Something Fishy

One advantage of jet lag is being able to to wake up easily for things like the Tsukiji fish market tuna auctions in Tokyo. They only allow 120 people per day to watch, so, I was up at 3 am and to the market by 4 am. It is on my list of things to see.

I am both stunned and reassured by the fact that I am not the only weirdo who would be drawn to such a thing, for alas,  I was 10 minutes too late. There are at least 120 earlier birds and countless other jet lagged and disappointed Caucasians wandering around the awakening streets wondering what to do with their mornings until the rest of the city arises.

Coffee Vending Machine

I sit for a moment with my vending machine coffee and then decide to wander the streets with the other fish zombies.

I came upon a 24 hour sushi place.  This place is the Waffle house of sushi, and I mean that in only the most positive way. Three old men running the place.  Greeting the guests as they enter and cranking out fresh sushi and hot green tea all night long. Seeing that the fish was bought off the boat 100 yards away, I figured it had to be fresh and, if caught off the shores of Fukushima, maybe radioactive.

Anyway, it tasted super fresh and the chef let me take his photo.  Though I’ve never asked for early morning sushi, it was the best Sushi breakfast you could ask for.

Chef and Breakfast

Revived, I decided to redouble my efforts to see the auction and infiltrate the market.  This wasn’t too hard to do.  I just disguised myself as an aging Asian guy and ducked into the crowd. Though they don’t really want outsiders there until 9 AM, there is no admission or gates.  It wasn’t too hard to get in.  
First was the Fruit and Veggie market.  Wholesale crates of perfect peaches and kiwis individually wrapped.  Boxes of carrots and cabbages stacked head high. Headed to markets everywhere.

Then the intermediate fish market.  Here is where the big fish are cut down to size for distribution.  Other fish and seafood is sold as well. Snapper, squirrel fish, eels, roe, scallops, shrimp  Aisle upon aisle of it.  One wanders and may come to two conclusions.  The sea is so abundant. Or, we are raping the seas.  Or both.  

Fish on Ice
Tuna cut down

Further in, is the tuna auction. This market is mostly just an open garage with rows of frozen tunas arrayed on the floor, like rows of torpedos. Men in boots gather round another man standing on a stool.  With a  quick shout he starts a little dance, barking out prices.  It’s all very choreographed and probably the same little dance that’s been danced for hundreds of years.

It would have been nice to watch for awhile, but I got too bold and started to take photos.  That’s when the Tuna Police came and politely escorted me off the grounds.  Who knew there were such a people? 

I did manage to get a few shots.  Here’s the best of them.

Blurry Tuna Auction

After sunrise, the crowds line up for a sushi Breakfast.This place only seats about 12 people at a time.  How do you say “Eat it and beat!” it in Japanese?

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