Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo

During Chuseok vacation Krista and I went to Tokyo for a few nights. We stayed with Aja, a friend Krista knew in college. Aja teaches Chemistry at an international school in Tokyo and she graciously offered us a place to stay while we were there. Hopefully she comes to Seoul to visit us as well!

The biggest highlight of our trip was the Tsukiji Fish Market. The area is divided in to two large areas – the inner market and outer market. The inner area is the licensed wholesale market, this is where the auctions take place, as well as most processing of the fish. Here there are approximately 900 dealers operating small stalls.

The outer market is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries and seafood. There are numerous restaurants as well, the majority being sushi restaurants.

The market handles over 400 different types of seafood from tiny sardines to 300kg tuna. It is open most mornings except Sundays and holidays. At 3am shipments from planes, trucks and ships are unloaded from all over the world. The auctions start around 5:20 am and bidding can only be done by licensed participants. We woke up around 4:30 am and made it to the market around 6:00 am to see the live tuna auctions.

Tuna auction

Tsukiji Fish Market_08 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_05 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_07 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_03 [1600x1200]

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives, some over a metre in length.

The market is the busiest between 5:30 and 8:00 am, and the activity declines significantly afterward. Many shops start to close around 11:00 am, and the market closes for cleaning around 1:00 pm Tourists may visit the market daily between 5 a.m. and 6:15 am and watch from a designated area.

Giant scallops

Tsukiji Fish Market_01 [1600x1200]


Tsukiji Fish Market_02 [1600x1200]

Ice maker

Tsukiji Fish Market_16 [1600x1200]

Fresh tuna

Tsukiji Fish Market_12 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_13 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_14 [1600x1200]

After we finished walking around the market we decided to get some fresh sushi for breakfast. Neither of us have had sushi this amazing before! It was so fresh, and so was the price tag, but it was so worth it.

Tsukiji Fish Market_25 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_18 [1600x1200]

Krista ordered the Deluxe Sushi Set and I had the Donburi (tuna and salmon bowl)

Tsukiji Fish Market_17 [1600x1200]

Tuna and salmon bowl, miso soup, mild fatty tuna, natural red meat tuna, white fish, salmon roe, snow crab, boiled prawn, fresh clam, sweet sea eel, sweet egg omelette, hikarimono.

Tsukiji Fish Market_21 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_22 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_23 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_20 [1600x1200]

Tsukiji Fish Market_26 [1600x1200]

It was definitely the best sushi we have ever had! If you are a seafood lover and in Tokyo, I definitely recommend getting up early for a sushi breakfast!

Short video of the market (if you're viewing from email, click here to watch)