The world’s largest seafood market is moving in November. Following are a few basic need-to-know details on the move.
It is not the whole market that is moving, just the jounai 場内 (inner market), which is the wholesale seafood section. The jougai 場外 (outer market) is staying and in speaking with many shop owners in the outer market, they are hoping that tourists and locals will continue to come and shop here.
What is the difference between the jounai and the jougai? The jounai is where the chefs and seafood buyers go early in the morning to buy seafood and produce for restaurants and retail shops. The number of shops in the jounai is roughly about 800 shops. This is only open to the general public after 9 a.m. Before that it is restricted to buyers and sellers. There are some restaurants and shops to the side of the wholesale seafood section, including popular sushi restaurants and purveyors for pantry items, tableware, and kitchenware.
The jougai is the outer market that sprung up naturally around the inner market. Here there are roughly 500 shops and restaurants. This is always open to the general public. There are only a handful of seafood retail shops here. There are many restaurants and retail shops selling everything from tea, knives, sea vegetables like nori and kombu, katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes), dried beans, and much more. There is some anxiety with the outer market shop owners as they have no idea how their business will be affected after the move of the inner market to Toyosu.
Toyosu, the new location for the inner market, is also built on reclaimed land, like Tsukiji. It is only 2.2 km (or about 1.5 miles) from the current location. It is just along Tokyo Bay, heading in the direction to Narita airport.
The Toyosu Ichiba (market) will have three buildings. One for wholesale seafood, a second for wholesale produce, and a third shop for restaurants and retail shops. The popular shops currently at Tsukiji Market like Daiwa Sushi, Sushi Dai, and others in the Uogashi Yokocho, are considered part of the Inner Market, so are scheduled to move. I don’t think all of the shops are planning on moving, especially those with older owners who have no one to pass it on to. The three buildings are separated by large streets, so getting around the three buildings will be much harder than the current layout at Tsukiji.
To see the seafood and produce markets in the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors will be on the 2nd floor looking through glass down on the market. The good news is that more people will be able to witness the tuna auction. The bad news is that for those who love seeing the seafood up close, it will be hard to see from a distance.
To access the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors have to ride the monorail. It is very inconvenient, compared to the current location. The Tokyo Government, which owns the land for both the current inner market and Toyosu, has said that it will provide buses to the new location, but no schedules have been announced, again creating anxiety for those who rely on the market for their work. Currently many Ginza sushiya can ride their bicycle to Tsukiji. The new location will still be accessible by bicycle, but not as convenient as the current location, and not good when it is raining.
The outer market, jougai, that is staying has built a new building that will house 60 shops from the current jounai. Here is a list of the shops that will be staying at Tsukiji. It is a nice mix of vendors (some shops in parentheses) selling tuna (Yamayuki), fresh seafood (Yamafu Suisan), shrimp, processed seafood, and produce (Kushiya).
We are looking forward to seeing this new building when it opens up. At the moment, regarding our Tsukiji tours, we plan to continue to offer the tours in the current location as visitors will be able to see the seafood up close. Our tours are different from the other tours as Shinji used to be a buyer at Tsukiji so he can talk in great detail about seasonal seafood. Our visit to the outer market stops at many shops selling staples to the Japanese pantry. As we are both trained as chefs we can help explain the different ingredients and how they are used in the Japanese kitchen.
We will update this blogpost once the Tsukiji Uogashi Market opens with details on how it is.
When is the big move? The current inner market’s last day is November 2nd. The vendors then have a few days to move to the new location. The new Toyosu Ichiba is scheduled to open on November 7th.
Here is the calendar for Tsukiji.
Finally, the name of the new station on the monorail is not Toyosu Ichiba, but Shijomae.
Regarding the move, the current location was built in 1935 and needs to be modernized. It is too costly to build a temporary market and move it back here, so once it moves to Toyosu, it will stay there.
Part of the land that it is currently on will be used to build a road that will lead out to the Olympic Venues and housing for Olympic athletes. What will happen to the rest of the land is still undecided. Some ideas that have been offered include high-rise condominiums or even a casino.
The move was supposed to have happened in 2015. Some complications with the new site have delayed it. However, with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games around the corner, the move can not be delayed any longer. To see more on the new market, there is a visitor’s center at Tsukiji Market that you can stop by to see more.