Toyosu Market Opens to the Public

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.

Empty Yurakucho Station at 4:57
Empty first train on the Yurakucho Subway Line
Arrival at Shijo-mae Station at 5:18

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.

All visitors are marked as such
Moderate crowds observe the tuna auctions through the windows
Tuna auctions
Tuna auctions
Tuna auctions
Tuna auctions
The open observation platform that won't open until January 15, 2019 (photo taken at an earlier date)
In the adjacent hall, seafood other than tuna is auctioned
The hall for seafood other than tuna

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.

The rooftop garden is quite extensive
View from the rooftop just after sunrise; the Olympic Village under construction on the right
The rooftop garden features lawns
Some parts of the market were not quite ready yet, including the elevator to the rooftop garden
Peeking into the off-limit seafood wholesale market through an observation window
On sale at the wholesale market
Unlike the wholesale market, the Uogashi Yokocho Market is open to the public
Various goods are available at the Uogashi Yokocho Market
Various goods are available at the Uogashi Yokocho Market
Various goods are available at the Uogashi Yokocho Market
Various goods are available at the Uogashi Yokocho Market

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.

Seafood donburi featuring Japanese amberjack (buri)
Simmered alfonsino (kinmedai)
Sushi Dai was the most popular restaurant this morning
Its rival Daiwa Sushi had a much shorter line, probably due to its somewhat hidden location

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.

The vegetables attracted considerably fewer tourists than the seafood
Action in the wholesale market
One of the shops in the wholesale market
The huge auction hall
Leek from Aomori Prefecture
Yuzu from Kochi Prefecture
Shiitake Mushrooms
Lots of boxes