The History of Japan’s Famous Seafood Market

If you know anything about Japanese food or the seafood industry, you should know about Japan’s Tsukiji Market. Located on the shore of Tokyo, this important landmark is one of the world’s most important markets. It boasts the title of the single largest wholesale food market in the world. So much fish comes and goes through this venue, it’s hard to eat at a restaurant in Japan without consuming something that was purchased here.

The history of Tsukiji goes all the way back to 1657. It was during this year that the area underwent the Great Fire of Meireki. Much of the city of Edo, which was the capital of Japan at the time, was consumed by this fire, which killed about 100,000 people and forced many others out of their homes. The Tokugawa shogunate labored to rebuild their capital and find a new place for the people to live; to this end, they reclaimed land from the sea and called it “constructed land”, or Tsukiji. Here, the displaced people were able to live off of the ocean’s bounty and build new lives for themselves.

Over time, Tsukiji became an important nexus of commerce. It was the place where foreigners would first enter Japan for the first time. Today, it remains a thriving seafood hub, where bluefin tuna routinely shatter price records in auction.