Tsukiji is located in Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Chuo-ku is the central part of Tokyo, which can also be regarded as a center of Japan, and Tsukiji is at the right center of Chuo-ku. If you mention Tsukiji, people will think of its huge Central Wholesale Market, especially the tuna auction at its fish wholesale section. There are eight major sites in Chuo-ku, and Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market is among the most popular ones. Tsukiji not only is a modern commercial center but also is famous for its good preservation of Japanese traditional cultural properties. The famous Hamarikyu, and Honganji are there.
Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market
Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market is the largest produce wholesale market in Japan, and is one of the biggest markets in the world. Dealing with a great variety of farm produce and marine products, it handles more than 80% of the produce wholesale business in Tokyo, and plays a pivotal role in purveying perishables to the Metropolitan citizens, it is endearingly called a’huge kitchen for the 12-million people in Tokyo’. Though it’s in the right center of Tokyo, you can hardly imagine how big the market is. To some extent, it is not only a wholesale market but also a popular tourist attraction. Many foreign visitors and even domestic visitors get up very only in the morning to come to watch the magnificent scene of the tuna auction (‘seri’ in Japanese’) at the fish market. The auction starts at 5:30 in the morning every day. Thousands of tunas from all around the world, numbered with food color, are lined up in rows on a very broad ground. There attached a tag to each tuna with written the name of the fisherman who caught it and the place where it was caught. You will feel astounded to see so many more than ten feet long fresh blue fin tunas and other species from the far corners of the world as Paris, Australia, Turkey, Spain, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Boston, the Philippines, China, etc.. The auctions are conducted very efficiently at several corners of the market. As soon as the auctioneers clang the handbell, which means the start of the auction, the buyers line up and wait on the associated terraced platforms. The auctioneers call out the numbers and prices of the tunas briskly and you may wonder that why the buyers get the fishes they want so quickly at their acceptable prices. Actually the they had keenly inspected the goods before the auctions started. It’s really magic that a skilled auctioneer can sell more than 200 fish in about 30 minutes! Though the auctions just run from 5:30 A.M. to 9:00 A.M., the market is bustling almost 24 hours. The fishes and other fresh foods, mostly transported to Tokyo by airplane from various parts of the world, keep pouring in from morning until midnight. Around 3 A.M., before daybreak, the wholesalers lay out the fish for auction and then the jobbers carefully examine the quality of the goods and appraisethe price. The market’s only quiet time is around 1 P.M., but it’s the time for the market’s cleaning-up, and the tank truck sprinklers will wash the whole market clean for the next transactions.
There are also other auctions at other sections of the Central Wholesale Market, for example, the auctions of vegetables and fruits start at 7:A.M., and other corners, as those for other fishes, shrimps, shellfishes, frozen fishes, dried goods, etc., are also bustling.
Tsukiji Jyogai Market
General buyers or consumers can not enter the Central Wholesale Market introduced above, but there is another tremendous world for them just outside the Central Wholesale Market as the Japanese word’Jyogai’ (outside the ground) stands for. There are more than 500 different produce shops and you can almost buy anything there. The marine products, meat and other perishables are very fresh and directly from the Central Wholesale Market, and there are also many delicious restaurants, which use the freshest perishables from the market, harmoniously spotted among the shops. You can enjoy what you see at the market, which are cooked in different Japanese traditional cooking ways, at the restaurants’on the spot’. This area is quite a contrast to Ginza (a modern commercial center in Tokyo), and is full of Japanese shitamachi atmosphere. Please don’t miss the chance of pleasing your eyes and tongue. You will surely have a good enjoyment of Japanese traditional culture and eating culture there.
Tsukiji Kaiwai is a terrific area that is full of the atmosphere of both modern office street and ancient shitamachi culture. The famous Tsukiji Honganji is located there. It looks like an Indian temple, which may symbolize the connection of Japanese history to the outside world, and is regarded to be a symbol of Tsukiji. It is a Buddhist temple that was built in 1617 as a branch temple of the West Honganji in Kyoto, but this temple had been burned down in a fire 40 years after it was built, and the one you see right now was rebuilt at the same place by the Tokugawa shogunate. Various Buddhist services are offered and a lot of Japanese traditional events and also wedding ceremonies are carried out here all year round. ‘Hongan’ means the ‘long-cherished wish’, so please just come and pray for the realization of your long-cherished wishes.
Hama Detached Palace, located at the mouth of Sumida River where it flows into Tokyo Bay, is a unique ancient imperial garden surrounded by the sea, and mainly it can be divided into two parts, the South Garden that was built in the Edo Period and was a representative of famous gardens at that time, and the North Garden that was built in the Meiji Period. The South Garden is famous for its tidal garden and two duck farms. The tidal garden will show different’expressions’ as the sea water comes in and out. This place was originally General Ie’s hunting ground. In 1695, Prime Minister Amishige got this land from the General, and filled in the sea to build a villa garden that was called’Kofu Hamashikiya’ or’Umite Shikiya’, and then it was rebuilt or repaired many times afterwards from generation to generation. At the 6th generation of the family, it was renamed’Hama Onden’, and it was mainly used for recreation and social activities by the General. The present appearance dated back to the 11th generation. It is said that the General often departed from here when he did sightseeing by ship on Sumida River. During the Meiji Restoration, this garden became the property of the Imperial Family, and was renamed the present name -‘Hamarikyu’ . Now it is opened to the public. The popular water bus of Tokyo Bay also has a stop here. Beautiful pine trees, unique tearooms on Nakanojima, pleasant sea breeze, and…. It is really a terrific place to visit.
Therefore, Tsukiji is not only a huge’kitchen’ for Tokyo citizens where you can enjoy almost all the delicacies but also a modern and ancient cultural center where you can have a good feel of Japanese traditional culture while enjoying the convenience of modern civilization.
Talk in Tsukiji
Well known for its wholesale markets and the famous Indian architecture Tsukiji Honganji Temple, Tsukiji is a must-see! Tsukiji was originally one of four exclusive national sites for the empire’s wholesale operations. It is still Tokyo’s main port, providing Tokyo daily with Japan’s freshest quality goods from distributor, wholesaler, and straight to the merchants surrounding the port. At Tsukiji, you can find some of Japans freshest foods and eateries, and finest daily merchandise- great for souvenirs. You’ll want to get here early, as Tsukiji is usually open from 4am to about noon. If you are early enough you can witness the bustling auctions taking place in Tsukiji’s central fish market.