1.12.2009

A Trip to Tsukiji

4am, the end of November...

I've been sitting awake in the dark for about a half hour now. Jet lag is rough you can't fall asleep when you want to and you can't stay asleep once you are sleeping. No matter. Getting up early is the name of the game if you want catch all the action at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Stumbling groggily out of my hotel I was confronted with an empty street. I saw a homeless man sleeping in front of the closed enterance of the subway so my theory on taking the subway there was quickly proved wrong.

After heading toward the market, I was able to flag down a taxi which dropped me at the enterance of Tsukiji. Immediately I knew why this is one of Tokyo's most popular "attractions". There were workers standing and eating noodles in dimly lit stands. Seafood and other foodstuffs were being loaded and unloaded in delivery trucks. I wanted to see the tuna auctions and asked as passerby where to go. As he probably was tired of all the tourists he grumbled something and waved me off. Clearly he didn't want to be disturbed.

I pressed on and decided to find what I was looking for myself. One of the first things I learned was that Tsukiji is huge. Its a maze of seafood products. Scallops, urchins, and every type of fish can be found around here. 

The next thing I realized was I had to be careful not to get run over. The market has an endless supply of of these strange carts which transport all the food. These carts are everywhere and will run over anyone in a moment's notice. I'm sure this includes naive tourist, and especially me. Fortunately, I was lucky and made it out without getting run over by a fish cart.

As I got deeper in the market I figured one of two things would happen. I would either run into the water where some of the seafood originated, or I would find the tuna auctions. Fortunately the latter happened. I watched these giant tunas getting transacted for a half hour or so. Secretly I wondered if I would get thrown out if I placed a bid.

After the excitement wore off, I made my way out of the market. On the outskirts of the market there are many shops where you can purchase all sorts of fish and seafood related trinkets including knives, windsocks and more. Also, I took the requisite breakfast of sashimi. The fish was phenomenal. It was fresh and delicious. By the time I was done eating I had had tuna, scallops, shrimp and yellowtail.



By the time 8am rolled around, I was heading back to my hotel. As Tokyo was making its way to work I was making my way back to my hotel. It was satisfying knowing what I had experienced so early in the morning. This was a great experience that I would hope anyone who is interested in food would get to try. One day I hope to make it back, but until then I will keep dreaming of all the tasty seafood!


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