We finally made it to Japan. First stop was Tokyo and what a city it was! We landed late at night and I was amazed at how many people were seen in the streets! Tons of people here and there, all going places. I forgot how tired I was as we got swept up in the madness well past midnight. The first thing we did was find some ramen and beer. Interesting experience it was purchasing ramen through a machine, choosing toppings and such blindly as we do not read Japanese. All in all, things went smoothly and the ramen was delicious! After dinner we wandered around Shinjuku some more, went to a goth cafe for more drinks, and then to all-night karaoke. Since we were already awake into the wee hours, we decided to stay up until 4am and get in line for tuna auction viewing at Tsukiji Market.
Arriving at 4am to get in line for tuna auction viewing tickets is simply too late. I don’t know what time most of the people get there, but only 140 are permitted per day. Being turned away was disappointing, but that soon changed after we wandered into the market area where vendors were setting up. I was in awe of the sheer variety of seafood and feeling pretty satisfied about our trip to the market until… lo and behold we found ourselves with front row viewing of the tuna auction!!! Of course, we had to squat down on the wet, fishy floor to see under the warehouse door to get a glimpse, but it was so worth it. Needless to say, we were promptly escorted out of the area and given a swift scolding. We were also informed that the vendor area was also off limits until after 9 am. Oops.
Our reward for staying up all night? 7am sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Itadori Bekkan. I recommend this small stand located in between an alley leading toward the market. The fish was excellent (menu only in Japanese so take a chance).
Do’s and Dont’s:
Do wear comfortable shoes, nothing fancy because the floors are wet and sometimes bloody
Do follow the rules or else the guards will not be happy
Do wait until 9am before entering the marketplace
Do have a sushi breakfast afterward
Do try small food items at the stalls outside of the market. There’s a musubi vendor who has a great variety of filled rice balls
Don’t be like us and find yourself in a forbidden area of the private auction area- get in line EARLY, 2-3am-ish to secure a ticket for the auction (I wish we knew this beforehand)
Don’t get in the way of the vendors, snap your photos QUICKLY and move on
If you are interested in seafood, this wholesale market is amazing.