If you have any interest in Japanese cuisine, especially seafood, you will probably come across two names. Tsukiji or Toyosu. The city’s new seafood wholesaler is now located in Toyosu. Still, the current Tsukiji outer market is well-recognized by many. It remains one of Tokyo’s most attractive places to visit!
The Origin of Japan’s Fish Market (1657)
A brief history of Tsukiji Fish Market: The land on which the Tsukiji fish market sits was created in the Edo period by the Tokugawa shogunate after the Great fire of Meireki in 1657. The land was named Tsukiji (築地), meaning “constructed land” or “reclaimed land”, since it was done as a part of the land reclamation at Tokyo Bay. The fish market was only created here in the 20th century, and it was the first fish market in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo.
The evolution of Tsukiji Fish Market (1923 – 1987)
Unfortunately, the Nihonbashi area was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The Tokyo government then relocated the fish market to Tsukiji. Twelve years later, the Tsukiji market became the second central wholesale market, and it was the go-to place for sushi restaurateurs and fishmongers to buy their stock.
The Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937 and Tsukiji market became a distribution center for perishable food. As a result, the wholesale broker system was abolished in 1941. However, the government restored the wholesale broker system in 1945 after Japan’s surrender. Many wholesalers were eager to join or rejoin the market in 1961.
Until 1987, Japan’s high-growth declined as the economic bubble collapsed. The total daily volume of fish passing through the market declined year after year. Only some seafood products, like tuna, are auctioned at the market to this day!
Relocation to Toyosu Market (2018 – current)
The relocation plan had been planned a long time ago, so the people of the area saw this coming. The wholesale market operations closed on October 6th, 2018. But fear not, it is not disbanded. The market was relocated to Toyosu, now known as Toyosu Market, the largest fish market in the world. It is famous for its tuna auction and is completely free of charge to enter. While it may be a bit of a change from the market we all came to love, it is only located about 3km southeast of Tsukiji. The premises also expanded by about 1.7 times at the new location. The bigger the better!
The Tsukiji Market today (2021)
The current Tsukiji market, also known as Tsukiji Outer Market, is made up of 450 shops in the area and is accessible to the general public. There are plenty of great sushi restaurants around, and there are also shops selling all-you-need for your cooking! Today, the outer market still draws plenty of customers.
It doesn’t matter where you go to eat in Tsukiji, everything is going to be super fresh and yummy! So the answer to where to eat is ANYWHERE in this market! If you’re visiting Tokyo, this is one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood, since all the fish served in the Tsukiji outer market are delivered from the Toyosu market.
The outer market is a great place to explore on your own since it’s a free entry attraction. But you might want to make it more interesting or informative! You could do so by visiting the Tsukiji market with a local tour guide. Join the Classic Tsukiji Insider’s Tour of Local Market Town with Breakfast tour by Arigato Japan to explore all the hidden gems in this historic neighborhood market in Tsukiji! What’s so special about our tour? We have a tasting session where we try new and unique food every time we tour!
If you’re not convinced yet, check out our blog post on 15 reasons why you still need to go to Tsukiji even though the inner market moved (insert link) to find out whether it is still worth visiting the Tsukiji market. Will our blog post change your mind? We bet it will. Let us know!