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Planning A Trip To The 2020 Games In Tokyo? Wake Up Early For The Largest Fish Market In The World

By Devin Lowe | Sept. 25, 2018, 11:05 a.m. (ET)


The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may be two years away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.

The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest operation of its kind in the world, offloading upwards of 700,000 metric tons of seafood annually. Built in 1935, it continues a centuries-long tradition of fish trading in Tokyo. The market sprawls across 56 acres, where 1,200 vendors sell seafood from 60 different countries.

Tsukiji is comprised of inner and outer sections. In the inner market, registered wholesale dealers process the incoming seafood for auction, and at the outer market, vendors sell fresh fish, sushi and other Japanese goods to the gathered tourists.

With the exception of Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays, the market opens every day around 3 a.m., when fisheries begin to haul in the day’s catches, which range from seaweed to tuna fish weighing hundreds of pounds. 

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A man surveys the day's catch at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.


One of the biggest draws of the market is the tuna auction, beginning at 5:30 a.m. The auction welcomes 120 spectators in two groups of 60 on a first-come, first-served basis, and to be one of the lucky viewers, you should plan to get to the market as early as possible. Tokyo tourist guidebooks recommend arriving as early as 3 a.m., but during spring and fall, lines may begin forming even earlier.

City officials initiated plans to move the market to the Toyosu district ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to accommodate more vendors and spectators. Through October 2018, you can visit the market at its current location in Tsukiji and apply to see the tuna auction at the Osakana Fukyu Center at the market’s Kachidoki Gate.