Friday, July 10, 2009

Tsukiji Market

This is a little out of order chronologically, but I wanted to share nonetheless. The very first morning after Ryan and I arrived, we woke up at 4am and decided to do what every jet-lagging tourist is supposed to do when they're awake at that ungodly hour: go to the tsukiji fish market (sounds like skeegee). We caught the first subway of the morning and headed southeast to the harbor. Once there we let our noses guide us to the giant warehouse area of fish being bought and sold every day in Tokyo.
By far the most spectacular part is the daily auction of tuna. Here you can see the floor of one of many large rooms filled with the frozen behemoths.
There is a little flap cut out of the skin near the tail. Potential buyers spend some amount of time pulling down the little flap, grabbing a little chunk of meat and rolling it around in their fingers. We saw one guy do this rolling, looking, rolling, looking on one fish for a good 5 minutes.
Then the auction begins. Each warehouse has about 4 auctioneers, each in charge of about 5 dozen tunas. The auctioneer stands up on the stool and starts ringing a bell to call the attention of all the buyers. This one additionally had sort of a marching thing going on. They call out prices, much in the same way that we've heard western auctioneers, and the buyers would raise hands with various gang signs, that apparently represent numbers. I have no idea what one of these tunas goes for, since counting and numbers were (and still are) completely incomprehensible to us, but a google search just told me that one can go for 10's to 100's of thousands in USD!
After the market we went to a nearby restaurant and had sushi for breakfast.

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