Greetings from the Pocket Concierge Editorial!
Readers may already know, but after much debate, the Tsukiji Fish Market is finally on the move; with a final auction scheduled for Saturday, October 6th, all operations will be transferred to the new Toyosu facility beginning Thursday, November 11th.
So… the big question: will it become impossible to enjoy the world’s best seafood once the market is gone?
In this article, we seek to clarify the mysteries of Tsukiji and Toyosu markets going forward, including what will happen, where the new market is, and of course, where to eat!
Tsukiji is Moving!… But Why?
Tokyo’s central fish market was originally located in current day Nihonbashi district; from the 17th through the early 19th century, today’s luxury shopping outlets were back-to-back with bustling seafood merchants. Unfortunately, the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and subsequent fires wiped the wooden markets out, and the central market was relocated as part of a major urban redevelopment project. Thus, in 1935, the Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market was born in its current shape.
Of course, compared to the centuries spent at the previous Nihonbashi, the 80-plus years of Tsukiji may not seem long, but there is no doubting that is well beyond its years. As chef Rene Redzepi of the world-renowned Noma likens in the 2016 movie Tsukiji Wonderland; “the Tsukiji Fish Market is ancient, a window into ancient Egypt.”
In fact, Tokyo has been preparing to move the Tsukiji market for years; the Toyosu relocation project dates back to 2001, with backers citing deterioration of buildings due to age as well as excessive overpopulation of premises. It had already been obvious almost 2 decades ago that ‘ancient Egypt’ was severely unfit to serve the logistical needs of the 21st century.
As for what happens next, the formerly-fish market lands of Tsukiji is a clean slate as for development plans; while there are numerous rumors flying around, from a temporary parking space for the 2020 Olympics to a casino complex, nothing is set in stone. In any sense, it will be intriguing to see what the world’s ‘Tsukiji, the fish market’ transforms into in the coming years.
Who’s Actually Moving; The Inner Market? The Outer? Both?
Worries begone! Although the secretive and bustling inner market will move out to Toyosu along with its seafood merchants and client chefs, the bulk of Tsukiji’s publicly accessible outer market is remaining right where it is. Hence, shoppers and sightseers alike will continually be able to enjoy ‘Tsukiji, the seafood haven’!
Of course, all of the delicious sushi restaurants and popular sweet egg roll vendors and more will remain; for those reliant on the market’s wealth of seafood ingredients for the new year’s menu too, all of your favorite public-friendly shops will stay as is, in the familiar streets of Tsukiji.
Although when seen on the map, the disappearing act of the inner market seems like a major takeaway, this is purely due to its physical size. In contrast, think about the prevalence of visitor-friendly shops, and the impression turns inside out; most all of the crowd’s favorite Tsukiji destinations lie in the small corner that is the outer market, home to a whopping 400-plus shops! Count purely the sushi restaurants, and you have 31, enough to eat a different fare every day for any month. So for those gourmands out there, rest easy; ‘Tsukiji, the seafood haven’ is not going anywhere anytime soon, and it could rather be said that the market’s timeless allure as a tourist destination may serve to further enliven the area.
Source: Tsukiji Outer Market Website
What are the Effects on Restaurants Neighboring Tsukiji?
We happy consumers may be thinking by now “so there’s nothing to fret about, great!”; but of course, chefs dependent on Tsukiji for their seafood may be feeling differently. Especially given the proximity of Ginza, the haute hub a brisk walk away and home to any number of top-notch cooks, the move to Toyosu may seem a major change. For those particular to their procurements, those that would beyond any difficulty choose to directly see and feel and choose their own ingredients with merchants they know and trust, a newfound inability to do so will be accustomed by reluctance and distrust; regardless of the advances in distribution or the relentless realization of convenience, the professionalism of chefs is a separate matter altogether.
To note, the walk from Ginza to the new Toyosu grounds is an hour strong; although most chefs arrive to procure riding bicycles or motorcycles, the doubling of travel times could weigh heavy. Going forwards, the channels from market to restaurant may become a major factor regarding procurements; given the additional length, there will be increased possibilities of traffic jams, taxi-usage, and more, for those curious few that may want to keep an eye on things.
Toyosu, A Mere 3.4km Away! A 40-Minute Walk, Or 10-Minute Taxi Ride
Readers may be surprised at the new market’s length from Ginza, a hefty hour away. But of course, this is when measured on foot; in distance, it is an only modest 3.4km, or 40 minutes walking, less than 30 minutes via public transit, and just 10 minutes if you cab it! For the curious, it certainly is not a difficult trek; the Toyosu Market is right by the ‘Shijomae’ station on the Yurikamome line, just 8 minutes via transfer from the Toyosu subway station. For visitors from afar coming through Tokyo station, there is even more convenience in a bus that takes you directly; by far the cheapest option, the new market will be just a 30-minute bus ride away. Make sure you time things right however; both buses and trains operate scarcely in the mornings, and there is much to hope for changes in the future.
Tsukiji’s World-Renowned Seafood is There to Stay!
All in all, although it may be stating the obvious by now; the podium of Tsukiji as Tokyo’s #1 go-to location for delicious seafood stands strong and resilient now and beyond. It is to be said that the new Toyosu Market too will develop its own outer market, much like Tsukiji did itself. There is to tell the truth much hype around an exhaustive commercial complex being planned, involving in addition to restaurants and shops, hotel and hot springs facilities as well; but be assured, the spas and resorts won’t be arriving anytime soon! While much-awaited for sure, these projects are not slated to start until the Olympics end, in October 2020; their completion, even later, is a projected December 2022. Hence, at least for a while more, Tsukiji will reign king in the realm of seafood hotspots of the world’s largest metropolis.
Perhaps, some curious guests may seek to preview the new seafood market; unfortunately however, as stated earlier, Toyosu has almost nothing in the shape of tourist facilities, restaurants and merchants alike. So while it may feel slightly incomplete, do enjoy the finest fish in the world in delicate form, found only in Tsukiji’s busy streets; the taste of centuries of seafood trading history, Edo-mae culture, and Tokyo-townsman chic. After all, the Toyosu market, being a merchant only affair, starts early, and ends early too; without the commercial venues adjacent, the fish market will be a sleepy hollow once the early morning auctions are finished, a destination only fit to make visitors perhaps forlorn. If so, if truly hoping for a feel of the excitement of day-to-day business and vibrant seafood-market culture, take a leap of faith with old faithful, and visit Tsukiji’s outer markets for a fun-filled epicurean venture!
Source (Japanese): http://www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/toyosu/senkyaku_banrai/
Tsukiji May Be Moving, But the Flavors of Tsukiji Live On! 2 Spectacular Outer Market Sushi Joints
A tiny but proud 8-seat authentic ‘Edo-mae’ style sushi restaurant, Satake serves the finest of the day’s catch straight from Tsukiji in a contrarian Tuna-first chef’s course. Firmly traditionalist yet with streaks of genius originality, chef Satake’s sushi pieces are pure realization of his ‘together, taste, in the moment’ doctrine.
A native of northern Hokkaido, chef Aoyama, a longtime veteran of the Sapporo and Ginza sushi scenes, brings a unique and meticulously exquisite brand of sushi to life at Keita. Focusing on the flavors of his selected seafoods, a perfected craft brings the season’s tastes and textures to spectacular sensuality at Keita‘s relaxed and visitor friendly counter.
【About the Author】
Ms. Chikako Tsuruta
Born 1985, raised in Iwate prefecture, currently resides in Tokyo’s east-side workers’ district. The self-proclaimed original ‘Professor of ‘O-Hiya’’, regularly spends time contemplating on the cold glasses of water served at cafés and restaurants. While unaware of it herself, a very…unique…er…disappointing lady.