Tsukiji Market is a must-visit destination for every discerning foodie. Home to the world’s freshest sashimi, their high quality seafood will be the best you ever had. The fish market is equally famous for their legendary tuna auctions and you can watch them for free.
What most travellers did not know is that watching this tuna auction actually requires a lot of preparation and planning – even so, admission is still not guaranteed. The legendary Tsukiji Market is set to move in late 2016 to make way for the Olympics and there is definitely no better time than now to visit it.
Here are 5 things you should know before slotting Tsukiji Market’s Tuna Auction into your Tokyo itinerary.
#1 IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE
First and foremost, Tsukiji Market’s Tuna Auction is honestly not for everyone. While it was one of the highlights of our vacation, we actually went through great lengths to make it happen. The auction lasts for only approximately 30 minutes but you would have to queue hours in advance just to watch this local Japanese activity.
Furthermore, a place is not guaranteed as it is based on a first come first served basis. You cannot pay to secure a seat nor can you book a slot in advance. Each auction admits a total of 60 guests and there are only two auctions on an operating day.
#2 VISITORS HAVE TO SACRIFICE SLEEP
There is actually no ‘ideal’ timing to arrive at the market despite the various recommended timings you will come across from various travel publications. We arrived at an unearthly 3.30am and were already slotted into the second batch of auction. The available slots filled up quickly after within the next half an hour – the tuna auction is clearly extremely popular.
The timing largely depends on your luck too, as there may be significantly less or more visitors on a particular day. Giving up on your sleep is almost mandatory if you want to watch the auction.
#3 STAYING NEARBY IS A MUST
As mention above, waking up in the wee hours is necessary to catch the auction. Anyone that attempts to register after the 120th visitor would be rejected and asked to leave. You have to stay within walking distance to Tsukiji Market in such an unfortunate event, as public transportations are not available during those hours.
#4 IT IS NOT OPEN EVERY DAY
The tuna auction does not open to the public daily and are usually closed on Wednesdays, Sundays and on public holidays. Do check their calendar way in advance before arranging for accommodation to avoid disappointment.
Important note: Do bear in mind that the public is currently prohibited to watch the tuna auctions till 17 Jan 2016. This is to facilitate smooth business transactions during peak periods.
#5 THERE ARE RULES TO ABIDE
Flash photography is strictly prohibited throughout the auction, as it will affect the buyers’ judgment of the premium tunas. Visitors also have to wear appropriate shoes; sandals and slippers are not allowed. Follow the guide’s instructions at all times and do not disrupt the auctioning procedures. Inability to adhere to their requirements will result in you being kicked out.
For more recommendations, read our guide on 25 reasons to love Tokyo.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.