Alone in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market

A visit to Tokyo is, to me, incomplete without a stop at The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, better known as Tsukiji Market. Early mornings in the market are packed with people (employees, shoppers and tourists alike) and the energy and action is hard to match. Or you could be like me and accidentally end up in the market on a day it is closed. Whoopsie.

My only morning in Tokyo on my most recent visit was a Wednesday and the market is closed on Wednesdays in the summer. It was not at all what I had planned for. The stalls were all empty. The doors to the shops just outside the market were all closed. And it was awesome.

The emptiness was eerie in many ways. The stalls were, for the most part, ready to go except for their daily supply of fish. But other supplies were out and prepped for the employees. It had an apocalyptic feel in some ways, though it really wasn’t a bad thing.

Plus, I got to see some awesome art on the doors of a couple of the shops.

Don’t get me wrong – I would have rather that the market was open during my time there. But the closed version was pretty cool, too. Definitely an experience that most people don’t get to have.

My biggest complaint is that the breakfast sushi is much better on market days, though at least I wasn’t waiting in line to get mine.

Certainly not what I planned for, but also not the worst market visit I’ve ever had. Such is the fun which comes when traveling without too much planning.

More photos from the visit on Facebook or Google+.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Of course it is touristy. It isn’t like I’m going to buy fish; I like to see the action of the market. I wouldn’t expect that a visitor to NYC would go to my local grocery store rather than exploring some of the markets we have here.

  2. I had the best time visiting there last December…it was really cool but I am also looking forward to seeing the new facility when it opens. I am sure it will lose the charming madness of its current location, but it will certainly be more pedestrian-friendly.

  3. The breakfast sushi may not be as good on Wednesday’s, but it’s still gotta be better than a whole lot of other sushi I’ve had elsewhere in the world!

    It’s because of one of your earlier posts about Tsukiji that I went on my trap last year. So glad I did.

  4. Hey Seth, better not go to any fun, “touristy” places…you might enjoy yourself, but by implication you won’t be cool. Gotta love that kind of snobbish comment…

  5. Re: Mike’s comment: silliest response ever. The same could be said of the NY Stock Exchange or the US Capitol or … oh, never mind. Actually, Seth, I remember that tour of your grocery store as one if the highlights of my NYC trip; so glad I passed up Broadway and the Met for it!

  6. Assuming you’re talking about Chelsea Market, dubaych, yes, it is neat inside. It is also quickly becoming terribly touristy and the retail shopping experience as a local is suffering. If you’re talking about the Western Beef grocery across the street where I do much of my shopping then I would agree that it is an interesting cultural experience but would be surprised to hear it is a highlight of anything.

  7. I love this post with the photos of the closed shop doors. Fantastic!

    On a related matter, is there a particular hotel chain that is the best for netting free nights in Japan?


    1. I don’t play much with the hotel programs; the cost:benefit ratio doesn’t work for my travel patterns. There aren’t a ton of western-branded properties in Japan so unless you’re only in the biggest cities you’re going to have trouble with that approach anyways.

  8. Just got back from Japan, even wandering in the Tokyo subways is like being in a mall here.

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