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Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場

January 11, 2009

Technically, its official name it “The Tokyo Metropolitan Wholesale Market”.  But everyone just refers to it as the Tsukiji fish market.  I’ve been wanting to visit for years especially since the government is planning on moving the market to a new location by 2012.  Something to do with the aged buildings of the current site.  Probably has to do with the current site being too small for the size of the operation it has become.

Tsukiji is the largest wholesale seafood market in the world.  Seafood from Tsukiji gets shipped daily all over the world.  Photos and video can not convey the amount of activity that goes on in the place.  Unfortunately, due to a history of ignorant tourists combined with the busiest time of the year, the auction area was closed to the public when I went but there was still plenty to see in the rest of the market.

The majority of the action is over by around 9:00am in the wholesale section of the market so I made sure I was there before 7:00.  Had the auction area been open, I would have been there by 6:00.  Honestly, I only saw a mere fraction of what there is to see.  The market is broken down into inner and outer markets.   The inner market (jonai shijou) is where the auctions and the processing of the fish is done.  In the wholesaler’s section alone, there are close to 1,000 stalls.  Any type of seafood you can imagine is sold in that area, and quite possibly some types you can’t imagine.  The outer market (jogai shijou) has a combination of restaurants, kitchen supply stores and other types of shops.

There was one thing I noticed about Tsukiji and that’s the smell – there isn’t one.  I walk by some of the small fishseller markets here in Hong Kong and I almost have to hold my nose but a place as huge as Tsukiji, dealing with seafood and it doesn’t smell like seafood, that’s pretty amazing.  Apparently it has to do with the way the dealers use sterilized seawater rather than freshwater.  It would be nice if the fish sellers in Hong Kong would follow suit.

Of course I couldn’t go to Tsukiji and not eat some sort of seafood.  In the Uogashi Yokocho area (literally, “riverside fish market”)  just outside the inner market I bypassed the lineups outside some of the really overpriced sushi places and headed straight to a little place which was recommended in the Japanese culture magazine, Kateigaho.  Apparently, Edogawa is a favourite of the folk who work in the market.  When I arrived, there were only two other folk occupying the place.  Aside from the food, the other highlight was when the Obasan who owns the place chased away a couple of noisy tourists who couldn’t decide what they wanted to do about eating there.  Rather than discussing it quietly, they proceeded to shout at each other between shops.  So, Obasan said, “No, no, no. Not this time!” and closed the door on them.  Brilliant.





8 Comments leave one →
  1. hippopotames permalink
    January 11, 2009 10:12 pm

    i like tihs picture,and Tsukiji Fish market.
    good night.


  2. sfrack permalink
    January 11, 2009 10:18 pm

    Love your entry. Love Japan! Curious about your site title “Perogies, Sushi and Bubble tea”. Perogies???? Doesn’t fit into the Japanese cuisine.


    • January 12, 2009 7:49 am

      Hi there, thanks for looking at my site.
      True, I can’t really complain about this little adventure I’m on though like all aspects of life, it’s got its highs and lows.
      As for the blog title, Perogies (due to my Ukrainian heritage), Sushi (due to my love of Japan), Bubble Tea (due to my living in Hong Kong at the moment).
      More Tokyo posts to come!


  3. littletiger permalink
    January 11, 2009 10:44 pm

    Hello – love the Tsukiji fish market – I lived in Japan in the 90s and loved to go there early in the morning to watch the market get going! Wonderful pictures – they really brought back great memories!


    • January 12, 2009 7:54 am

      Hi there,
      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoy the photos. More from Tokyo to come in the next little while.


  4. January 11, 2009 10:52 pm

    The fish market will reopen the tuna auctions from Januray 19th. There was a fear the temporary bad imposed at this busy holiday time would be extended indefinately but tourism is too big an earner for Japan. Withn the strong Yen now making Japan almost as expensive as most people imagine to be, it doesn`t do to annoy those tourists that do make it this far and do wake up at stupid O`clock to go down to the fish market for the tuna auctions. According to today`s Japan Times over 500 visitors attend each morning, which seems an ambitiously large number to me, but what is sure is there are many more foreigners walking around than there used to be and the number s causing problems for the day to day operation of the market. never mind some of the idiots:
    Checked your site too, some nice images on there, the sword smith work has some gems as does the street work. The sword smith work is too much though. Edit it down to 20 max and you have a tight essay there.
    Good portarits your skill with medium format shows, pretty girls too lucky man!!

    Anyway just wanted to say hello and shame you missed the best Tsukiji has to offer, but I`m sure you`ll be back.


    • January 12, 2009 7:59 am

      Thanks for checking out my sites.
      Yes, I knew before going to Tokyo that it would only be a temporary ban to the auction site particularly due to how busy the market gets at nenmatsu. You’re right though, I intend to go back. Different time of the year perhaps.

      The series of the swordsmith is an ongoing project. Sometimes it’s longer, sometimes shorter, sometimes with colour.

      More to come from Tokyo soon. Please come again.

      Take care.


  5. January 12, 2009 11:38 pm

    銀座でお会いできてとても楽しかったです。ゴードンさんの「Tokyo Trip」東京滞在記、この後もとても楽しみにしています。


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