Food Sake Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market Tour

Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market, is in the heart of Tokyo. It is a short walk from the glitzy Ginza shopping district and just minutes from the renovated Kabukiza theater. It’s one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors. And, it is our most popular tour that our company, Food Sake Tokyo, offers. Shinji, a Japanese fishmonger, used to be a buyer at Tsukiji Market so he offers an insider’s perspective to the market.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 1

Here, Shinji is being interviewed by food journalist Steve Dolinsky at Tsukiji, for Public Radio International. It’s an insight to the sights and sounds of Tsukiji:

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 2

Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to Toyosu, a few kilometers down along Tokyo Bay. Another reason to come and see this historic market before it moves.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 3

Shinji is able to talk about all of the seasonal seafood, how it’s prepared, and what it the texture is like. Shinji’s tour focuses on the inner market which is the wholesale area for seafood. It is here that he worked as a buyer. It’s a crazy place to navigate and to really understand what is here and what is what, you need a guide who understands Japanese seafood.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 4

One thing you will notice is that there is no stinky fish smell that you find at most fish markets. The fishmongers are very careful to clean and wash down each stall when they close down shop.

Shinji at Tsukiji 5

At the sushi counter Shinji is able to make recommendations on unique seafood that you most likely won’t be able to try at home. He can also help to demystify the culture of dining at a sushi-ya. This time of year we are crazy for kinmédai, alfonsino, which is a pink fleshed fish. The best kinmédai, are harvested from the shallow waters near Chōshi port in Chiba. Steve Dolinsky writes about having kinmédai and includes a photo here.

Shinji at Tsukiji 6

I have to say, most fishmongers are very friendly and have big smiles – just like this one!

Yukari at Tsukiji 1

I also offer tours of Tsukiji Market. The focus of my tour is the outer market which is open to the general public. It is filled with stalls selling produce, pickles, prepared foods, tea, knives, and much more. We are enjoying tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) on a stick. Reminds me of the Minnesota State Fair – the food on a stick part.

Yukari at Tsukiji 3

I also take clients into the inner market so that they can get a feel for the heart of the market. Here we are looking at fish killed by a special ikéjimé process.

Yukari at Tsukiji 5

The many stalls of the inner market – and the perfect spot for a photo.

Yukari at Tsukiji 7

There is lots to discover at Tsukiji, including learning about herring roe in a sac, and herring roe that has been laid on a piece of kombukomochi kombu.

Yukari Tsukiji OverviewThe view everyone loves – overlooking the inner market and Tokyo Bay.

We look forward to welcoming you to Tokyo and to Tsukiji Market. Here are more details on our tours.

* A special thanks to our clients for letting us share their photos with you.


MetPod photo 201302

Kamasami Kong, Tommy Aoki, and Yukari Sakamoto

I had the great pleasure of doing a MetPod with Kamasami Kong to share information about our new company, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the link below

Here is Tommy Aoki’s MetPod. He talks about the United Tastes of America competition.


Suji's Pastrami


Suji’s pastrami sandwich. A taste of New York City in Tokyo. Suji’s is the sponsor for the MetPod.  Minato-ku, Azabudai 3-1-5

Food Sake Tokyo Tours

Food Sake Tokyo

Food Sake Tokyo conducts private guided field trips to Tokyo’s popular food destinations that is led by food professionals. Yukari Sakamoto is a chef, sommelier, shōchū advisor, and author of Food Sake Tokyo. Shinji Sakamoto is a fishmonger and former buyer at Tsukiji Market. Popular topics include market visits, saké or shōchū tastings, or shopping at local supermarkets. The customized tours are suited to your needs and include itinerary planning for your trip.

From time to time we will offer guided field trips that are open to the general public. These will be posted on this blog.

What makes Food Sake Tokyo different from other food tour companies is that we are food professionals ourselves. We offer a unique insight to the food culture of Japan. Many of our clients are professional chefs, restaurateurs, beverage specialists, food retailers, and food journalists.

Other services we provide include:

  • Tokyo food tours led by a chef, sommelier, shōchū advisor, and a Japanese fishmonger.
  • Interpreting from Japanese to English for food related events, market tours, cookbooks, websites.
  • Interpreting services for English speaking food professionals (retail and restaurants) visiting Japan.
  • Depachika tours that deconstruct the massive food halls by Yukari, a former employee of one of Tokyo’s most famous depachika.
  • Supermarket tours to learn about Japanese ingredients.
  • Fixer for food and saké travel programs and interpreting services for food and beverage journalists.
  • Organize business trips to Japan for food professionals.
  • Shinji does private tours of Tsukiji Market.
  • Learn about seasonal Japanese seafood by dining together with Shinji at a sushi restaurant.
  • Shinji does sashimi classes in client’s homes (we are currently looking for a kitchen).
  • Shinji does supermarket tours focusing on the seafood section introducing not only fresh, seasonal seafood, but also frozen, canned, dried, and other products unique to Japan.
  • Shinji does consulting for Japanese seafood companies looking to expand overseas.
  • Private catering of seafood dishes paired with saké or shōchū.
Tsukiji Tour
Tsukiji Tour

Tsukiji Tour photo by Jun Takagi from Budget Travel

Praise of our tours:

Travel & Leisure: World’s Greatest Tour Guides

Budget Travel

Rick Bayless

” I can’t thank you enough – I wish I had done this 4 months ago!” regarding supermarket tour – AK, Kamakura

“Shinji is terrific, patient, knowledgeable and wonderful. There wasn’t a question that he could not answer.” – JS, California

“We love the sushi lunch as well and thought that the explanations and pictures of the different seafood were extremely helpful. For the first time in our life, we could at least visualize the seafood we were eating. Shinji’s insightful knowledge of seafood brought the tour of Tsujiki Market alive.” TK, Singapore

“Your knowledge shines through and your friendly and professional manner to your guests and the shopkeepers alike puts everyone at ease.” WL, Sydney

“Wanted to thank you again for such an awesome tour! It was really a highlight of our vacation.” CM, United States of America

“…especially to Shinji for a very enjoyable and informative tour of Tsukiji and environs, and a delicious sushi lunch. Our morning visit was one of the real highlights of our time in Japan!” BH, United States of America

“After reading the wonderfully informative and gorgeously illustrated “Food Sake Tokyo,” I knew I had to take a food tour with Yukari Sakamoto.  During a two-hour guided stroll through the depachika in Takashimaya’s flagship store, I learned more than I could have ever imagined about Japanese food, history and culture.  Of all the experiences I managed to squeeze in during my first trip to Japan, my tour with Yukari was easily the best.”  EL, New York

“Shinji was a wonderful guide–informative, friendly, and full of enthusiasm for the market.  We felt that we gained a real understanding of the market itself and learned about some products we can use in our own cooking at home–just what we wanted.” SK, New York City

Praise for Food Sake Tokyo:

“I just returned from my first trip to Japan with my family and friends of ours. My wife bought your book, and we loved it so much that we bought a copy for the family with whom we traveled (they are both food-industry veterans). The 8 of us (4 adults, 4 kids) were found all over Tokyo, huddled up with our two copies of your book in hand.” JS, United States of America

Yukari & Shinji

Born in Tokyo and raised on the shores of Lake Wobegon, Yukari Sakamoto trained as a chef and baker at the French Culinary Institute. Following that she trained as a sommelier at The American Sommelier Association and worked as a sommelier at the New York Bar and Grill in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. She also worked at Takashimaya’s flagship store in Nihonbashi as a sommelier in the saké department of the depachika. While at Takashimaya she passed the exam to be a shōchū advisor. Shōchū is a distilled spirit native to Japan. Yukari apprenticed at Coco Farm and Winery in Ashikaga, Tochigi.  Yukari also offers market tours with Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture.

Shinji photo

Yukari is married to Shinji Sakamoto, a former buyer at Tsukiji Market. Shinji has ten years’ retail experience in Japan selling seasonal seafood directly to customers. He would make cooking recommendations and cut up seasonal fish as the customer needed. He also has three years’ experience selling seasonal Japanese seafood and frozen seafood in both New York City and Singapore.

Yukari’s first book, Food Sake Tokyo, is published by The Little Bookroom as a part of the Terroir Guides. It is a food lover’s guide to Japanese food and beverages and introduces restaurants and food shops in Tokyo. There is also a chapter on Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. The first half of the book focuses on the food and beverages of Japan. The second half selects some of Tokyo’s popular destinations by station and suggests shops not to be missed in that area.

Any changes to information in Food Sake Tokyo, that I am aware of, will be posted on this blog. Please search under “updates” for the most recent PDF that you can print out.

Our other blog focuses on cooking Japanese food at home.

I am represented by Lisa Ekus.

Yukari’s twitter account

We can be reached at yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com.

GENERAL CANCELLATION POLICY: Should Food Sake Tokyo need to cancel any or all segments of a program, every effort will be made to re-schedule sessions at a mutually convenient time. If that is not possible, a full refund will be made promptly for sessions canceled by Food Sake Tokyo.

If an individual or group is unable to attend a Food Sake Tokyo program for which they have already enrolled, that person or group may designate a substitute for him/her/them. No additional fees are charged to the participant (substitute attendee). Any financial arrangements made between the original participant and his/her/their substitute is at the discretion of the person originally enrolled. All requests to have a substitute attend a program, however, must be received by phone or e-mail at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled class meeting. When making such a request, please provide the full name and (local, Tokyo) contact phone number and e-mail address of each person who will be taking the place of the originally enrolled individual or group.

LIMITATIONS on LIABILITY: Every possible precaution is taken to ensure your personal safety and the safety of those in your group. However, registration for, and attendance at, all programs is subject to the following condition: the director and staff of Food Sake Tokyo, are released from, and specifically disclaim, all responsibilities for injuries or illness incurred traveling to and from sessions, during sessions, or resulting from food prepared at, or according to recipes distributed during, cooking & tasting sessions, market tours or other field trips, including restaurant meals.

NOTE: Tuition fees for cooking workshops, market tours, and other field trips conducted by Food Sake Tokyo do NOT INCLUDE food & beverage not specifically mentioned in the program description. Tuition does NOT include the cost of local transportation. Any purchases made by participants during class, market tours or field trips are at the discretion of each participant. Participants in all programs are responsible for making arrangements for, and making payment for, their airfare, lodgings, and transportation to/from/within Japan. Participants are also responsible for obtaining and paying for any travel/trip/health insurance coverage they would like to have.

Tsukiji Tour

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest seafood market. This tour explores the outer market and the many different food, knives, kitchenware, tableware, and more at the market. Above is my favorite tamagoyaki shop, Shouro.

While Tsukiji is famous for its seafood, the outer market has many stalls with produce, pickles, kombu, katsuobushi, nori, and much more. This is fresh wasabi.

In autumn, aromatic matsutake, the king of mushrooms in Japan, are for sale.

Fall is also the time of year when ginkgo trees drop their nuts. We love these ginnan simply grilled as a small bite with sake or shochu. It’s also lovely in a savory, hot egg custard, chawanmushi.

Kibun’s stall has a wide variety of deep-fried fish cakes, perfect for oden, or for grilling in the toaster oven and having as a snack.

Here are some of the Satsuma-age deep-fried fish cakes from Kibun. The long ones on the right are gobo (burdock). Other flavors include onion, octopus, squid, shirasu, and more.

This Food Sake Tokyo tour is being offered through Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture on Tuesday, November 13th.

Ningyocho Tour

Kappabashi Tour

Depachika Tour – There will also be a tour of a depachika, the epicurean gourmet food halls in the department stores. I worked at Nihonbashi Takashimaya for two years and will share many things that you may miss while visiting on your own. The depachika tour will look at all of the areas including sake, confectionaries (both Western and Japanese), osouzai (prepared foods including bento), meat, seafood, bakeries, and the supermarket area.

Ningyocho Tour

Ningyocho is a lovely district of Tokyo that is filled with many shops, some with artisans at work like this sembei shop. You’ll also discover a popular taiyaki stall as well as several sweets shops with azuki stuffed ningyoyaki cakes and much more.

There are always surprising delights in the area, including these crackers with the face of the prime minister, Noda-san.

One of my favorite shops is Futaba Tofu, of course for its tofu, but also for soy milk doughnuts.

I will be guiding a tour of Ningyocho on Tuesday, November 13th. The tour includes a copy of my book, Food Sake Tokyo. Please register at Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture website.

Tsukiji Tour

Kappabashi Tour

Depachika Tour – There will also be a tour of a depachika, the epicurean gourmet food halls in the department stores. I worked at Nihonbashi Takashimaya for two years and will share many things that you may miss while visiting on your own. The depachika tour will look at all of the areas including sake, confectionaries (both Western and Japanese), osouzai (prepared foods including bento), meat, seafood, bakeries, and the supermarket area.

Kappabashi Tour

Kappabashi is where chefs and restaurateurs come to get everything they need to set up shop. I will be guiding a group through Kappabashi with Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture on Friday, November 16th.

Colorful hashioki for resting your chopsticks.

Plastic food samples is perhaps what Kappabashi is most famous for. These frosty mugs of beer are some of my favorite.

I also can not resist lacquer for soup, rice and side dishes.

This tour will explore the many shops of Kappabashi. The tour includes a copy of my book, Food Sake Tokyo. Register for the tour at Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture website.

Tsukiji Tour

Ningyocho Tour

Depachika Tour – There will also be a tour of a depachika, the epicurean gourmet food halls in the department stores. I worked at Nihonbashi Takashimaya for two years and will share many things that you may miss while visiting on your own. The depachika tour will look at all of the areas including sake, confectionaries (both Western and Japanese), osouzai (prepared foods including bento), meat, seafood, bakeries, and the supermarket area.