Last update : Dec 27th, 2018
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 5 pm 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 lots of action until about 6:30 am.
Note that views are through a double-glazed window, making photography challenging. Also you are unable to hear any of the sounds coming from the selling. There is no limit to the number of visitors permitted. There's also a small gallery showing the history of the old Tsukiji Market as well as exhibits on which part of the world the tunas come from.
After January 15th, 2019 a open-air viewing deck will open 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.
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.
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 has come to a complete halt following the delay of the relocation, and likely won't resume anytime soon.
Q: What happens with the old Tsukiji Market?
A: While the wholesale area (also referred to as the "inner market") is moving, all the shops in the outer market remains open. Tsukiji has stayed 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 will be demolished to make way for a temporary bus terminal during the 2020 Olympics. What would be built after that is unknown, though the Gov. Koike has hinted at a possibility of moving part of the market back to Tsukiji in about five years - though the public may simply say "No" to such a cost consuming project.
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.
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, so it might be more interesting to just browse at 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.