How to apply and see tuna auction at Toyosu Fish Market

Outline

The Tsukiji Market trades seafood and fresh products and it has been featured in such documentary films as Jiro Dreams of Sushi or Tsukiji Wonderland, but its aging facilities and limited space started to pose serious problems. In October 2018, the market was transferred to Toyosu, 3 km from Tsukiji (Some retailers still remain there). Like the Fulton Fish Market in New York, Toyosu brings together seafood from all over the world. It is no exaggeration to say it is a world-class market, both in quality and quantity.

Hours

The Toyosu Market is open to the public from 5am to 5pm, but it closes once or twice each week, on Sunday, national holidays or Wednesdays. Please check the detailed hours with the calendar from the link below.

Toyosu Market Business Day Calendar

Access

The Toyosu Market is located in the Tokyo Bay area, about 2-3 km away from the central area.

Toyosu Market
6-6-1 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan

You can use a train or taxi to get to the Toyosu Market.

Tuna Auction

How to see the auction?

There are two ways to see the tuna auction.

First, you apply through the website and win the visit in a lottery. After you win, you will get a visitor pass on site for the day and watch the auction from the Tuna Auction Observer Deck on the first floor, where the auction is held.

The other way is to get a visitor pass without applying beforehand and watch the auction on the second floor through the glass windows. The auction starts at around 5:30am and ends at around 6:30am..

Seeing from the first floor

How to apply?

Every month, the website accepts applications for the next month. (e.g. If you want to watch the tuna auction in February 2020, you need to apply through the website in January 2020 and win the lottery.).

Official website for application 

You can apply for up to 5 people each time and you can list up to 3 days for your visit. Even if a person in the group is unable to come on the day, you cannot bring someone else instead. The reception will require you to show your ID to check if the names match with the applications. (We check the names to prevent people from reselling the tickets.)

The result of the lottery will be e-mailed to you. Once you win the lottery, print out the e-mail and make sure everyone brings his or her photo ID. Please come to the third floor of the Management Facilities Building in Block 7 and check in by 5:30am.

Since no trains run before 5:30, you will need to use a taxi.

How to go with taxi?

From the Ginza area, it takes about 15 minutes and costs 1,500 to 2,000 JPY. When you go to watch the tuna auction, tell the taxi driver that you want to go to Block 7 of the Toyosu Market (6-6-1 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan). Few taxi drivers know where each building is located in the market, so show them the map below and say that you want to go to the Management Facilities Building in Block 7.

Official Map in Japanese

Official Map in English

Direction in English

Direction in Japanese for a taxi driver

When you get off at the intersection the Management Facilities Building is facing, you can get to a pedestrian walkway through stairs from any corner (There is no name for the intersection, so use the pedestrian walkway as a landmark). Walk up the stairs and follow an English sign to the Management Facilities Building.

How to get visitor pass?

Enter the Management Facilities Building, turn right, walk through a restaurants area, and you will find the reception for visitors of the tuna auction. Tell your name at the reception and show your photo ID. Once your name is confirmed, you will get a visitor pass and a red jacket.

After 5:30am, each group is led to the observation deck on the first floor one by one. There is a glass window, but you will not be in a secluded room so that you can enjoy the heat of the auction, spirited voices and the smell of tuna.

After the visit starts, the next group will come in 10 to 20 minutes, so you will stay till the staff asks you to leave the deck. You will go back to the third floor and return the red jacket and visitor pass.

Seeing from the second floor

How to apply?

You can watch the tuna auction without applying beforehand. The auction is held from 5:30am to 6:30am and you can use a train or taxi to get there before it ends.

How to go with train?

The nearest station to the market is Shijo-mae Station on the Yurikamome Line (shown as U), which runs through the Tokyo Bay area. It takes 27 minutes from Shinbashi Station on the JR Line or 3 minutes from Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho Line.

Official Website of Yurikamome line

If you want to check train schedules, Japan Transit Planner is a useful tool.

Official website of Japan Transit Planner

Visitor Pass

Once you get out of Shijo-mae Station, you can find a signpost to the Toyosu Market. Turn left at the signpost and head to the Management Facilities Building.

Enter the building, turn right, walk through a restaurants area, and you will find the reception for visitors of the tuna auction. Get a visitor pass here and head toward the Fish Wholesale Market Observation Gallery.

You can see the auction only through glass windows and cannot hear or smell directly, but still you can enjoy the atmosphere. After you finish watching the auction, please return the visitor pass.

How to evaluate Tuna?

To evaluate fish, you need a great deal of experience examining the conditions of its meat or skin, the glistening in the eye, how it feels and where it came from. No matter how experienced buyers are, it happens that disassembled tuna turns out to have its meat burned (when you catch tuna, its body temperature rises and its meat gets burned).

Evaluating tuna is regarded as very difficult.

Flow of Tuna Trade

There are various routes for trading tuna. Usually, tuna gathered in Toyosu from all over the world (1,000 frozen tuna and 200 fresh tuna per day on average) are traded from wholesalers to about 600 intermediate wholesalers in the morning auction. Afterward, intermediate wholesalers disassemble tuna in their shops inside the market and sell the pieces to retailers or restaurants. As one scene in Jiro Dreams of Sushi shows, most owners of sushi restaurants come to the market to buy fish in the morning. High-quality tuna (Pacific bluefin tuna, Southern bluefin tuna, Bigeye tuna, Yellowfin tuna) gathered in Toyosu from the globe can be transported to high-end sushi restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and other cities.

The record price of Tuna auction

The first auction in 2019 was held on January 5 with the record price of 333.6 million JPY (Approx. 3,000,000USD) for a 278kg tuna from Oma, Aomori. It was bought by an affiliated company of “Sushizanmai,”a well-known, popular sushi chain with almost 60 restaurants. Given the Japanese saying that “The first catch of the season brings luck,” the first auction tends to mark a higher price than usual. The price is also supposed to include marketing fees, as the first auction of the year tends to attract attention from both domestic and foreign mass media and the company is featured in various news outlets. If we divide 333.6 million JPY tuna, each piece would cost 22,000JPY! Sushizanmai sold all sushi pieces of the tuna for 398JPY on that day. If you want to share good luck, come to Tokyo for the first auction of 2020 in early January and you may be able to enjoy high-end tuna for a lower price.

The owner of Sushizanmai who purchased the most expensive tuna in the world

Restaurants

Block 6

Sushi Dai

Sushi Dai was a super popular sushi restaurant in the Tsukiji Fish Market. People used to wait for 4 to 5 hours then, but after it was transferred to Toyosu, the wait time went down to 2 to 3 hours. You can enjoy meals awarded a Bib Gourmand by Michelin with 10 pieces (and one piece of your choice) for 4,000JPY. The restaurant opens at 5am, so I recommend that you go there early for breakfast.

Sushi Dai is located in a restaurants area on the third floor of the Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market Building (Block 6). From Shijo-mae Station, turn right after the gate and go along the street.

On the same floor, there are also Torito, a restaurant that specializes in “Oyakodon” (a rice bowl with chicken and egg on top) (for about 1,000JPY) and Sushi Bun, an established restaurant with the history of 180 years (chef’s favorites for 4,200JPY). I personally recommend these restaurants as well.

Block 5

Daiwa Sushi

Another popular restaurant along with Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Fish Market. After its transference to Toyosu, Daiwa Sushi also has a shorter wait time of less than 1 hour. It serves 7 pieces of sushi and 1 roll for 4,320JPY. Opens at 5:30am.

Daiwa Sushi is located on the first floor of Fruit and Vegetables Building (Block 5). From Shijo-mae Station, turn left after the gate, go along the street and go downstairs following the sign.

After Toyosu

How to go to Tsukiji

Toyosu and Tsukiji are only 3km apart, but no train directly connects them. If you go to Tsukiji, take a bus via Shimbashi Station from a stop near management facilities bldg (市01). You will get to Tsukiji in about 15 minutes. This bus route is also used by a lot of restaurant employees, who carry seafood from the market in a cooler.

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