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Tsukiji Fish Market is the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. It covered an area of 23 hectares. Tsukiji Fish Market was opened in 1935. They say that the Japanese consume about one-fifth of all the fish caught in the world. More than 2,000 metric tons of seafood representing 400 different species are sold by auction every day. Tsukiji Fish Market has about 60,000 registered employees, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, distributors, and company officials. There are two sections, the inner market and the outer market.

In the inner market, preparations for the auction begin as early as 3 a.m. The tuna auction starts at 5:20 and ends at 7:00 a.m. There’s a set public sightseeing course, so you have to follow the directions of the staff. Bidding can only be conducted by licensed buyers who are intermediate wholesalers and representatives for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers. Intermediate wholesalers operate stalls in the market.
The bidders wear baseball caps and plastic badges that identify the store or restaurant they represent. After the auction, the purchased fish are loaded on to trucks and shipped to their destinations or they’re put on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market.

Everyone is busy with there daily routines: some are slicing fish into sections with electric saws; some are moving fish from one area to another; some are dumping them from bucket to bucket; some are slicing and packing.
You can see every sort of fish and crustacean at the stalls and some of them are still alive and squirming. The market is busy from 5:20 to 8 a.m. About 900 wholesale dealers operate small stalls here. Many stalls start to close at 11a.m.and are all closed 1:00 p.m.

In the outer market, there are many wholesale and retail shops which sell Japanese kitchen supplies and groceries, as well as some good sushi restaurants. Please try the delicious sushi. The blowfish called “Fugu,” has poison in its liver. There is a Japanese saying, “I want to taste Fugu, but I don’t want to lose my life,” so it’s carefully cooked by an experienced and licensed chef.

History of Tsukiji

Food catering for Edo Castle

The first fish market in Edo was in Nihonbashi. It was Tokugawa Ieyasu who invited fisherman from Osaka to satisfy the demand for food to cater to Edo’s increasing population. The fisherman would first deliver fish they had caught in Edo Bay to Edo Castle, and then would sell the rest at the market. In the early Meiji period, Japan’s first Western-style hotel and two mission schools, the precdecessors of today’s Meiji Gakuin University and Rikyo University, were built in Tsukiji because there was a foreign settlement there. After the Great Kanto Earthquake, the fish market was moved to Tsukiji and became the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, which handles fruit and vegetable as well as seafood. The Tokyo metropolitan government has decided to move the fish market from Tsukiji to Toyosu.