Bluefin Tuna at Tsukiji Market
Back in December, before we went to Tsukiji Market, we were all prepared to wake up at 1:30 am to get in line to view the tuna auction, but it turns out that December is a touristy month so they closed the tuna auction to tourists. Could you imagine our disappointment when we found out the day before?!
Thankfully, when the inner market opened to the public at 9 am, the first thing we saw was the unloading of some frozen bluefin tuna that had been auctioned off earlier that morning.
I watched in amazement as the man hauled these gigantic frozen fish, each costing at least a couple thousand at the cheapest. When he finished loading them onto this motorized cart, he zoomed off in a hurry. I couldn't believe how fast these things go and the skill it must take to drive one of these through the maze of people and seafood stalls.
In the inner market, there is probably more seafood than you will ever see in your life. I'm pretty sure this area itself is larger than a couple football fields. There was styrofoam box after styrofoam box filled with all sorts of marine animals, most of which I had never seen before, much less consume. The ground was covered in a layer of liquid that probably consisted of fresh water, salt water, and all sorts of fishy juices. But the most surprising part was the lack of that distinct, unpleasant fishy smell. So can you imagine how fresh all this stuff is?
As we were walking through this expansive market, one of the stalls caught my eye. While most other places had cutting boards and styrofoam boxes, I saw a giant stainless steal container. When I peaked in, I saw the most beautiful cuts of bluefin tuna I had ever seen. How could you not stare at a presentation like this?!
Further down, I saw a bluefin tuna, sitting on the cutting board. And then I saw the tuna butcher take out what I thought looked like a traditional sword that you would see in the movies or maybe hang on your wall. And then he got to work. He sliced over and over again with such little effort that I wondered what it feels like to cut into a fish that was just purchased for thousands of dollars.
And finally, he finished, leaving just a carcass behind.
At another stop, we watched as an older man delicately cleaned the fish he had just cut and pack it away with care. Watching his swift but meticulous hand movements really made us realize the respect the fishmongers have for their products. Looking at the faces of the other men working with him, this was clearly a family business. I hope that this man's dedication to his trade is passed down through the generations, even when Tsukiji has moved to its new location.
And finally, it was good to see that nothing goes to waste.
- Check the Tsukiji Market calendar for the days that the market is actually open.
- If you want to view the tuna auction, read the rules. I would highly suggest going!
- Go before November 2, 2016, as this traditional market will close its doors to move to the controversial new location in the Toyosu District of Koto Ward.
- Wear closed toed shoes, preferably waterproof ones...
- Stay out of the way of the people working in Tsukiji - it's efficient, and everyone is moving at a fast pace!