Last update : Oct 8th, 2020
The move from Tsukiji to the new Toyosu Market was supposed to take place in November 2016. A last minute reversal by the newly-elected Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has led to confusion and uncertainty over the status of Toyosu, which has cost the city over 5 billion USD to build.
The main issue was the contamination with toxic substances on the surface of the market. This is no surprise at the Toyosu was a former site of a facility run by Tokyo Gas.
The city has insisted enough additional work has been done to contain the matter and assure the safety of the food and workers at the market. Despite many questions over the safety, the Tokyo government went ahead with giving a green light for the opening and the new market opened for business on Oct 11th, 2018.
Visitors have access from 5 am until 3pm on days the market is open. Unlike Tsukiji, visitors will not be allowed to walk on the same floor as the workers.; access will be restricted to a designated route. The new market basically consists of three areas as shown in the image above and entrances for each building is directly connected with the Shijo-mae station of the Yurikamome train.
The Fish Wholesale Market building is where to go for seeing tuna and other fish auctions. You are allowed into the hallway overlooking the auction floor from after 5 am and you should be able to see transactions until about 6:30 am.
Views are through a double-glazed window, making photography challenging. Also you cannot directly hear the sound coming from the auction, though since October 2019 the live sound is broadcast through the speakers in the hallway which does help to enhance the visitor experience.
Unlike the old Tsukiji Market, there is no limit to the number of visitors permitted - no more waiting in line for three hours!
On January 2019 a open-air viewing deck opened next to the auction area allowing visitors better sights and sounds of what's happening.
Up to 120 people will be permitted to enter, but advance reservations are necessary through a website that is Japanese only at the time of writing. Applications must be submitted during a one week window in the previous month you intend to visit.
Results will be sent by e-mail a week after applications close.
(UPDATE Oct 8th, 2020)Entrance to the open-deck had been suspended because of COVID, but will resume on November 1st with a limit of 70 applicants per day.
The Fish Intermediate Wholesale Building is where the auctioned off fish end up and during the Tsukiji era, this was where you could walk in and see just about every type of fish on earth.
Unfortunately there is hardly any view from the viewing windows at Toyosu. There are only six incredibly small windows giving visitors no feel for all the action happening below. Very disappointing for someone who had expected to see more!
This building is where most of the restaurants are operating; this includes the famous "Sushi Dai" (expect long queues as their place is no bigger than the one they had at Tsukiji) or the "Yoshinoya" gyu-don (beef bowl) place.
On the third floor, there are shops selling processed goods as well as kitchen equipment including knives. However you don't see any fish being sold here...
Perhaps the highlight of this building is the beautiful space at the rooftop. On a clear day, it's even possible to see Mount Fuji! Note that access is limited to a small elevator - you will see it on the way to the restaurants.
The Fruit and Vegetable Market Building features state of the art facilities and is a huge improvement over the mess at former Tsukiji.
Again, through the observation path, visitors can get a view of all the movement including the early morning auctions which start from around 6:30. So it's actually possible to see the tuna auctions, then make a quick move to the fruit and veg section and not miss the best stuff.
Also the "Daiwa Sushi" restaurant moved into the shops on the ground floor, and perhaps because this area is less visited by tourists, the queues appeared to be shorter compared with the one in Tsukiji.
A new tourist facility opened in January 2020...
Perhaps to answer criticism that Toyosu was too boring for tourists, a new facility called Toyosu Marche Edomae Jokamachi opened with a total 21 stores/restaurants. This is a temporary project while a larger building featuring more retail space and an onsen hot springs opens in 2022.
There probably was not much thought put into this facility with the rush to open it before the Olympics; the space is small and cramped with a bad layout - not really worth visiting at all.
Q: How can we access the Toyosu Market?
A: Take the Metro Yurakucho Line to Toyosu, then change to the elevated Yurikamome trains. Get off at Shijo-mae station which is the second stop. The ride takes just a few minutes. You could also take the Yurikamome train from the Shimbashi side, but note the ride will take much longer - about 30 minutes.
There will also be direct buses from Shimbashi Station, aimed mostly for the workers of the market.
Q: Will there be more facilities for tourists at the Toyosu Market?
A: There are plans for a huge mall, hotel and spa facility. However construction came to a complete halt from the result of the chaos leading up to the move. Late 2022 is the latest projection for the opening, but even this might be delayed due to the COVID pandemic.
Q: What happens with the old Tsukiji Market?
A: While the wholesale area (also referred to as the "inner market") closed down, the majority of the shops in the outer market remains open. Tsukiji has remained just as busy after the move as many local consumers would prefer shopping at the more convenient Tsukiji then going to Toyosu which mostly cater to wholesale.
Meanwhile, the buildings in the inner market were quickly demolished to make way for a new road and temporary parking space during the 2020 Olympics. What would be built after that is unknown, though Governor Koike had previously proposed the possibility of building another city market geared mainly for tourism.
There had also been some hope the Yomiuri Giants will build a new ballpark here, since the Tokyo Dome is becoming old and outdated. The Giants instead will invest $30M in renovating the dome.
Most likely the space will be used to build more offices or condos, but with the pandemic and a slump in the economy even that might not generate much demand.
Q: So the final question, is Toyosu worth going for tourists??
A: If you are able to wake up early in time for the auctions, YES, since the viewing environment is still okay despite having to observe everything from a floor above. There is no longer the need to queue long hours, leaving the possibility of visiting without the use of expensive taxis and just public transport (Hint: Use the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line to Toyosu, then switch to the Yurikamome train for the fastest transit)
At other times of the day, you really won't be seeing much fish at all. The new market really doesn't have a very welcoming feel, and it will be far more interesting to just browse the shops in the Tsukiji Outer Market, which remains a busy place even after the move.
Contact us if you have any questions about the new market.