Toyosu Market, Tokyo's new wholesale market for seafood and produce opened for business last Thursday, October 11, replacing Tsukiji's inner market. On Saturday at 10am, the market opened to the public, but it wasn't until today that the public could access the market from 5am and witness the early-morning auctions.
5:01am - Departing Yurakucho Station
Toyosu Market is located on one of the many man-made islands in Tokyo Bay, and the only way to access the market by public transportation is by the Yurikamome elevated train or by bus. In order to arrive in time for the auctions, I spent the previous night at a hotel near Yurakucho Station from where I took the first train of the day along the Yurakucho Subway Line to Toyosu and then transferred to the first Yurikamome train of the day to Shijo-mae Station, the station in the center of Toyosu Market.
Another good base for an early-morning visit to the market is the area around Toyosu Station where there are some hotel rooms a 20 minute walk from the market. Alternatively, the market can be reached by good walkers from the Odaiba area, but note that the first Yurikamome train from Odaiba does not reach the market until 6:16. A few years down the road, a hotel is scheduled to open adjacent to the market.
5:18am - Tuna Auctions
Toyosu Market consists of three main buildings: the building for seafood auctions ("Fish Wholesale Market"), the building for seafood wholesale shops ("Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market") and the building for produce ("Fruit and Vegetable Market"). I first headed to the famous seafood auctions which visitors can now observe from behind double-glazed windows. While the extra protection provides tourists with mild temperatures around the year, the glass unfortunately also blocks off all the market sounds and makes it a little challenging to take photos without reflections.
In addition to the observation windows, there is an open platform closer to the tuna auctions that is separated from the action by only a single piece of glass and is also exposed to the noise and temperature of the auction hall; however, market officials made the unfortunate decision to keep the open platform off-limits to tourists until January 15, 2019 when they expect the crowding to have calmed down. Speaking of crowds, the observation corridors were pleasantly uncrowded around 5:30am today, as window spaces outnumbered visitors.
5:55am - Seafood Wholesale
Next, I headed to the building where the many wholesale businesses have their shops. The wholesale market itself is not open to tourists; however, the building offers several attractions to visitors on its upper floors, including some windows with limited views into the wholesale market. There is also the Uogashi Yokocho Market, a retail market for non-perishable goods and processed foods, targeting both market workers and the general public.
Furthermore, the building offers a rooftop garden that allows visitors to enjoy views of the Tokyo Bay skyline. Access to the garden is currently limited to one staircase and an elevator still wrapped in protective covering.
6:45am - Breakfast
Restaurants are clustered in three areas around the market. Quite many of them were still closed before 7am, but the open sushi restaurants attracted considerable crowds. The waiting time for Sushi Dai, one of the most popular restaurants that moved here from Tsukiji's inner market, was apparently 3-4 hours. I instead enjoyed a seafood donburi and simmered alfonsino (kinmedai) at Ikinoya without waiting.
7:30am - Fruits and Vegetables
At last, I visited the produce building which houses both the auction area for vegetables and fruits as well as the wholesale shops. Here too, visitors are able to observe the action from windows on the upper floor. Not surprisingly, the vegetables attracted considerably fewer tourists than the tuna.