Idiotic British tourists acting like jerks in Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market

Here's video of drunken idiot British tourists disgracing themselves in Tokyo's legendary Tsukiji Fish Market -- licking and fondling fish, joyriding in the forklifts, and so on. Tsukiji is one of the most interesting places I've ever visited, and these dorks are behaving in a way that's dangerous, disrespectful and, well, embarrassing. Our pal Lisa Katayama adds, "The Japanese guy interviewed makes a valid point: he says they allowed tourists here because they thought it would be an interesting learning experience to see how the fish market operated; but at the point where they are blatantly disrupting operations, its time for an intervention."

Video of tourists licking fish at Tsukiji


  1. sometimes I think there ought to be a way to hold people responsible when they go out of their way to debase the value of the passport you share. Apart from the disruption and danger they caused in Japan, they have now made it harder for anyone British to travel. Or for anyone to be foreign in Japan. Some restitution to their countrymen?

  2. The first guys are obviously British, I recognized our mentally-deficient style immediately, but I’m very suspicious about the nationality Forklift truck riding guys. The floppy haired one is deliberately trying to mask his accent when he speaks, consequently his accent is all over the place.
    There are some slightly Germanic vowels plus some trans-atlantic vowel sounds makes me guess at a nationality of Danish.

    Another clue: English people can’t speak other languages, surely everyone knows that?

  3. When Japanese tourists stop having their pictures taken before the World Trade Center site while flashing big smiles and peace signs, we’ll consider it even. Not a jingoist or supporter of oft-crass western manners, but assholes come in all nationalities.

  4. Not sure what your point is here. English people are world-class idiots given enough beer, but that’s not exactly news.

  5. The douchebag at the end of that clip sounded scandinavian to me; though I suspected that he wasn’t a native english speaker when he attempted to speak Japanese! Either way, Japan is a country I’ve wanted to visit for a while now (shame about the exchange rate), including Tokyo’s fish market. It’s pretty disheartening to see anyone put the ‘ass’ into ambassador, because like it or not, everyone becomes one (to some extent) whenever they travel outside their own borders.

  6. @#5

    And when Americans stop selling, and more to the point, buying, crap like 9/11 Memorial coins we’ll be in a position to scold foreigners about how to behave at the WTC site.

  7. Disgracing themselves?

    I was expecting something worse than hitching a ride on the back of a little truck – seemingly with the permission of the driver (at least he didn’t seem bothered by it) – and sticking your tongue out to a tuna.

    On the contrary, the intolerant attitude of the old Japanese guy, over such a trifling matter, seems more disgraceful.

  8. Having lived as a foreigner in Japan, and currently as a non-foreigner in New York, I can say unequivocally the Japanese are more tolerant of our BS tourist behavior than the other way around.

    Part of this may be that drinking is such an important part of Japanese culture. A lot of allowances are made for drunk Japanese men (I was in charge of taking my Japanese boss home and getting him into bed on a few occasions), but when foreigners–and especially non-Canadian English speakers–get drunk, they think it is an excuse to really behave like idiots. I suspect that the general tolerance (and even celebration) of foreigners acting funny makes people believe they can do anything they want.

  9. I think Japanese just need to learn when to drop the politeness and punch one of those guys in the throat. There’s a similar video on you tube somewhere where a drunken Aussie throws a bicycle at a garbage truck in Osaka, and that exact thing happens. The driver gets out and swiftly hits him in the larynx. It’s fun to watch his young surprised face, with a look of “wow, people don’t like idiotic behavior here and will respond to it negatively just like in my home country.”

  10. well as ashamed as i am to be the same nationality of those first guys it should be pointed out that, cory your country did provide the world with tom green. I’d say that makes this post invalid.

    That last guy however seemed to be messing around with his accent, and everyone knows the British can’t speak any other languages.

  11. Hurray! They’re not furthering an AMERICAN stereotype! After visiting D.C. this summer, I’d like to say that I found that every nationality acts like an ass on vacation. No exceptions.

  12. Is anyone able to translate the conversation at the end? I’m curious to what he could be saying as they’re escorted off the fish market!

    I went there year a few years ago, awesome place! caught some of the tuna auctions and general craft these guys master, and this is just offensive, especially considering the totally respectful and polite culture of the Japanese

  13. There’s been talk of closing Tsukiji to tourists for years. I doubt this will tip it one way or the other. Even polite, well-mannered tourists get in the way constantly (myself included).

    @#5 Matrix: Those Japanese people aren’t assholes, in my experience, they’re just oblivious.

    @#1 Takuan: It was already pretty hard to live in Japan as a foreigner, these guys haven’t really changed that. That being said, yes, they are dicks.

  14. “That was fun. What’s your name?

    You really need to stop. It’s dangerous.

    I’m French. What’s your name?

    That was pretty bad, what you did.

    Excuse me… my Japanese… (is not so good)
    You don’t speak English?

    Speak Japanese. This is Japan.”

    That’s just the last bit. The guys is speaking basic Japanese, what anyone learns in their first year. I doubt he understood a word that was said to him.

  15. I’m shockeding…SHOCKED that these Brits are so clueless about a culture different from their own.

    (Actually, until I moved to the UK I had assumed that it was we Americans that were the bottom of the barrel tourist-wise…)

  16. It’s not very good to be drunk in public in the day, but those british guys antics really weren’t very bad at all. I mean what, they had some photos taken and one of them touched his tongue to a fish. Not the nicest thing to put your tongue to certainly but they’re not exactly wrecking the place are they?

    If I saw that behaviour in my local fishmarket I wouldn’t really care, and I doubt the stallholders would either.

    In b4 “yes but the fact that you wouldn’t care shows how degenerate society has become”, no it doesn’t, it shows it’s not that bad.

  17. @18 – That licked fish is stupid expensive, and it was just contaminated on television. Chances are it would have had to have been thrown out, which is not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of how many years of that fishes life? Can we get an ichthyologist in on this thread please?

  18. The last guy sounds definitely English to me, a bit on the posh side. I don’t understand why people would say he sounds Scandinavian, he slurs slightly but that doesn’t make him sound Swedish at all. He acts like a proper Brit too.

  19. I’m sorry. I remember feeling embarrassed the same way about fellow brits, the last time I was in Barcelona. :-(

  20. The floppy haired guy sounds English to me. He claims he’s French, though his accent says he’s clearly lying. And, really, what other nationality would do something boorish repeatedly and then claim to be French?


    Since the start of this week, foreign tourists (also known as “gaijin”) are banned from Tsukiji.
    Probably also thanks to these guys, but it seems to me this video of “Gaijin behaving badly” popped up a bit too timely.
    Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for adapting to local customs of not licking the merchandise (where on earth would this be okay? You lick it, you buy it!).
    But I’m also firmly against racist decisions like “All foreigners (aka “Gaijin”) are just the same and can’t behave like proper people (aka “Japanese”), therefore we must ban them.”
    I have been to Japan often, and the growing nationalism and racism makes me sad.
    I, for one, will take my freedom not to visit Tsukiji.
    That’ll show them.

  22. While eating in a small restaurant in Iceland I heard a fellow American…who was obese and VERY loud the entire time they were there…..trying to order something that wasn’t on the menu. The phrase that was used (in a whiny complaining voice) was this…” But I gots me a taste for salmon”.
    That being the case….I can say nothing about any other country’s tourists….ever.

  23. i lived in japan for a year and a half, and got to the point where i really couldn’t stand most other gai-jin, especially the tourist variety. the last guy pisses me off the most, since he’s obviously been in japan for awhile- long enough to speak really crappy japanese, and should know better. i will say that the fish market is one of the more confusing, dangerous, and disorienting “tourist” areas i’ve ever been. i almost got ran over by about 10 of those little mini-trucks! and, given that the best time to visit is at 6 in the morning or earlier, i would recommend having a lot of coffee before you go, as being half-awake there is not much fun.

  24. The next time I’m visiting my husbands family in England and a stranger just has to come up to me and make complaints about rude American tourists, I think I shall direct them to this video.

  25. You know what? People act like jackasses. The best thing you can do is -not- act like a jackass, and raise your kids to not act like jackasses. That’s pretty much what it comes down to, I figure. I don’t know how this relates, but it kind of reminds me of a time about two years ago when I found myself in a bar in San Francisco listening to a sort of jump blues band. They were pretty damn good I thought, until they started playing ‘Pick a Bale o Cotton’ and all the (yes, white) hipsters went apesh*t dancing around. That just felt really weird to me, you know? Maybe I’m too uptight or something… What was the question again?

  26. I haven’t watched that video yet. I don’t want to watch that video. I’ve had quite enough of other foreigners with absolutely no sense of restraint or appropriateness f&*@king things up and giving us a poor reputation in Japan. The last time being a professional conference, at which some of the Americans present acted like drunken university students.

    I’m planning a trip to Tokyo with my girlfriend in mid-January – can only hope the ban is lifted by then, as I’d really like to see the fish markets >:(

  27. I live in Tokyo currently, and there was a report on NHK news last night. The market is apparently off-limits until mid-January to test the impact of a full ban. The report also talked about how unruly it had become, with sometimes over 500 people attending, all of them taking flash pictures, and straying out of the cordoned-off viewing area, even after repeated warnings to step back. And as said above, that fish is hell expensive. Thousands of dollars per fish. You don’t touch them, and you certainly don’t lick ’em.

    To be honest, I’ve lived here for 10 years, had visited for 7 before that, and never saw the appeal of seeing a fish auction. If this is your highlight, you should give that tour book another go-through. Plenty to see folks.

  28. A couple of years back I was working in Chin Hae Korea & we stumbled upon the local fish market while wandering the shopping area. Came back later with another guy who would do anything for a picture, & he promptly began to take photos of the ladies at their stalls. They would cover their faces, or wave to show they didn’t want to be photographed, but to no avail, he kept shooting. One lady came out from behind her stall, got a good sized fish, about 18″ long, 4″ in diameter out of a container, nestled it under her arm, worked a hand into the gills, spreading them out, then ripped the head off with her other hand, right in front of the photographer, who almost puked. Best moment of the entire month of work

  29. i’ve been to Tsukiji twice, just recently last month, and the time before, about 11 years ago, and i must say there was quite a lot of tourists this last time…

    the first time i went in ’97 i think i as one of only a handful of occasional tourists. the shop keepers were very tolerant of my questions and photography, and would even pose for me.

    this last time(nov 2008), however, i felt that there was less tolerance, and maybe even some tension… i was allowed to take photographs, and perhaps my tourist status was less apparent because of my half-japanese heritage.

    regardless of country, the native market places are wonderful places to visit and gain some deeper appreciation and unique insites for the host cultures. i hope to god these half-witted sods haven’t ruined it for the rest of us. Tsukiji is an awesome place to visit when in Tokyo, hope the tourist ban is only temporary…

  30. This video makes me FURIOUS! The Tsukiji ban has been all over the news here, but I figured it was just because there were simply too many foreigners in the betting area. I had NO IDEA that witless asshats like this even existed!

    It is EXACTLY people like this that ruin Japan for the rest of us. They can’t speak worth shit, and they use that as a weapon to try to get away with EVERYTHING. It’s one thing to not know Japanese, that’s not the big deal. The Japanese are kind to everyone, regardless- but when f**ktwits like this USE their own linguistic incompetence to make all foreigners look bad, they create these damn stereotypes I have to battle and break down every day just living here.

    Someone give me their addresses, and the next time I’m in london, I’ll make a special ass-kicking trip, just for them! >.<

  31. In the instance of British law, is there any provision whereby a citizen abroad commits an offense under law if they willfully do something illegal abroad that brings British citizenship into disrepute or somehow damages the interests of the Crown in that foreign country? Did they ever set precedent with football hooligans abroad?

  32. I live in Japan, and have done for a long time.

    Couple things:

    1) Tourists are assholes. Let’s not pretend any are better or worse. All you can do is try not to be one when you’re out and about.

    2) The ban is not on foreign tourists; it’s on all tourists. This does not sound like a bad idea. Tsukuji is a wholesale market. It’s where Japanese fishermen sell their illegal overcatches of tuna in full view of God and everyone–everyone but regulators, because they’d have to start fining people, and that would eventually mean that they couldn’t afford to have negi toro don for lunch. It’s the kind of place I’d like to see, but it’s also the kind of place I don’t think I’d like tourists crawling all over if I had to work there.

    3) Gaijin issues are always problematic for me. On the one hand, I hate being discriminated against. I hated being turned down for credit cards until I was married to a local. I hate it when tour companies won’t sell to me because I’m not Japanese. I hate it when people ask to see the equivalent of my green card when I’m doing mundane things (FYI: Only the police or immigration authorities can ask for your Gaikokujin Tourokusho, legally). But then when I see stuff like this, I know why. I really do wish more people would punch foreigners. But, then again, the people who usually do are actually just pigheaded racists with inferiority complexes–same as skinheads, etc. in the US.

    4) I would have loved it if they made him buy that maguro. That would have taught him.

  33. I live opposite Tsukiji and, like @THEMARK said, I think there are far better things to see in Tokyo.

    But if you’re planning to go there then you should be aware that the ban applies only to the auction floor and not to the jogai shijo (outer market). You’ll still be able to go and see all the fishmongers shops and sushi bars.

  34. Of course, if they were in thongs and being followed around by a midget and a film crew, it would just be Jackass. Fill a tourist with enough fine Japanese beer and I think you will get idiocy, no matter what the nationality.

    One thing I find much worse is the recent protests at Bangkok airport. One TV report had a retired British couple sat in their 5 star hotel room and the woman was hissing about “the Thais behaving like children with their stupid little protest”. A Radio 4 piece had an American bellowing at some poor Thai woman about how “it was an important holiday back home and all these people are going to miss it because of your STUPID actions”. I was truly ashamed that over-privileged Westerners were throwing their toys out of the pram because they hadn’t got home to watch The Antiques Roadshow/stuff themselves with turkey. The Thais were protesting peacefully and effectively for their democracy, and we’re all for the democracy, right? With the ranting American, the Thai woman replied with great grace and apologised for the inconvenience caused. Very civilised.

  35. It is no secret that Brits abroad behave pretty disgracefully. Once upon a time it was limited to anywhere that was a) near a beach b) hot and c) cheap, but now with flights (relatively) cheap to all over, drunken Brits can now pass out in a better class of gutter.

    @27 – As soon as discount airlines started mainlining Barcelona for £30 each way, it turned the Ramblas into one giant conga line of Stag and Hen doos.

  36. for those who think the floppy haired one ‘sounds british’ I would like you to check out my American Accent. Here we go:

    ” Howdy Mr Pardner, yesireeee buddy, hit moi baseball!!! ”

    just as convincing.

  37. This makes me almost sick to watch. They clearly have no idea about the value of that tuna, nor respect for what was a fantastic animal and will soon be fantastic food. It’s not just a fish.

    It makes me ashamed to be British, and is definitely in part a cultural thing for some sectors of society. I guess at least the guy spoke a little Japanese, rather than just speaking English more loudly and slowly, but this is hardly a saving grace.

    I’ve become a fairly regular visitor to Japan and hope to continue with this. I had relatively limited time in Tokyo, so forwent going to Tsukiji (it was more one of the things to ‘tick off’ than somewhere I definitely wanted to go). It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t see it (plus fish markets are not exactly rare). I’m more annoyed by this perpetuating the barbarian image of gaijin.

    The tragedy of the commons strikes again and a few idiots spoil it for all.

  38. When I saw the fist bit of the clip with them on the back of the forklift i thought it was pretty funny to be honest, reminded me of Beverley hills cop or some thing ha ha..

    just watched it again, yep still made me laugh..

  39. FYI: a whole tuna on the Japanese market varies in price due to the auction system, but the record is Â¥20,000,000, and the average is around Â¥5600/kg for bluefin from Japan, and the average tuna is 7kg in weight. That’s Â¥39,200 for the licked fish. Or about US$439 at today’s exchange rate.

    The tourists should have been made to pay for the whole tuna. “You licked it, you bought it.”

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