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Tsukiji Fish Market Tsukiji

Tsukiji is the central fish market of Tokyo. Professor Theodore Bestor, in his book of the same name, subtitles it as “The Fish Market at the Center of the World”, and we have to agree with this characterisation. Tsukiji (auctioning off more than two million kilograms of fish every morning) without any fanfare dwarfs every other such market, in Japan or elsewhere.

Tuna On Sale At Tsukiji

Tuna On Sale At Tsukiji Fish Market

In August and October of 2006, we visited the “outer market” of Tsukiji to browse through the shops and stalls of fish vendors, knife merchants (very appropriate), souvenir shops, and a wide variety of food service establishments. On both occasions, we stopped in for lunch at Sushi Zanmai, an unbelievably busy restaurant serving the absolute best sashimi and sushi you could imagine.

Inside Sushi Zanmai During Busy Lunch Period

Sushi Zanmai Restaurant at Tsukiji

As we approached Sushi Zanmai for the very first time, we were greeted by a large crowd of people apparently engaged in some kind of festival, as they were all clapping and playing various percussion instruments. Turns out Sushi Zanmai had just taken delivery of a large tuna which we estimated at around 150 kilograms. Some of the restaurant chefs were already surrounding the fish with metre-long knives at the ready. By the time we had finished our leisurely lunch and emerged onto the street, all signs of the tuna were gone.

Outside Sushi Zanmai After A World-Class Sashimi And Sushi Lunch

Sushi Zanmai Restaurant at Tsukiji

Adjacent Stores Selling Highly Related Wares

Fish Vendor at Tsukiji
When You Sell Very Fresh Fish
Knife Vendor at Tsukiji
You Need Very Sharp Knives

A Street Of Delights For A“fish”ionados?

Fish Restaurants at Tsukiji

At the edge of Tsukiji's outer market there is a small shrine named Namiyoke (loosely interpreted as Protection for Fishermen).

Namiyoke Shrine

Fish Restaurants at Tsukiji Fish Restaurants at Tsukiji

We bought this good luck charm from the souvenir shop (naturally) adjacent to Namiyoke Shrine. The left picture is a “Good Luck Sea Bream”. The right picture says “Open For Good Luck”.

Fish Restaurants at Tsukiji

We have read (and recommended to all our friends) a great book by Theodore Bestor, Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Harvard University, whose book, appropriately entitled Tsukiji—The Fish Market at the Center of the World, is the definitive study of the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Tsukiji the book combines anthropological scholarship with personal experiences, intertwined with cultural and economic observations, describing the history of Tokyo's fish-vending community from its days in Nihonbashi to its present position as the largest and arguably most influential fish market in the world.

Etymology of Tsukiji:

For those readers wondering if the characters 築 地 (Tsukiji) have any special wonderful meaning like “The Fish Market at the End of the Universe”, we must disappoint you. The name 築 地 translates into English more or less as “Land-Fill”. The present site of Tsukiji is on land reclaimed from the Sumida river. Read Professor Bestor's excellent book referenced above for an extensive history of how Tsukiji came to be.

 Tsukiji image at the start of this web page:

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Page Updated 2011 December 10