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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo

Today I was going through a disk of photos from my old computer and found the shots of my holiday to Japan in 2002. Taking advantage of my new-found knowledge of how to post multiple photos to one blog entry (thank God! That whole cutting and pasting rubbish was so tedious!) I thought I'd include a few photos of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo - the largest seafood market in the world. It is mind boggling in scale. We arrived about lunchtime, which I knew to be late. I imagined everything would have closed by then, but things were still going strong. People everywhere, and great food for my eyes!

Those are two large, solidly frozen fish that were currently being slid across the wet concrete floor. In fact I was nearly mown down by one, steered by a fisherman with a very big stick. Don't get in the way of anyone when going to this market! The lanes are narrow and crowded, and there are long, sharp tools being flung around everywhere. And these huge frozen fish could kill a person! There is a serious chance of being injured if you don't have your wits about you. After seeing theese fish progress along the floor I kind of hoped they weren't going to be sold for human consumption... Notice the elderly man regarding them with great interest.

This guy was the friendliest fisherman I couldn't understand that I've ever met. He didn't speak a word of English and we didn't speak any Japanese, but through a creative use of sign language he taught us that the name of the fish he was dragging down the corridoor was a Magaro tuna. He then went on to correct our pronunciation, with much assistance, goodwill and laughter from the surrounding workers. Notice the big stick the fisherman has - there's a nasty sharp hook on the end of that he was swinging around with great abandon. Watch out!

There is a lot of blood and gore around this market so luckily I'm not too squeamish! Those crates are filled with fish guts and bits of gooey, bloody things. Notice the fisherman with a big nasty knife hacking into that chunk of fish. This photo makes the place look a bit grimy, but I assure you the turnover is so high here that the place is thoroughly cleaned every day.

A general photo of the type of scenario at the market. Undercover, lots of individual stalls, and hundreds of crates lining the floors, making navigation a hazardous endeavour! There were distinct laneways, but they were often blocked by a stray crate ready to be carted away somewhere.

Ok - I had to take a closeup of these. What the h*ll are they??? They look just like mussels, but these are mussels of a size I've never seen in my life. These look like mussels on steroids!! Aren't they incredible!!

These are a slightly smaller mussel-looking shellfish that had been opened. Again, what exactly are they? They look like mussels that have been fed extremely well. Or mutated like alien life forms.... Can you imagine a seafood spaghetti made with a few of these??? I'm fascinated by them!

A visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market is definitely worth it if you're in Tokyo and want to do something a bit different. It was a real highlight of my trip there. It's a very busy place, open most days and a real treat for the eyes. Another advantage is the many little food stalls around the market selling noodles, freshly cooked fish and ramen. We went afterwards, and I had the best bowl of ramen ever.
Don't go to this market if you're a little bit squeamish though; this is definitely a real working market, with blood, gore and sharp knives flying around you and I get the feeling they don't take too kindly to tourists getting too much in the way of their business. Visitors are certainly welcome though - just keep your wits about you, and soak up the atmosphere.


  • Thanks for sharing. I meant to do this when I was in Japan but slept in and thought I would be too late. Good to know if I visit again I could still go at lunchtime.

    By Anonymous Barbara, at 5/03/2005 07:20:00 am  

  • wow...this brings back memories of when I went to Japan. It was cool looking at those huge frozen tuna fish. I didn't know they were so big until I went to the market.

    By Anonymous Tea, at 5/04/2005 01:49:00 pm  

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