A food paradise, the area around Tokyo's Tsukiji seafood market is a must-see for visitors. On Tokyo Bay and walkable from Ginza, the spirited, slightly chaotic inner market draws everyone from the capital's top sushi chefs to home cooks to peruse the day's catch. Although there are plans to move to a new site at nearby Toyosu, the original market, which opened here combining the fish market at Nihombashi and the farmers market at Kyobashi in 1935, is still going strong. The early morning tuna auction is a big draw, but don't worry if you miss it; you can feast on the freshest sushi for breakfast at the surrounding restaurants or pick up some unique souvenirs, from seaweed to sushi knives and handmade ceramics at the outer market.
The area can be easily accessed from Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Tsukishijo Station on the Toei Oedo Line. Alternatively, from Higashi-ginza Station on the HIbiya and Asakusa Lines. The market is a ten minute walk from Ginza and Shiodome.
From Haneda Airport: 35 minutes on the Limousine Bus to Ginza, followed by a ten minute walk or 45 minutes by train.
From Narita Airport: Two hours on the Limousine Bus to Ginza, followed by a ten minute walk or 90 minutes by train.
From Shinjuku: 21 minutes on the Toei Oedo Line to Tsukijishijo Station.
From Tokyo: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Yurakucho and transfer to the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Tsukiji Station. Travel time: around 22 minutes.
The fish markets open around 3:30 a.m. when trawlers unload their catches from all over Japan. Visitors can watch the famous tuna auctions starting around 5 a.m. for free, but numbers are strictly limited to two groups of 60 people. It's best to arrive around 3 a.m. to guarantee your spot. After such an early start, the ideal breakfast is Tokyo's freshest sushi, but if you're not a fish fan, there are plenty of cafes offering hearty breakfasts in the surrounding streets.
Near the lively market streets, find serenity in sprawling parklands and an unusual temple. Hama-rikyu Gardens is perfect for quiet strolling, rich with wildlife, seasonal flowers, tidal ponds and an elegant tea house. You can also take a ferry to Asakusa or Odaiba from the landing. For a taste of India in Tokyo, visit Tsukiji Hongwanji. This unusual Buddhist temple was built in the 1930s in a fusion of Hindu and classical Greek styles. Inside, the gilded interior features art deco lighting and a German pipe organ.
There's more to the area than seafood; the outer market streets are dotted with nostalgic cafes that have been serving strong brews and thick toasted sandwiches to the market's workers for generations. Just across Kachidoki Bridge on the Sumida River, the island of Tsukishima is a charming older neighborhood dedicated to Tokyo's soul food, monjayaki. Along Nishinaka Street, there are dozens of restaurants offering up this slightly runny but delicious savory pancake that you cook yourself.