Touring Tsukiji fish market with Shinji Sakamoto

I have been to Tsukiji many times before. Heck, I even once spent a week at a hotel located in the Tsukiji outer market. I’m very familiar with the market and love visiting it. But on this trip, because the market will soon be closing down and relocating, I decided to hire a guide to show me around.

Why? Well, the inner market is massive, with over 60,000 employees and 600+ stalls. There is a lot to see, and it can be hard to figure out the ins and outs of the place on your own, let alone try to figure out what all the seafood in front of you actually is. Since this is probably my last chance to visit the market before its November 2016 relocation, why not tour it with an expert? Someone who can provide insights that only an insider can have.

Enter Shinji Sakamoto: expert Tsukiji tour guide, former seafood buyer at the market, chef, and all around nice guy! His wife, Yukari Sakamoto, wrote the excellent book Food Sake Tokyo, which I highly recommend. Together, they run the fantastic web site, give food-centric tours of Tokyo, and have just launched a cooking school. They have appeared on some TV shows in the US and in many articles in the western press. They are wonderful ambassadors of Japanese cuisine. 

I met up with Shinji on Friday morning at 8 AM at Turret Coffee where we had a delicious cup of latte, then embarked on a fascinating, two hour long tour of the market. Shinji is very passionate about seafood and Tsukiji, and his enthusiasm is contagious. In the course of two hours, he explained many interesting tidbits about the market and helped me identify dozens of rare and exotic seafood specimens. I learned a lot and had a great time.

Tsukiji is closing in less than six months, and tourists will not be allowed to freely walk the market’s floor at the new location in Toyosu. If you’re looking to visit Tsukiji, time is running out. I highly recommend Shinji’s tour; it will give you a deep understanding of this fascinating place.   

Below you will find a few images I took during the tour. More photos and posts regarding Tsukiji will follow in the coming weeks. 

To book a Tsukiji tour with Shinji, visit this link. It is important to note that the tours are limited to two people maximum.

Tsukiji Market
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji
Chuo, Tokyo

7 thoughts on “Touring Tsukiji fish market with Shinji Sakamoto

  1. I’ve just emailed Shinji and Yukari about food tours, and of course the fish market, for an upcoming trip this fall. Would love to hear of some of your favorite places for sushi in Tokyo and elsewhere (we will spend about a month in Japan).

    San Francisco, CA

    1. Hi Bruce!

      You will greatly enjoy any food tour with Shinji and/or Yukari, they are lovely and extremely knowledgeable.

      Some of my personal favorite sushi shops in Tokyo:

      – For a classic first time introduction to Tokyo high end sushi: Kyubey.
      – For a more intimate Ginza sushi experience, with a chef who focuses on high quality seasonal items: Iwa.
      – To experience the very best tuna in a relaxed, intimate setting: Tokami.
      – For a taste of old-school, uber-traditional Edomaezushi: Bentenyama Miyako Zushi.
      – For a good, affordable sushi lunch (or late breakfast) in Tsukiji: Hidenori.

      All these restaurants have friendly chefs and staff who will gladly accept foreign customers, and they all offer a very different experience. There are so many different types of great sushi restaurants in Tokyo, and part of the fun is to try different styles.

      I hope this list will be useful, but of course keep in mind that there are hundreds of quality sushiya in Tokyo and this is just a small sampling of some of my favorites.

      Enjoy your trip!

    1. Thanks so much! We have our tour tomorrow, and will definitely try some of your suggestions. I had a wonderful dinner at Kyubey the first night I arrived in Tokyo!

      Arrigoto gazayemas!


      1. Bruce,

        Very glad to hear you enjoyed Kyubey! Enjoy your Tsukiji tour and please say hello to Shinji for me. Have fun!ii

    1. Hi Angela! Sadly, that would not be possible, unless you have access to a time machine. 🙂

      If you wanted to to book one in January of 2018, I would recommend contacting the Sakamotos by email at yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com. Cheers!

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