Day 18: Tsukiji Market

Trip Start Apr 08, 2010
1
25
42
Trip End May 06, 2010


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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Monday, April 26, 2010

3 am.
Time to go to bed ? It could be so on regular vacation. But today, it was the time when we woke up! Why so early ? Because we wanted to go and have a look at Tsukiji Market.
Best known in English as the "Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market", Tsukiji Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.

The market opened at 5am in Tokyo, so we had to leave Tsukuba at 4am. We left on time, as the sun hadn't showed up yet. We drove very easily to Tokyo ; who said Tokyo was a busy city with many traffic jams ? You should give it a try at 5am, it is very quiet ;-)

We finally arrived at Tsukiji, or at least what we thought was Tsukiji Market at that time. Indeed, Tsukiji is the biggest maket in the world, and has several different locations in Tokyo. We realised 3 hours later that we were not in the "right place", ie the most famous one.



But in fact, it appeared to be a good misunderstanding (due to the GPS actually !). The place where we were had a smaller fish market, but the good point was that we could see much more than what we could have in "real Tsukiji", especially tuna auctions. Thoses auctions are actually forbidden to visitors, but here we could enter it. And it was pretty amazing. So many tunas on the floor (frozen or fresh), and auctions were so quick !





For the record, before the auctions start, buyers are not allowed to touch fishes. The only thing they can do on frozen fishes is hit their flesh (where the tail has been cut off) with a kind of hook, to see if the meat looks good. But that's all, and thay can not do a thing on fresh fishes. So it's like poker, and when auctions start, it does not take more than 10 seconds to fix the price of each fish. You'd better know what you do when you buy a million yen fish (ca 100000 €) !




We then wandered in the market where fishes are cut (see thee video) and sold to restaurants, or other buyers...
That's where we discovered that frozen tunas are cut with a band saw !
We also saw fugu, the famous poisonous fish, and many other fresh fishes, often cut alive...

We then spent some time in the vegetables market, which was bigger than the fish market at this location. We saw many auctiond, on mangoes, bamboo roots, apples, goya (specialty of Okinawa)...



We finaly realized that we were not at the "good place" around 9am, and thus drove to the appropriate location. When we arrived there, it was much more busy and filled with tourists than in the first place. Auctions were closed, but we could still see the detail sellers, and we wandered in the long alleys of the warehouse.

To end this very interesting mornig, we stopped and had lunch (breakfast ?) in a sushi restaurant, just outside of Tsukiji.





A very nice way to say goodbye to Tokyo before taking off to Okinawa archipelago in the afternoon...

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