Lifestyle | Kateigaho International Japan Edition

Tokyo revealed: To market, to market!

Tokyo boasts an abundance of markets selling regional specialties from all over Japan. Topping the list is the brand-new Toyosu Market, which opened autumn 2018. As fascinating as the diversity of merchandise on offer at these markets — from fresh fish and vegetables to antiques — are the vendors themselves, who have plenty to say about their wares. Interacting with them is one of the delights of a market visit

Toyosu Market

Toyosu Market is the largest and most important of the 11 facilities that constitute the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market. When the legendary Tsukiji Market grew antiquated and overcrowded, it relocated to Toyosu in October 2018. Consisting of four buildings that respectively house management offices, the Fish Wholesale Market, the Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market, and a fruit and vegetable market, the complex occupies 40.7 hectares, about 1.7 times the area of the Tsukiji site.

An accompaniment with bite: Yaokin is renowned as a purveyor of wasabi to top sushi restaurants. Says its president, Kazutaka Saito, 'The best wasabi has a firm, thick texture when grated and a delicious, slightly sweet flavor.'
An accompaniment with bite: Yaokin is renowned as a purveyor of wasabi to top sushi restaurants. Says its president, Kazutaka Saito, ‘The best wasabi has a firm, thick texture when grated and a delicious, slightly sweet flavor.’

If you go, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and get there in time for the tuna auction, an experience that’s not to be missed. At the first auction of 2019, a bluefin tuna made headlines when it sold for a record ¥333.6 million (about $3 million). The observation deck offers close-up views of the spectacle, with ringing bells and the cries of the auctioneers adding to the excitement. A place on the deck must be reserved in advance.

The room where it happens: Egged on by the auctioneers, bidders stand amid rows of choice tuna, using hand gestures to signal their prices. The fierce bidding wars at Toyosu's Fish Wholesale Market begin every morning at 5:30. This photo was taken by special permission from a spot off-limits to the public.
The room where it happens: Egged on by the auctioneers, bidders stand amid rows of choice tuna, using hand gestures to signal their prices. The fierce bidding wars at Toyosu’s Fish Wholesale Market begin every morning at 5:30. This photo was taken by special permission from a spot off-limits to the public.

Though not quite as dramatic as the deck view, you can also watch the action without a reservation from the observation gallery on the second floor, above the deck. After the auction you’ll want to explore the Uogashi Yokocho shopping area located in the Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market building. Some 70 shops sell tools and foodstuffs mainly intended for market workers and professional chefs. Located atop the same building is the Green Roof Plaza Garden with its pleasant expanse of lawn and stunning vistas of bayside Tokyo that include the Harumi Canal, Rainbow Bridge and the Athletes’ Village, now under construction at a feverish pace for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The restaurants, offering sushi and other delicacies, are likely to be packed — in order to avoid a long wait, visit on a weekday.

Fermented flavor: Kuranoya offers 12 kinds of miso from throughout Japan, each with its own distinct character. The miso can be purchased in 100-gram units.
Fermented flavor: Kuranoya offers 12 kinds of miso from throughout Japan, each with its own distinct character. The miso can be purchased in 100-gram units.

Toyosu Market (Fish Wholesale Market): Toyosu 6-6-2, Koto-ku 135-0061; visitors can tour designated facilities from 5 a.m.-5 p.m.; restaurants and shops start closing around noon; closed Sun., holidays and designated days; www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/toyosu. The tuna auction can be observed from 5:45-6:15 a.m. Visitors must enter a lottery ahead of time to secure a spot on the observation deck — visit pia.jp/piajp/v/toyosushijou19 for more information.

Morning tipple: Amazake ('sweet sake') sold at Toyosu Sennen-Koujiya. Made exclusively from kōji starter and rice by traditional methods developed at the famed Hakkaisan brewery in Niigata Prefecture, this is a nutritious nonalcoholic drink with a crisp sweetness. (Kōji is cultured grain inoculated with spores of the Aspergillus oryzae mold.)
Morning tipple: Amazake (‘sweet sake’) sold at Toyosu Sennen-Koujiya. Made exclusively from kōji starter and rice by traditional methods developed at the famed Hakkaisan brewery in Niigata Prefecture, this is a nutritious nonalcoholic drink with a crisp sweetness. (Kōji is cultured grain inoculated with spores of the Aspergillus oryzae mold.)

Uogashi Yokocho: Toyosu Market, Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market 4F, Toyosu 6-5-1, Koto-ku 135-0061; open early morning to noon, hours vary by shop

Savoring the best of Japanese cuisine: The cover of Kateigaho International Japan Edition Spring / Summer Vol. 45: 'Delectable Japan.' On sale March 2, 2020 (¥1,200 before tax).
Savoring the best of Japanese cuisine: The cover of Kateigaho International Japan Edition Spring / Summer Vol. 45: ‘Delectable Japan.’ On sale March 2, 2020 (¥1,200 before tax).

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