The noiseless midnight is in fact, a busy start of the hectic Tsujiki Fish Market. Beware of the reckless carts here, as their sole concern is the seafood’s freshness.It was midnight by then,
the throng at Jonathan restaurant adjoining the Tsujiki Fish Market
didn’t recede from view. There were fewer people than day time, but there were still quite many.
I surmised that the people in Tokyo never go to bed.
After a toothsome meal there,
it was almost time,
so I started to wait outside to get into the market.
Having made a name for itself, Tsujiki Fish Market is a famed fish auction market located in Tokyo.
It is not available for walk-in entries but it would accept up to 120 visitors on trading days.
It was my second time to stop over in the market.
We were lining up since 2am and it was accepting visitors on a first come first serve basis.
Subsequently we had to wait till 5:40am to get into the auction market.
And for this reason, I would have to stay awake for the whole night.
The staff at long last opened the gate at 2:30am,
so we could enter the waiting area, in where we had to sit tight again.
Many visitors looked worn out,
some of them were totally bushwhacked and they just slept on the floor.
Actually, most of the visitors were foreigners,
there were only a few local Japanese.
I noticed a good place where I could lean against the wall and had some time out.
I decided to go there anew
because a downpour deluged the view the day before when I toured there,
that I couldn’t see the view clearly outside the market.
I just hoped everything would be going well the second time.
So I put my overnight working experiences from the previous decade to good use.
And with the experience the day before, I managed to take some shut-eye this time.
On a sudden, I was distracted by some chitter-chatter of the staffs.
Kohseh had come, I knew it.
He’s all animation.
The guy is a pint-sized middle age man who looks very enthusiastic.
He was wearing a hat and a pair of rain boots, with that archetypal big torchlight in his hand.
Kohseh is a tuna buyer.
His job is to pick and bid the best tunas.
With his fluent English, people get overwhelmed by the whimsical sense of humour of this legend.
The market was so attentive that they sent this conscientious man here
so that he could elucidate everything about tunas.
He told us that the best tunas were in fact bid by the top-notch restaurants.
The second-rate or inferior tunas would be canned in factories.
The best parts of tunas are from the upper bodies.
He had been working as a buyer for more than 20 years,
fitfully he did make mistakes too.
He could only offer those inferior tunas at lower prices to other commissioners when he got inferior tunas sometimes.
I found some of his talks were mightily hilarious:
The Tsukiji Market postponed its relocation, it is because they are just like my wife -they like to spend money on some extraneous matters. (So does this mean they have financial problems?)
When we get off from work, my counterparts are just like my friends. We often discuss works, politics and human rights (foreigners laugh), besides, we also like to discuss how to improve the relations between Japan and China. (everyone laughs)
I come here to tell you all these because I don’t need to see my boss.
It had been 20 years since we married, my wife said she wanted to go somewhere that she had never visited before. So I suggested: How about the kitchen?
Japanese love tunas, but tunas don’t love Japanese.
Basically he just revivified the heavy-eyed with his humorous jokes.
It was almost time,
we followed the staff and took extra care to enter the market.
Yes, I said extra care.
There were staffs on trolleys driving recklessly everywhere.
Yes, recklessly is the best word to describe, if not, foolhardy then.
But in fact, this is their own sphere of influence.
They needed to act as quickly as possible as the seafood had to be kept as fresh as possible.
If you block their way out,
they will give a dirty look if you are blessed enough,
for the worse cases, they just bawl and yell promptly.
The leading staff will as well shout together.
The freshness of the seafood is of the greatest importance here.
And that’s also why they only allow up to 120 visitors a day.
Just before the auction started,
the tuna buyers would scrutinise the tunas on the floor thoroughly.
The tunas were left with small cuts on them.
Some of the buyers would incise a small slice and then feel it with their hands.
Some would examine with torchlights.
Some would even taste it pronto.
Some of them looked very experienced.
With cups of coffee in their hands,
they lingered back and forth, while their sharp gazes kept contemplating on every tuna.
They would only stop by the fish to inspect carefully when they confirmed,
not wasting any of their most valuable time.
After around ten minutes, the auction finally started.
A staff stood on a box and shook his handbell,
then spoke out the bidding prices.
1st time, 2nd time… I didn’t quite understand anyhow.
But it was so intriguing to watch the staff shouting out the prices.
You would sense that he tried his very best to shout out the prices, with his fingers indicating every time he bawled.
And if the audiences wanted to bid, they had to raise their fingers up in response.
You could feel their attitude and circumspection here.
Without doubts, a kilogram of tuna costs at least 3000 yen.
Imagine a tuna fish of over 100 kg…
It took only a few minutes for one item.
It might have up to a thousand tuna to be bid a day.
As was anticipated, there were other sorts of seafood as well.
It’s already 6am after the auction.
You can’t say a tour to Tsujiki Market is complete without trying the food,
I wouldn’t miss the fresh seafood breakfast this time.
There are inner and outer parts of the market.
The external market is open to the public.
If you want to have breakfast or if you wish to buy marine products, you can only go to the outer market.
A ramen shop caught my attention.
The waiter just pointed at a board as I got in.
So it only served one kind of ramen there.
Only a renowned one with a long history could do it this way.
Its name is Inoue.
If you ask me how was the ramen there compared to others…
It was the soup base, it was not as thick as others but it was so velvety.
I am not a master gourmet nor a connoisseur of great food, I might not be able to describe it.
Yet my only comment is: this shop is a sine qua non if one visits Tsukiji.
One of my many skills is
that I can eat anytime.
I went to another shop and tried the king crab rice with egg.
I wanted to see how fresh it could be.
By all means, it was fresh, but it didn’t give a great overall impression.
It was already 7 am,
I reached my limit that
I thought I could fall asleep anytime.
I had to leave the market at once so that I could take a power nap, like a 30-minute one.
That was because my next stop was to watch sumo matches.
Tsukiji Fish Market initially planning for a move by November, 2016.
Even is delayed, it is always good to double check the address online before going there.
Other than that, you will have to check the trading date as well.
Victor Tai | Feedom is a Right
- LocationTsukiji Fish Markt, Tokyo, Japan
- CameraCanon EOS 3 / EF 70-200mm f2.8L
Canon F1 / FD 50mm f2.8 S.S.C
FujiColor Superia X-TRA 400
- Other Language繁體中文