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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
I have to say, most fishmongers are very friendly and have big smiles – just like this one!
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.
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.
The many stalls of the inner market – and the perfect spot for a photo.
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 kombu, komochi kombu.
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.