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From the Tsukiji article at Japan-guide.com, I understand that they start taking names for auction visitors at 5am, and let the first 60 in at 5:25, and the next 60 in at 5:50.

Because the trains only start around 5:00, the earliest I can get to Tsukiji is 5:25. Should I still expect to get into the auction, or might I be too late to be one of the first 120 people on the list? I will be going there on a normal weekday (April 8-11).

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Aside from a few hungry all-night clubbers and the odd loaded sushi fanatic rolling up in a cab, everybody else will be in the same boat as you, so you're quite likely to get in if you arrive on the first train.

Also, while for some reason the auctions get all the press, the main event at Tsukiji is actually eating the world's best sushi. I'm pretty sure you won't regret if you skip the auction entirely and go eat at Sushidai or Yamato Sushi instead. Turning up early for these is a good idea as well, they're tiny and the queue to get in can be 1 hr plus if you get there late.

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We did end up missing the auction; but it turned out for the best. After the auction, the market closes to tourists until 9:00 am, so business can get done. If we had gone to the auction, we would've been kicked out afterwards, and spent hours before being able to get back in to see the market proper. Instead, we got there around 7:30, went for a leisurely sushi breakfast, then visited the market when it re-opened to tourists at 9:00 am. I recommend this approach, since the market is very colorful and interesting. –  SuperElectric May 31 '12 at 13:34

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