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Visiting Tsukiji Outer Market: A Look into its Evolution

"Markets of the past"

There are few ways to catch the people, vendors and produce at their most local and authentic; one might suggest an intimate cooking experience, a behind-the-scenes day at a respected restaurant or a guided tour through street-food bound neighbourhood alleys; but none would be as memorable as a guided early morning visit to the local market with your on-the-ground Conte guide. 

A zoomed in dimly lit photo of a man finely cutting salmon with a sashimi knife
A cut off photo of a Japanese street stall with lamps and bags hanging from the ceiling and boxes on the floor

For example, as the sun rises in central Tokyo, Conte recommends an Visiting Tsukiji Outer Market, or ‘Tsukiji’ market for short. Famous for its original identity as a wholesale fish market, this general food market is laden with culinary delights. Originally started in Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1868), the then Nihonbashi-located outdoor market was home to suppliers from as far as Osaka to manage the supply of fresh produce to the powerful Shogunate.

Conte recommends indulging in fresh seafood on offer such as Hokkaido oysters and scallops while visiting the market. Often served grilled, steamed or over open-fire, the seafood here is some of the freshest locally and that can certainly be verified through the quality of the sushi championed by the inter-generational family stalls operating here. For a more indulgent treat try the flame-broiled fatty tuna served pintxos style, or dive into the vast variations of the popular breakfast dish Kaisendon (seafood rice bowl), including the specialist uogashidon’ (fish market rice bowl) served singularly at the market stalls of Tsukiji. 

Contrary to popular belief, fish is not the only delicacy on offer at this esteemed market. For a flavoursome and experimental meat dish, Conte invites you to try the delicacy of 'horumon-ni' - beef intestines stewed in a miso or soy broth; warming and culturally beloved - this is a staple and you’ll have to arrive early to avoid the queues. Similarly, mouth-watering Wagyu beef, varying in quality and size is often served on sticks as a street-food luxury and can be accompanied by 'tamagoyaki', the Japanese rolled omelette typically found in Bento boxes across the country. 

Visiting Tsukiji Outer Market: A Look into its Evolution

Whether you are indulging in local produce in its freshest form or here to explore the warming ‘nakama’ relationships between vendors formed out of the age-old merchant guilds and associations , there is an entire ecosystem thriving in the stalls of familiar street-food and local craftsmanship waiting to be discovered.


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