Tokyo: Tsukiji Jonai Shijo
Tōkyō-to Chūō Oroshiuri Shijō (東京都中央卸売市場), or the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, commonly known as Tsukiji shijō (築地市場), or the Tuskiji Market, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood, in excess of 2000 metric tons a day, and provides employment to over 60,000 registered employees.
The market consists of an “inner market” (jonai shijo) and an “outer market” (jogai shijo). The inner market is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and processing of the fish take place, and where approximately 900 licensed wholesale dealers operate from small stalls. The outer market is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops hawking everything from kitchen tools to groceries and seafood.
The first market in Tokyo was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Edo period when he invited fishermen from Tsukudajima, Osaka to Edo in order to provide fish for the castle. Fish not bought by the castle was sold at a market called uogashi (literally, "fish quay") near the Nihonbashi Bridge, which was one of many specialized wholesale markets lining the canals of Edo. In the aftermath of The Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, which devastated much of central Tokyo, including uogashi, the market was relocated to the Tsukiji district. After construction of a modern market facility in 1935, the fish market began operations under the provisions of the 1923 Central Wholesale Market Law, which the Japanese government had enacted following the "Rice Riots" (Kome Soudai) of 1918. Three major markets were established in Tsukiji, Kanda and Koto with smaller branch markets in Ebara, Toshima, and Adachi. At present, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's system of wholesale markets includes more than a dozen major and branch markets, handling seafood, produce, meat, and cut flowers.
Tsukiji Market opens at 3am every morning except Sundays with the arrival of seafood by ship, truck and plane, including the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. Auction house wholesalers, or oroshi gyousha, then estimate the value and prep the product for auction. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants, including intermediate wholesalers, or nakaoroshi gyousha, who operate the inner market stalls, and agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers. The auctions usually end around 7am and the purchased seafood is either loaded onto or on small carts and moved to the many market shops, where it is cut and prepared for retail.