Tokyo - Tsukiji
While the name literally means "Center", this district loses out in prestige (if only very slightly) to neighboring Chiyoda, home to the Emperor among others. Still, the Ginza is generally reckoned to have the most expensive real estate on earth and there are plenty of bright lights... and a famous fish market too.
The western edge of Chuo starts on the Yaesu (east) side of Tokyo Station, and if your legs are feeling up to it, you can get pretty much anywhere worth seeing within a 45-minute walk. Otherwise, take the subway.
- Tsukiji Fish Market(築地市場Tsukiji-ichiba), Central Tokyo(Tsukijishijo Station, Toei Oedo Subway), . 5AM-10AM closed Sundays and second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. More properly the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, the famous market is worth a visit for 1600 stalls of bizarre sea creatures, including large blue fin tuna, live shell fish, deep sea crabs, eels and salmon. As you might expect everything is covered in slippery sea water, so choose footwear accordingly. Also, watch out for water (often with blood) splashing from containers being moved. It is very busy but the locals don't mind visitors and photographs. The market is open every day except Sundays and Holidays. Get here as early as possible, which means a taxi if you want to see the auctions, but much cheaper and quite acceptable alternative is to take the first subway in the morning around 6, perhaps after a night of partying in Roppongi or Shinjuku. Hibiya line Tsukiji station is a short walk away, while O-Edo line Tsukiji-shijo drops you right next to the action. Note: All auctions, including but not limited to the famous early morning tuna auctions, are now off limits to tourists. The rest of the market remains fully open.free.
- Tsukiji Hongwanji, 3-15-1 Tsukiji, 03-3541-1131 . A Jodo Shinshu temple just a few blocks away from the fish market, worth seeing because of its unique, South Asian-inspired architecture. Buddhist services are held in English on Saturday evenings. Accessible from Tsukiji (Hibiya Line) or Tsukiji-shijo (Oedo Line).
- Tokyo Stock Exchange, 2-1 Nihombashi Kabutocho, 03-3665-1881 . Tokyo's stock exchange, while one of the largest in the world by capitalization, is now entirely automated, and the tiny building it resides in is mostly for show, featuring a small museum, exhibition hall, and broadcasting facilities. Accessible from Kayabacho (Tozai and Hibiya Lines) or Nihombashi (Asakusa Line).
- Hama-rikyu Gardens (浜離宮恩賜庭園) 1-1 Hama-rikyu Teien (7 min walk from Shinodome, Tsukiji-shijo or Yurikamome subway stations, 10 min. walk from JR Shimbashi station), 03-3541-0200. Originally built by 17th-century shoguns for their private enjoyment, Hama-rikyu is now a public walking garden with an all-season range of flowers and flowering trees. The highlight is the tea house, picturesquely set on a small island in the middle of a pond, where green tea and sweets are available for ¥500. The garden is located next to Tsukiji fish market. A boat which runs up the Sumida River to Asakusa departs from inside the park. Park admission ¥300 (age 65+ ¥150, primary school children free).
- Tokyo Kūa, right under the Yaesu entrance to Tokyo Station, . The self-proclaimed first sauna and spa in Japan, still going strong. Open for men only, 6 AM to 11 PM daily, entry ¥2300.
- The Ginza, covered in its own article, is one of the world's most famous (and most expensive) shopping districts.
- Sushizanmia, . Proclaimed as "The King Of Tuna." There are a couple locations in the fish market. The prices are per roll and range from 100 yen to 500 yen. They have an excellent English menu.
Past Tsukiji on Harumi-dori is the island neighborhood of Tsukishima (月島, "Moon Island"), known mainly for its many restaurants serving monja-yaki. It's like okonomiyaki, but has some peculiarities. Just remember the essentials: you form the shredded cabbage into a ring on the griddle and pour the leftover liquid in the middle, and you use the tiny spatulas to press the mixed batter onto the griddle until it sizzles, then eat it right off the spatula. Sounds strange, doesn't it? It is. The northern section of Tsukishima is named Tsukuda-jima, and is the origin of tsukudani, a sticky soy and sugar sauce that's commonly used to flavor vegetables, seaweed, and even grasshoppers.
Try a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji. The fish is guaranteed to be as fresh as possible and the prices, while not cheap, are surprisingly affordable given the extraordinary quality - figure on ¥2000-3000 for an omakase set of whatever is good today. For comparison, a meal of a similar caliber in the Ginza would easily cost over ¥10000.
Tsukiji's restaurants can be found in alleys of Building 6, reached by walking in from the main entrance and turning right at the central square. The following two sushi joints are very popular, so be prepared to queue on weekends (an hour's wait is typical) unless you get there very early. Both make a point of serving only fresh fish that has never been frozen.
- Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司). . The larger of the two, so the queue moves faster. The standard omakase course is ¥3500 (7 pieces & 1 roll), and a cheaper ¥2100 version also available. Famous for their meltingly soft anago (conger eel).
- Sushidai (寿司大). . ¥3500 for today's set (10 pieces & 1 roll).
The Ginza has a large array of drinking establishments, most of which are also extremely expensive. This is where the Japanese horror stories of $100 for a beer originate from. Choose carefully, or head elsewhere.
- Sumisho Hotel (9-14 Nihonbashi Kobunacho; tel. 03-3661-4603, fax 03-3661-4639; ). Singles start at ¥7,000- doubles at ¥11,000 per night. A ryokan style hotel in walking distance from Tokyo Station, japanese style rooms and big traditional bath available.
- Tokyu Stay Nihombashi (4-7-9 Nihombashi-Honcho; tel. 03-3231-0109, fax 03-3231-0112; ). Singles start at ¥9,450- doubles at ¥17,850 per night. Slight discounts are offered for extended stays. Part of the Tokyu Stay chain, these hotels are popular with business travelers. The small kitchenettes, washer/dryers, and free LAN access in all rooms makes these a good value.
- Tokyu Stay Higashi Ginza, Tsukiji, . Part of the Tokyu Stay chain. Free internet access, microwave, washer-dryer, and kitchenette in each room. Good staff, views of nearby temple. Located very close to Tsukiji fish market, avoiding an early morning taxi ride. Singles from ¥9,400, twins from ¥14,700 per night, breakfast included. Discounts for extended stays.
- Royal Park Hotel, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Kakigara-cho, tel. 3667-1111, . Adjacent to Tokyo City Air Terminal (TCAT) via skybridge. Suitengumae Subway Station is underneath the hotel.
This page was last edited at 22:01, on 16 December 2008 by Ryan Holliday. Based on work by Jani Patokallio, Andreas Bjärlestam, Brian Kurkoski, Evan Prodromou and Joichi Koizumi, Wikitravel user(s) Trew, The Yeti, Bobo12345, Episteme and Mnd, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.