Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tsukiji Fish Market

We set out on Saturday morning for the Tsukiji Fish Market.  Despite it being best known for the early morning tuna auction, we opted not to get up at 3:00 AM.  Instead, we left our hotel around nine for a rainy 10-minute walk to see the market's leftovers.

We crossed a pedestrian bridge that provided views like this:

Our hotel is the tan building between the two blue signs on the left.  You can barely make out the famous Tokyo Tower above the vanishing point.

We arrived at the market to find workersin full swing, zipping around on loading trucks with curved metal bumpers on front.  Once I saw how quickly they zipped around on those things, the bumpers made a lot of sense.

The first views of the market were towers of styrofoam.

Once we got inside the fish section, though, there were still vendors, fish, and tourists to see.

Walking through these aisles felt akin to walking through a haunted house.  I had to actively suppress my fears and reassure myself that something unexpected was not going to reach out an grab me.  Something tentacled or spiny or with suction cups, wriggling and slithering its way up my arm or leg...

It's terrifying, really; especially when we'd see creatures twitching or crawling about on their literal deathbeds. I'd imagine them shrieking for help in inaudible tones, and then I'd quickly shut that thought down because, no.  I'm not going to get through this thinking like that.  So I took pictures instead.  Here's just a few:

We came upon a tall, thin, and blonde Scandinavian couple being offered samples of fresh tuna by two fishongers.  Straggly brunettes that we are, we latched right on to that moment and siddled up for a bit of the action.  The guys kindly hacked a hunk of flesh from the fish's head and offered us each a piece.

Once we reached the end of the fish market, we manned our umbrellas to duck across the parking to the fruits and vegetables:

It was much calmer here, both by way of crowds and my heart palpitations.

The produce was gorgeous.  Mari, our cooking instructor, told us how precious fruit is here.  Her grandmother has (lives by?) a cherry orchard, and she described going there to help with the harvest.  They have a set of molds to fit each cherry in - small, medium, large.  Each fruit they picked was measured for size and then set in the corresponding box.  Any fruit that does not fit the mold or is misshappen, like double cherries, is eaten by the workers on the spot.  

Fruit, when it is sold in Japan, is very expensive and packaged, as Mari said, "like jewels in a box."

Look at the baby pineapples!

And the enormous soybeans and carrots (you can see my toes at the bottom for comparison):

They even had flowere blossoms packaged for cooking:

We looked quickly through the outer markets where they sell kitchen supplies, then hopped in a cab to head to Omote-sando.

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