Tribune file photo
December 16, 2005
Tsukiji is one of the world's largest fish markets and one of Tokyo's bigger tourist attractions -- only it's not really intended for tourists.
I visited early in the morning, on the first subway train arriving about 5:30 a.m. Some Tokyo guidebooks say that if you get there early and are unobtrusive, you can watch the tuna auction, where buyers gather to bid on hundreds of beautiful giant frozen tuna. This is not really true, at least not anymore.
There are very stern security guards/police who will direct you away from the tuna auction and out of the market. So efficient are they that I managed to get kicked out twice before firing off a single frame with my camera.
Since May, the market has restricted the number of visitors who can watch the auction. There are two time periods when visitors are allowed into the area: from 5 to 5:40 a.m. and from 5:40 to 6:15 a.m. Only 70 people are allowed in during each time slot.
Registration starts at 4:30 a.m., according to the market, so get there early if you want to be one of the lucky few to attend the auction.
Tuna auction or no, the rest of the market is interesting, with every manner of fish, mollusk and possibly mammal that can be pulled from the sea, awaiting buyers (that's wholesale buyers, not tourists).
There are many sushi shops ringing the market, offering some of the freshest sushi available. Stop in for breakfast after checking out the market.