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Tsukiji Market In Tokyo

Prior to its relocation to the Toyosu Market in 2018, the Tsukiji Market had the freshest fish in Tokyo Japan if not the entire world.

Fish at Tsukiji Market Tokyo - Japan Tsukiji Market Sushi Breakfast

We had traveled the length of the country with short stops in Chicago and LA, and it was finally time to step back into the “Asia Portal.”

The Asia Portal is not for the meek or the faint of heart. Travel to the Asia Portal requires endurance and an open mind. It also mandates a plan, and, when that goes awry, a certain amount of nimbleness as a world traveler. Our last venture through the Asia Portal took us to China.

This time we were going to Japan with our first stop in Tokyo.

This particular entry into the Asia Portal required two United flights that hurtled us across the length of the United States to Los Angeles where an ANA 777 plane launched us across the International Date Line.

We were headed to Japan where the future is now – a land where derivation meets the highest levels of refinement to create a culture that is utterly original. Japan is the land of the rising sun, the home of sushi, the epicenter of ramen, the capital of tempura, the bastion of yakitori and also the home of an inordinate number of Michelin starred restaurants and French patisseries.

We arrived at Haneda Airport in the southern outskirts of Tokyo at 5 am. We stepped onto the monorail and arrived at Tokyo station early enough to secure day lockers for our somewhat large rolling suitcases. As we walked, the city was asleep and the streets of the upscale Ginza neighborhood whispered quietly.

However, one nearby landmark beckoned us with the hustle-bustle of forklifts and motorized carts steering around each other in recklessly choreographed motion. The vehicles moved with purpose for good reason: the product they were transporting was the freshest seafood in the world

Yes, within two hours of our arrival in Tokyo, we hightailed it to The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, otherwise known as Tsukiji Market.

Why We Visited Tsukiji Market

A Large Tuna Greets Us Outside Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
A Large Tuna Greets Us Outside Tsukiji Market.

The sprawling Tsukiji Market had a dizzying selection of fish and seafood for sale at stands and in its daily early-morning auction. Plus, the market was a great place to enjoy a sushi breakfast.

Prior to its relocation, this famous market was recommended in every Tokyo tour book and was featured in the Nomadic Boys’ Tokyo guide. Without a doubt, a trip to Tsukiji Market was a must for all Tokyo visitors, especially those who love sushi.

During our visit, we wandered through the outer market, perusing the various food and produce stands along with food stalls where market workers and Tokyoites were enjoying various local specialties so early in the morning.

Workers and Locals Enjoying Stew Outside Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Workers and Locals Enjoying Stew Outside Tsukiji Market.

We then ventured into the heart of the market, where we saw fish sales in action. The freshly plucked octopus, bluefin tuna, clams, shrimp and salmon astounded us with their big, shiny, clear eyes and muscular, firm flesh. Even though we weren’t on a guided tour, we were still able to soak it all in.

Fresh Tuna Sides at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Fresh Tuna Sides
Eel at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Workers at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Workers at the Market
Butchers Portion out Fresh Tuna at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Butchers Portion Out Fresh Tuna.
Octopus at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Tsukiji Octopus
Ark Clams at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Ark Clams Say ‘Hello’.

Sushi Breakfast At Tsukiji Market

Sushi restaurants abound all over Tokyo, and some of the very best places such as Jiro Ono’s restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro are inordinately expensive demanding up to $300 a person for an omakase (prix fixe) menu. However, there’s still amazing fish to be found at affordable prices.

Some of these popular sushi counters like Sushi Dai feature customers lined up around the block, waiting as much as two to three hours or more to for breakfast. But there are still many establishments with lower profiles that serve fish that is equally excellent.

Customer line up outside Sushi Bun at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Customers Line Up Outside Sushi Bun.

We chose to eat our Tsukiji Market sushi breakfast at 150-year old Sushi Bun 鮨文 in building 8. Although popular, the lines were humane. The wait was about an hour on the busy Saturday when we arrived; however, the wait was virtually non-existent on our return later in the week.

We ordered two different tastings in order to sample a wider variety of fish. The cost of the two tastings averaged about $30 per person. Once seated, we were served fish on bamboo leaves, about three pieces at a time.

Miso Soup with Baby Cockles at Sushi Bun at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Sushi Bun’s Miso Soup with Baby Cockles

Like many sushi restaurants in the United States, our sushi was accompanied by miso soup. However, to our pleasant surprise, Sushi Bun’s miso soup featured baby cockles that complimented the earthy flavors of the soy miso with the fresh briny flavors of the ocean.

Tsukiji Market Sushi Breakfast in Tokyo Japan
Nigiri at Sushi Bun. From Left to Right: Firefly Squid, Salmon Roe, Toro (Fatty Tuna), and Maguro (Lean Tuna).

Then our nigiri sushi started to arrive – luscious pieces of maguro (lean tuna), toro (tuna belly) and otoro (fattiest tuna belly) as well as baby octopus with a dollop of miso, uni (delectable sea urchin) and ikura (mouth-popping salmon roe).

Sushi Bun Chef at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
A Chef at Sushi Bun reaches for Fresh Maguro (Tuna). The sushi served at Sushi Bun is some of the best in Tokyo without the exorbitant prices or crazy lines.

As we left the market, we breathed in the scents of the soups and other Japanese delicacies. Then we shared fish meatballs on a stick.

Fish Ball Skewer at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo Japan
Daryl enjoys a fish ball skewer.

If we lived in a city with a world-class market like Tsukiji, perhaps we could give up meat. Perhaps. Either way, we’d be eating a heck of a lot of delicious sushi.

Tokyo Planning Checklist

Hungry For Ramen In Tokyo?

Check out our article about Tokyo’s Ramen Street.

About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.

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We self-funded our trip to Tokyo

Original Publication Date: April 22, 2013


Wednesday 1st of May 2013

Nothing beats the fresh sushi found in Japan!!


Friday 26th of April 2013

Curious, were they ok with you taking photos at Sushi Bun? I've sent clients there in the past and they have said that the were told not to take photos. Also they said that service was not kind there (which has never been my experience).

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Friday 26th of April 2013

We love your book and are honored that you have have read our blog post. We hope you will read again, as we have more food-focused Tokyo posts ahead. As for Sushi Bun, we found the service to be quite rude on Saturday morning. The sushi was so good that we went back on a week day morning, and the dining experience was much better. Although they don't allow camera photos, they didn't seem to mind us taking a few with our iPhones.


Tuesday 23rd of April 2013

WOW, beautiful photos and great writing!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 24th of April 2013

Thanks Mike!


Tuesday 23rd of April 2013

Great photos, nicely presented. I think those are firefly squid, not baby octopus. Have a great trip; I look forward to more posts.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 24th of April 2013

Thanks for your comment and feedback. We will look into firefly squid versus baby octopus. Either way, it was delicious!


Monday 22nd of April 2013

Mmmm, sushi breakfast! I wish I could afford to make a habit out of it, especially while I have easy access to Tsukiji. Glad you took advantage of this amazing market!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 24th of April 2013

Thanks for your comment and love your blog!