Monday, June 6, 2011

Tsukiji Fish Market

In early March 2011, we visited Tsukiji-Fish-Market in Tokyo. It is the largest fish-market in the world and evolved into a famous tourist attraction. It’s shaped like a quarter-circle, located directly at the Tokyo-bay. The circle is divided into several rings, where the fish is unloaded from trawlers at the periphery and prepared and sold at the outer ring. In the inner ring, the fish is loaded on trucks. In the centre are shops and restaurants and additional loading zones. It’s a very busy place, especially in the early morning, when the new freight arrives. Actually, tourists are not allowed to enter the fish-market except of the centre before 9:00 am. The rules are not that strict and nobody hinders you from going there earlier, but you should remind that this is not a tourist place but a place where people have to do serious business. So don’t come in large groups and leave large bags at home. And take care not to stand in the way of someone and particularly take care of the scooters which are dashing between the stalls. It is commonly known that the pilots enjoy hunting careless tourists. 

Especially the tuna-auction has become very popular by (foreign) tourist. It became so popular that they had to restrict the visits, because the tourist mob hindered the business or even damaged the expensive frozen tunas; each tuna has a value of some thousand Euros. Now they allow only two guided groups of 70 people to see the auction. One tour starts at 5, the other at 6 o’clock in the morning. It is well visited so you would better be there at 4 o’clock. That’s at least what I’ve heard. It was way too early for us, so we decided to go there to a more humane time, at about 7:30 am. At this time, the small restaurants in the central area are already open and you can have a good sushi-breakfast with the freshest sushi you will ever get (price from 1000 – 5000 Yen). The best (and normally most expensive) shops are easily to find because of the long queues in front of them. We chose a nice middle-priced restaurant with a queue that was not to long, but still long enough to indicate that the sushi there was worth its price.
At around 8:30 am, we started to explore the fish-market. At this time, it was still quite busy, even when most of the large customers already made their business. I never saw so many different kinds of fish and seafood like on this day. It is almost like visiting an aquarium, except most of the fish is dead or close before. Indeed, it can be a little disturbing for people how are not used to see where the food they eat comes from and how it is prepared. But for everyone else (and also for those people), it is interesting to see and I can really recommend everyone to visit Tsukiji-Fish-Market. If you want more pictures, click here.

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