Getting up before sunrise requires a very good reason, and the legendary tuna auction at Tokyo’s fish market is just that. (In case you missed the memo, the fish market relocated from Tsukiji to Toyosu in October last year.) It is one of the top things to do in Tokyo, and recently in the New Year, a massive tuna was sold at Toyosu Market for a record ¥333.6 million.
To see the tuna auction, there are two options: one is the visitors’ gallery behind glass windows on the second floor. You don’t need a ticket for this – you can come and go as you like but just make sure you’re here before 6.30am if you want to see the tuna.
For those wanting a more intimate viewing of the action, the elevated Tuna Auction Observation Deck is now open. Here you’ll feel like you’re almost part of the action: watch the bidders’ hand signals and expressions, see the rows of frosted tuna, and even smell the fish through the partly open space. The auction goes for a brief 30 minutes – from 5.45am to 6.15am – so you’ll need to be punctual. Once it’s over, head to the multitude of excellent sushi restaurants for breakfast – you’re bound to beat the crowds at that time of day.
You can enter the viewing platform through a book-ahead lottery system, done via a form (Japanese only) on the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market website, or by phone reservation (05 7002 9965). The application period opens for a week the month before, so keep an eye on the website for details. Up to 120 people are allowed each day, and bookings can be made for groups of up to five.