Tsukiji Market Tuna Fish Auction


A visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction features in almost every Tokyo guidebook and is a must-do in the city. Given that I now live in Tokyo, I figured it would be worthwhile to experience the auction at least once. A regular visit to the Tsukiji fish market would be to arrive around 9 am or 10 am and browse the many stalls. However, with only 120 visitors granted access to the famous tuna auction on any given day, securing a spot to watch the auction required a very early wake-up call (some people arrive as early as 1 am) and a little planning! Read on for some tips~

Tsukiji Market

(築地市場, Tsukiji Shijō) is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits,
and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of food and flowers in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.

築地市場マグロの卸売市場の見学は、すべての東京のガイドブックに記載されており、都市での貴重な経験らしいです。 私が東京に住んでいる以上は、マグロの競りを1回ぐらい見学に行きたいと思っていました。 しかし、120人限定の訪問者のアクセスを許可されただけですので、オークションを見るための場所を確保することは、非常に早く起床して、事前に少し準備することが必要です。今回のブログにて、卸売市場に行くためのヒントをご紹介したいと思います。


Arriving to the Tsukiji Fish Inner Market at 3am. The sky is pitch dark!


Tip #1:To watch the famous Tuna Auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market, you should get there at around 3:00am, or even earlier, and collect your vest at the Fish Information Center (Entrance for Tuna Auction, 「おさかな普及センター」).

However, you’ll need to arrive earlier to ensure you reserve your spot, and then wait about 2 or more hours for the tour, especially during crowded seasons… When we arrived at 3am, more than 80-100 people had already arrived before us! We could only make it to the second tour as all the spots for the first tour had already been taken.


見学者数が定数に達し次第受付を終了しますので、席を確保するために早く到着する必要がありますし、ツアーのために約2時間以上、しばらく待たなければなりません。 私たちが午前3時に到着したとき、すでに80〜100人以上が私たちの前に到着していました!2回目のツアーにしか入ることができませんでした。

At the Fish Information Center after collecting my vest!


Map of the Tsukiji Fish Market. 築地市場の地図。

Tip #2: The market’s opening hours are 3:30am to 6:00am and there are two sets of 60 people who are allowed to watch the action. The first tour is allowed to attend the auction between 5:25am and 5:45am (fresh fish auction), and the second tour is allowed a view between 5:50am and 6:10am (frozen fish auction).

ヒント#2: 市場の営業時間は午前3時30分から午前6時までで、60人のグループが2組あり、マグロの競りを見ることができます。先着順に前半と後半に分かれ、見学者はそれぞれ60名ずつ、2組に分かれての見学となります:前半は午前5時25分から5時50分(新鮮な魚)、後半は午前5時50分から6時15分(冷凍魚)。

Tuna that has been sold. They are quite big!!


Tip #3: While waiting at the Fish Information Center, one of the tuna buyers will give a presentation of his work and experience, and provides visitors ample Q&A time. Some notes from the lecture:

  • Apparently, the fresh fish are mostly from the waters surrounding Japan, and therefore the most desirable.
  • Most fish sell for an average of about 1000 yen/1 kg.
  • Buyers are able to evaluate the fish just from observing a portion of the tail. However, even professional buyers often make the mistake of choosing a sub-grade fish 1 out of 10 times. 

ヒント#3: 「おさかな普及センター」で待っている間、マグロのバイヤーの人は、彼の仕事と経験のプレゼンテーションを行い、訪問者に十分なQ&A時間を提供します。 講義のメモ:

  • どうやら、新鮮な魚はほとんどが日本を取り巻く水域から捕るので、最も人気があります。
  • ほとんどの魚は平均約1000円/ 1kgで販売されています。安いですね!
  • 買い手は、尾の一部を観察するだけで魚が新鮮かどうかすぐに解ることができます。しかし、プロのバイヤーでさえ、10回中1回のサブグレードの魚を選ぶという間違いをしばしばすることがあるそうです。

When it is finally time for the tour, you get to enter the auction grounds! 


At the auction grounds with my brother, Brendan.


Tip #There are a lot of trucks and various vehicles moving about at high speeds so be aware of your surroundings so as to not to get into an accident! People *will* yell at you if you get in the way of them doing their work (usual Japanese polite mannerisms do not seem to apply here).


Do not get in the way of people carting fish around!


Auctioneers have a very unique way of selling, almost like they are singing a song! Watch a video below~

競売人は非常にユニークな売り方で販売します。彼らは歌を歌っているようにお魚を販売しています! 下記の動画をご覧ください~

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About Rachel

Rachel Leng is COO and Co-Founder of SeiRogai, Inc., a Tokyo-based business consultancy & media production company. Previously, she was Leader of Business Development on the Investment Management team at a Japanese private equity fund, as well as Policy Analyst at a top think tank in Seoul, South Korea.

As an East Asia specialist and former Miss Singapore titleholder, Rachel is passionate about the potential of media to educate and raise awareness about history, culture, art, business, and societal issues to enhance mutual understanding.

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