Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Japan: The Tsukiji Fish Market!!!!!!

Good Morning! 

We were up at 0215 in morning to make it to secure a limited access stop to see the Tsukiji Market tuna auctions in action. We caught an Uber, since public transportation does not run at this time, and we did not want to risk it with a taxi. We arrived just in time to survive the most torrential downpour I have seen in a really long time, and we were soaked from a dead sprint to a 24hr convenience store to buy umbrellas. 

There are only 120 people allowed in per day, and the auction starts at 0515. We arrived at 0330, and we were in the second batch of 60 people (first wave of got green mesh vests, and the second batch received blue). All of the vests were gone by 0400.

Adam and I had differing opinions about the early hour of this experience!

Despite the early arrival, we did not go in until 0545, and it was insanely busy. We were kept under close watch within tight reigns. No one wanted us to interfere with or interrupt the delicate balance of the controlled chaos.

There were people everywhere, examining and analyzing the massive tunas. What I didn’t realize is that most tuna is frozen (which it can be for up to two years), and this is the “fresh tuna” that everyone is fighting for as their “fresh sushi” and “fresh sashimi" (sushi minus the rice, just the meat). There are fresh tuna also auction, but typically the frozen is more expensive. 
Now you know
As soon as the auction for a particular batch of tuna is about to being, the auctioneer starts ringing a hand-bell furiously, and has a little dance that he does. It is all quite fascinating to watch.

After 20 minutes of thoroughly enjoying the fish auction, we were ushered out of the refrigerator and our tour was complete. 

Was it worth it? 
Depends on who you ask…. 
For Adam, nope. 
For him, it was too early and too many people. But he loves me, and perseveres.

The fish auction is a very small part of the action, as the market is not only about tuna. The Tsukiji Market is a huge complex spanning many blocks to include the sales of all things seafood, fruits, vegetables, kitchen items, and a ton of small counters selling food, all to wander and explore. Which we definitely did! We sat down a small place with only 5 tables and enjoyed fresh sashimi bowls for breakfast at 0630. It was incredible. It also came with a steep price, which was worth it for the experience.

Our breakfast!

Our breakfast!

After a mid-morning nap, we ventured out to explore the Ginza area of Tokyo. This included Chiyoda Park, another massive park system within the city to provide expansive greenery, and also house the current Imperial Palace and is the site of the ancient Edo Castle.

And this brings us to the close of an absolutely epic trip. It was action packed and exhausting, in all the most wonderful of ways. Now we just need to get back to this beautiful country to explore all of the areas north of Tokyo, as this trip on accomplished Tokyo and south!