The Early Bird Does Not Get the Worm 3


So I was up bright and early for the Tsukiji Fish Market, I was out the door by 3:30 AM and walked ~ 1.5 miles from my hotel to the market. I took my sweet time thinking I would have no problem getting a slot to see the Tuna Auction. The Auction is limited to 120 people a day and they have two time slots. 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM. I figured getting there for 4:30 would at least secure me with the later slot. It took me a while to find my way to the visitor center and once I got there, a uniformed gentleman was telling a woman that they were not admitting any more people for the Tuna Auction, only to miss admission by a few minutes.

Tsukiji Vendors Set Up at Dawn

Tsukiji Vendors Set Up at Dawn

Pretty bummed that I missed the auction I meandered around the market in the darkness and hum of transportation vehicles, watching vendors set up their stalls peering in to see what they had to offer, finally stopping at a sushi restaurant where i grabbed a seat at the counter. I pointed to 4 different pieces of tuna on the menu. (1 red meat tuna, 1 fatty meat tuna, 1 lightly grilled tuna, and 1 fattiest meat tuna), I threw in a piece of Salmon and a piece of Octopus for good measure.

Tsukiji Sushi Menu

Tuna, Tuna and more Tuna.

The sushi was by far the best I’ve had. Typically I drown my sushi in soy sauce, this time I made scant use of the soy sauce to savor the taste of the rice and the fish. The chef placed a little bit of wasabi between the fish and the rice to add some balance. The tuna was like butter on top of a warm rice pillow. If that was my daily breakfast I could die a happy man.

Content that I had gotten my sushi fill before 6 AM, I continued to walk through the market and watch more of the stalls open and come to life as the sun began to rise. I took in an egg snack for 100 yen that was pretty good, and then went on to devour a delicious bowl of Pork Ramen an hour or so later.

Pork Ramen

Delicious Pork Ramen

I then meandered up through Ginza and took a break from the cold and to give my feet a rest at what happens to be the first Starbucks of Japan, opened in 1996.

Japan’s First Starbucks

Thus far I’ve noticed this about Tokyo: They love coffee, vending machines, and convenience stores. You can’t go more than 2 blocks without seeing a vending machine of some sort. Cigarettes, drinks (which contain sodas, water, coffee drinks, and who knows what) and lottery tickets seem to be the most prevalent.

After re-charging my batteries i continued onward and walked through Ginza hoping to perhaps secure some Yakitori from the joints underneath the railroad tracks, but many of the restaurants were not yet open around 11 AM.

I continued my journey up to Roppongi and then up to Tokyo Midtown and didn’t find much but shopping malls. It had started to rain upon arriving in Roppongi, so I spent most of my time walking through the malls and taking a much needed recharge, on my electronics and my body. I ended up going back to my hotel to take a nap and found myself awake at 1 am. I’ll have to give Tokyo’s nightlife a run for it’s money tonight. 


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3 thoughts on “The Early Bird Does Not Get the Worm

  • lmjapan

    I thought the same way as you when I went to the tuna auction last year. We arrived at Tsukiji Market at around 4:40 AM and while we were able to secure a spot, we learned later just how lucky we had been. I think we just went on one of those weird days where not that many people showed up. I enjoyed reading your post, the picture of your ramen looks so good!

    • jbeinstein

      That was probably the best Ramen I’ve had on the trip, and it was my first 🙂 Lucky you that you got a spot at Tsukiji! O well, it was still pretty awesome to check out the market in action as the sun came up.