Five years ago, we went to the Tsukiji Fish Market to experience the tuna auction. However, we made a huge mistake of not checking the schedule. The auction was canceled because of the March 11 earthquake. The tuna auction is often listed as one of the must-do things in Tokyo. And with the news of the market’s possible relocation at the end of the year, we again decided to give it a go.
a giant tuna
from wasabi-green sea to
a pool of soy sauce
There are certain guidelines to be followed. Gates open at 230 am and the market will only accept 120 persons (60 persons per batch). The first batch will enter the auction area at 525 am for 25 minutes. That would mean you have more or less 3 hours to wait. You can either sleep, or play PokemonGo. Since no train is available at this time, we spent the night in one of the family restaurants nearby and went to the market at 240 am. To our surprise, we were visitor number 57 and 58 already, almost missing the cut-off of the first batch.
While at the waiting area, one of the tuna traders, Mr. Kose, entertained us with his stories and experiences. He said that the quality of tuna can be checked by touching the meat. Working for 19 years gave him the confidence in evaluating the tuna. And he stressed out that he never got bored with his job. Even once. Impressive.
The area allotted to the visitors is quite limited though. It is understandable since the auction is a normal business activity especially to tuna traders. This is not a show, what you see is a real Japanese culture. At some point, I wished I was a part of the second batch so that I can have a better spot in taking photos. Flash photography by the way is strictly prohibited as it may disrupt the bidding activities.
We went back to the family restaurant while waiting for the fish market area to open at 10 am. That’s how dedicated we are when it comes to photography. A bit sleepy but we managed to stay awake. To be honest, the market is not that busy anymore at 10 am. Only a few stalls have some fish and tuna. Some of them are friendly, but there are some who shoo the tourists right away. Still I was able to capture the art of slicing tuna.
It’s been a long day especially after you found out that the Tsukiji Market relocation was postponed to a later date. According to some tuna traders, a kilo of good quality tuna may cost up to 40,000 yen (400 USD).
We deserved some fresh sliced tuna. A cheap one will do for our empty stomachs and empty wallets. We might go back again this year. We might.
Photos taken with
lens: 18 – 300 mm VR