The Tsukiji Market (? Tsukiji shij?), supervised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market ( of the T?ky?-to Ch Oroshiuri Shij?)Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, was the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It was also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market opened on 11 February 1935 as a replacement for an older market that was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kant? earthquake. It closed on 6 October 2018 and moved to the new Toyosu Market, 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) away.
The market was located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo between the Sumida River and the upmarket Ginza shopping district. When the inner wholesale market was operational, it offered only restricted access to visitors. After the inner wholesale market closed, the outer retail market, restaurants, and associated restaurant supply stores remain operational and the area is still a major tourist attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors.
The market is located near the Tsukijishij? Station on the Toei ?edo Line and Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The inner market (j?nai-shij?) was the licensed wholesale market, where approximately 900 licensed wholesale dealers operate small stalls and where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place. The outer market (j?gai-shij?) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. Most of the shops in the outer market closed by the early afternoon. In the inner market visitors were only allowed in by 10.00 am (11.00 pm by the time the market was moved), by which time the activity in the market had reduced significantly or almost ceased. A small number of visitors however were allowed into the inner market in the early morning to see the tuna auction.
The land on which the fish market sat was created during the Edo period by the Tokugawa shogunate after the Great fire of Meireki of 1657. It was created through land reclamation on the Tokyo Bay, and the area was therefore named Tsukiji (), meaning "constructed land" or "reclaimed land". The fish market however was not sited here until the 20th century.
The first fish market in Tokyo was originally located in the Nihonbashi district, next to the Nihonbashi bridge that gave the area its name. The area was one of the earliest places to be settled when Edo (as Tokyo was known until the 1870s) was made the capital by Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the market provided food for the Edo castle built on a nearby hill. Tokugawa Ieyasu took a number of fishermen from Tsukuda, Osaka to Edo to provide fish for the castle in 1590. Fish not bought by the castle was then sold near the Nihonbashi bridge, at a market called uogashi (literally, "fish quay").
In August 1918, following the so-called Rice Riots (Kome S?d?), which broke out in over 100 cities and towns in protest against food shortages and the speculative practices of wholesalers, the Japanese government was forced to create new institutions for the distribution of foodstuffs, especially in urban areas. A Central Wholesale Market Law was established in March 1923.
The Great Kant? earthquake on 1 September 1923 devastated much of central Tokyo, including the Nihonbashi fish market. The Tokyo government, which already had plans to relocate the market due to its unsanitary conditions considered unsuitable for an area that had developed into a business center, then took the opportunity to move the market to the Tsukiji district.
Following the 1923 Great Kant? earthquake architects and engineers from the Architectural Section of Tokyo Municipal Government were sent to Europe and America to do research for the new market. However, because of the sheer size of the market and the number of items traded they were forced to come up with their own unique design. The quarter circular shape allowed easier access and handling for freight trains and the steel structure above allowed a wide, continuous space free from columns and subdivisions. The relocation of the market would be one of the biggest reconstruction projects in Tokyo after the earthquake, taking over six years involving 419,500 workers.
Tsukiji was officially opened on February 11, 1935.
After the modern market facility was completed in 1935, the fish market in Tsukiji began operations under the provisions of the 1923 Central Wholesale Market Law, along with two other major markets in Kanda and Koto. Smaller branch markets were established in Ebara, Toshima, and Adachi, and elsewhere. Tsukiji was part Tokyo Metropolitan Government's system of wholesale markets that included more than a dozen major and branch markets, handling seafood, produce, meat, and cut flowers.
The Tsukiji fish market occupies valuable real estate close to the center of the city. Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara repeatedly called for moving the market to Toyosu, Koto. The long-anticipated move to the new Toyosu Market (?) was scheduled to take place in November 2016, in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but on August 31, 2016, the move was postponed. There had been concerns that new location was heavily polluted and needed to be cleaned up. There are plans to retain a retail market, roughly a quarter of the current operation, in Tsukiji. The remaining area of the market will be redeveloped.
After the new site had been declared safe following a cleanup operation, the opening date of the new market was set for 11 October 2018. Tsukiji market closed on 6 October 2018, with the businesses of the inner market relocated to the new Toyosu Market between 6 and 11 October. Even though Tsukiji inner market has moved to Toyosu, the outer market remains, selling food and other goods.  The former market will be used temporarily for as a hub for transport vehicles during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after which it will developed into a complex with a convention center, hotels, and other facilities by the 2040s.
The market handled more than 480 different kinds of seafood as well as 270 types of other produce, ranging from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species. Overall, more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood are handled every year at the three seafood markets in Tokyo, with a total value in excess of 600 billion yen (approximately 5.4 billion US dollars on August 28, 2018). At Tsukiji, around 1,628 tons of seafood worth 1.6 billion yen ($14 million) may be sold on a typical day. There were around 900 licensed dealers at the market, and the number of registered employees varied from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.
The market opened most mornings (except Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays) at 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products by ship, truck and plane from all over the world. Particularly impressive was the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gy?sha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspected the fish to discern which they would like to bid for and at what price.
The auctions started around 5:20 a.m. Bids can only be made by licensed participants. These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gy?sha) who operated stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who were agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.
The auctions usually ended around 10:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish was either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation was elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish were often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-h?ch?, maguro-b?ch?, or hanch?-h?ch?.
A tray of six Takifugu rubripes on ice for sale at Tsukiji
The market was the busiest between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m., and the activity declined significantly afterward. Many shops started to close around 11:00 a.m., and the market closed for cleaning around 1:00 p.m. Tourists visited the market daily between 5 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. and watched the proceedings from a designated area, except during periods when it was closed to the public.
Because of an increase in sightseers and the associated problems they cause, the market banned all tourists from the tuna auctions on several occasions, including from 15 December 2008 through 17 January 2009, 10 December 2009 through 23 January 2010, and 8 April 2010 through 10 May 2010. After the latest ban that ended in May 2010, the tuna auctions were re-opened to the public with a maximum limit of 120 visitors per day on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitor entry into the interior wholesale markets is prohibited until after 11 AM.. Due to the March 2011 earthquakes all tourists were banned from viewing the tuna auctions till 26 July 2011, from which date it was reopened.
Inspectors from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government supervised activities in the market to enforce the Food Hygiene Law.