Japan Wishlist: Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
The Tsukiji Fish Market
by Harry Jarvis (Harry Hearts Food)
Ever since watching the Anthony Bourdain No reservations episode in Japan, I have wanted to go. It’s not that I did not want to go to Japan before, rather, it was never really on my radar of must see destinations. This all changed, however, when in typical Bourdain style, he visited the Tsukiji Fish Market in central Tokyo. Now if you have never heard of this market but have a serious passion for all things seafood, then this is your Mecca.
To start with, this is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, with over nine hundred vendors wheeling and dealing their daily catch. As you can imagine from the nation that is literally obsessed with eating anything from under the sea, the popularity and pace of people bidding for the freshest and largest fish is something to behold.
The market officially opens at 3am, with the fishermen proudly displaying their wares for all to see and to check out the competition. This in itself is worth looking around for, because as you inspect the four hundred plus species of fish and underwater creatures, unless you are a marine biologist, you will discover things you never knew existed. From tiny little sardines that will no doubt end up canned, funky looking seaweed that does a great imitation of algae, to the highly controversial whale meat. Whether you agree or not, this place has it all.
After everyone has had their chance to eye up their intended target, at 5:30am the auctions begin, and this is where the real fun is at. Watching hundreds of people shout and jostle over fish is fascinating. The biggest prize of all is Tuna, and earlier this year set a new record as a giant Bluefin tuna was sold for $736,000. Which for those who were lucky enough to get some, equates to $96 for one slice of sushi!
All of this hustle and bustle ends around 7am, by which time you’re probably a bit dazed, confused and incredibly hungry, for which the outer stalls of the market cater for. If for one moment you think it’s too early for sushi, then think again. This will be the freshest, finest sushi you will have had the pleasure of eating, produced by masters who take their profession very seriously.
By 8am everything is pretty much over, all the seafood is being loaded and shipped on to their new lucky owners, ready for when the rest of Japan awakes to start their day.
For me this market is reason alone for anyone to search high and low for cheap Japan airfares, all the other things like the centuries of history and culture the country has to offer, amazing architecture, the wonderful people and mouthwatering food, these are just added benefits. Hopefully I’ll be visiting Japan in the future and this market will be one of my main destinations.