just fish
- Color a picture in the free coloring book
- Stamp your collection book with three different stamps
- Take a fresh breath on the Rooftop Garden
The Best Part – Eating at Toyosu Fish Market
After you’ve watched the auction, you are going to be hungry. Most of the sushi restaurants open very early, and no matter what time it is there always seems to be a line. Lines are good, though, it means the food is great!
We went a little later, deciding to have lunch. We waited in line for about 40 minutes. We ate at one of the highest ranking restaurants, Isosushi, and they were well-organized. Right before you enter, you make your order. There are only about 10 choices, so it’s pretty easy.
Once seated, you receive your green tea, miso soup, and nice warm towel, which is really welcome after standing on your feet for so long. It doesn’t seem so rushed once you are inside. They want you to balance the enjoyment of the food with the wait time of the long line outside. Still, this is not a place to sit and chat for hours after your meal is finished.
I thought the prices were a bit steep. See our menu pic below, and it cost for Jim and me about 80 dollars, but let me tell you, it was so worth it!
Some of the Best Sushi Restaurants in Toyosu
When operations moved from Tsukiji to Toyosu many of the most popular restaurants moved as well. I fondly remember eating an early morning sushi breakfast in a couple of those Tsukiji restaurants, so seeing them at Toyosu really made my day. Here’s a list of some of the most popular, and arguably the best, sushi restaurants in Toyosu Fish Market.
- Daiwai Sushi is one of those relocated restaurants that never fails to please with the freshest fish, but also the longest lines. Located in Block 5, Fruit and Vegetables Building, first floor.
- Sushidai moved from Tsukiji into Toyosu without skipping a beat. Just as popular and just as good, expect long lines and the freshest, best sushi. Located in Block 6, Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market Building, third floor.
- Isozushi is a solid pick for tuna lovers and the restaurant has tables as well as counter seating. Located in Block 6, Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market Building, third floor.
- Iwasa Sushi is another restaurant that made the migration from Tsukiji. Here the sushi is super fresh and delicious, but with much shorter waiting times. Located in Block 6, Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market Building, third floor.
Power Tip: When it comes to eating out in Japan, be adventurous! Check out our incredible food of Japan article for more tips and suggestions!
Practical Information for Visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market and Tuna Auction
Days to Visit Toyosu
Open Mondays through Saturdays with the exception of Wednesdays and national holidays. Check the calendar before you make the commitment to getting up early.
Opening Hours for the Toyosu Fish Market
The Toyosu Market is open daily from 5:00 – 3:00, but there are closed days that are posted on signs all around the complex. Also, be aware, this is a morning market, so while restaurants and shops will be open during these hours, not much is happening in the market areas.
Address: Toyosu 6-8-1, Koto City
Tokyo Hotels Near Toyosu Fish Market
There are two good hotels near Toyosu Fish Market, Hotel JAL City Tokyo Toyosu and La Vista Tokyo Bay. Both of them meet our criteria for choosing a hotel in Tokyo. First is good value for money, second is being close to a metro station, and third is good reviews that mention comfort. Either of these would be perfect for a one night stay allowing easy access walking to the tuna auctions in the early morning.
Other Attractions Near Toyosu Fish Market
There are plenty of things to do around the Toyosu fish market. One of the most popular is the teamLab Planets Tokyo multimedia, ultra-interactive art museum. Additionally, Odaiba island, Tokyo Bay’s main attraction center, is only a few stops away by metro. Here you can find Gundam Base, Tokyo Joypolis Amusement Park, sightseeing cruises, museums, and seaside parks.
More Reading: Take a look at our Top Tokyo Attractions article for more tips and advice on visiting this energizing city!
How would you like to eat sushi for breakfast at the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo? Even if you’re not a sushi fan, the Toyosu Market really lets you see the importance of fish, and in fact the whole fishing industry in Japan. It is well worth a trip out to see and experience the fish market!
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.