It’s cold (1 degree C) and wet. The forecast snow has, thankfully, not materialized as my friends and I had decided that would be visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market regardless.
Coming out of Tuskiji station (exit 2), we headed straight and crossed the footbridge by the Buddist temple before continuing up the street.
At the first set of traffic lights we were starting to see market stalls.
Wandering up we marveled at people enjoying sushi for breakfast. (Not our primary choice) washed down by a glass of beer. (Definitely not our primary choice!!)
We stumbled across an information center, which had an English speaking agent. He gave us a map and pointed us in the direction of the fish market.
What was surprising is that there was no smell. I’m not a fish fan and I can’t abide that smell, so I was pleasantly surprised.
The variety of fish was mind blowing, as was the uses that the Japanese have for virtually all parts of the fish.From oversized mussels (they seriously get THAT big?)
to crabs, shellfish, prawns and baby sardines.
live or dead, fresh or frozen. There was plenty of choice.
And of course the tuna.
Due to various problems that have arisen due to the volume of tourists coming to see the tuna auction, the market has put some restrictions into place. Understandably. This is a place dealing with food. Hygiene does need to be maintained!
Tourists aren’t allowed to enter certain areas (the wholesale areas) of the market and they can only watch the tuna auction from a designated area between 5:00am and 6:15am. Only 120 visitors are allowed to watch the auction and the tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis from the information center (the one we stumbled across) which is on the 1st floor of the “The Fish Information Center”.
We weren’t there that early, but we saw plenty of tuna:
…being wrapped in newspaper
To smaller ones being sold on.
Overall, I found the visit rather interesting yet very disturbing.
There were still fish and shellfish alive (some more than others). One fish was still moving despite it being slit in 3 places. There were tanks holding fish, obviously destined for the restaurants that specialize in ‘Choose-Your-Own’. Crabs and prawns in polystyrene containers, still moving.
Then there is the environmental side of it:
How long can the ocean sustain such a harvest if this is happening on a daily basis?
When fish are being harvested as babies?
Polystyrene being the Go-To choice of containers for shipping?
I came away with real mixed feelings.
I’m glad I went and I’m glad that I didn’t have my children with me.
I have also been reminded about the importance of wise, sustainable choices when it comes to our food and being good stewards of our planet.
Tsukiji Fish Market is a 5 minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibuya Line.