The auctions start from 5AM, after the fish have been unloaded from the trucks and its value has been estimated, and participation is only allowed to licensed bidders, such as wholesale buyers or restaurant agents. Tourists are only allowed to presence the tuna auctions from a specifically designated viewing area, with a limit of 120 visitors per day.
To access the auction, tourists must request it at the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) located at the Kachidoki Gate in the northwest corner of the market. The Center opens at 5AM and applications are granted on a first come first serve basis, so visitors queue up form much earlier.
The wholesale area, also known as jonai-shijo or the inner market, is a large hall filled with over 900 small stalls, where wholesale dealers sell the fish acquired in the auctions to smaller dealers. Aside from the tuna auctions, this is probably the most lively, impressive and interesting part of Tsukuji, but since its very busy with trucks, forlklifts and small vehicles moving around and the floor is usually wet, visitors should take special care.
Even if the wholesale area opens at 5AM for professionals, tourists are only allowed from 9AM in order to avoid interfering during the peak business hours.
The outer market, known as jogai-shijo in Japanese, is formed by a mixture of smaller wholesale vendors and retail shops located in narrow alleys adjacent to the market, which sell fish, seafood, groceries and kitchen-related tools. Among the shops and stalls one can also find numerous restaurants specialized in fresh fish, where tourists can enjoy a taste of Tsukiji after the visit.
The Tsukiji market is located right next to the Tsukiji Shijo subway station or in a 5 minute walk from the Tsukiji subway station.