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Wednesday, May 7

How I Fulfilled My Brother’s Only Japanese Wish

Ever since my mom’s visit here last summer, my brother has hung on to one particular picture that she took while in Japan. It was a shot of the local fish market just down the street from our house. Obviously that place was easy to show him since we walk past it every time we walk to the train station. But he had his sights set on something bigger… Tsukiji Fish Market.

Set in central Tokyo, Tsukiji is one of the largest fish markets in the world. Now, Kimono Hubby and I have had this place on our ‘must visit’ list since we first moved here, but little will ever motivate me to get up as early as one would need from Zushi so as to arrive at a good time... which would be any time after 5:00 am, but before 8:00 am when the market closes for the day. But as we were in Tokyo for the weekend, it was the perfect opportunity for us to cross something off our list and to fulfill my brother’s only Japanese sight wish.

Being only a few stops away when staying at the New Sanno, we left a little before 6:00 am on Saturday morning. Traveling in the city at this time is quite a sight in itself, as my brother got to see. On the walk to the train station, we passed multiple people on their way home from festivities the night prior… some noticeably still drunk and others noticeably hungover. At the train station, we came across more than a few Japanese business men, all still in the complete suit they wore the day before, but now it was stuck to the floors of the subway tunnels. Most when finding themselves in this situation used their briefcase as a pillow, although one poor guy simply laid his face down on the cold, dirty tile as he slept it off. What does all this have to do with Tsukiji, you ask? Well… nothing. But it was damn funny.

Moving on, so leaving the station we walked out only to find ourselves in a very unknown part of the city. Fortunately, there was a map in front of us, which we hoped would direct us enough to find this massive fish market. As we stood debating, some Australian guy came over to us to ask if we were looking for the fish market. If so, we need only turn the corner and there it lay. His tip before we sauntered off? “Keep your head up!” Before we ever came under the cover of the first warehouse roof, we knew what he meant. Little motorized truck carts powered every which direction. If you weren’t paying attention for the slightest second, you were quite likely to lose a toe or worse. Our Australian friend had allotted us a very kind tip.

Of course, we have no idea which way to go so we just kept going back deeper into the maze of trucks and fish. Alleyways, which were barely wide enough for two people to walk side by side in, saw these truck carts forcing their way down them, shoving people out of the way as they went. The market is a place of serious business and they do ask you to stay out of the way and not touch anything. We did as they asked, but it was almost impossible when people and trucks were coming at you from every direction.

We meandered aimlessly for a few hours watching them carve massive frozen and fresh tunas, which would surely be sold that day in hundreds of local sushi shops and restaurants. My personal favorite was to view the fish that lay in pools of blood. Oh, and the octopus that lay in pools of ink. Yum. Even just writing this now, I can’t help but feel like that heavy fish aroma has just permeated right back into my nostrils to stay there for the rest of today.

Unfortunately, tourists can no longer go early for the tuna auctions as one too many used to get in the way. That surely would have been a sight to see. Nonetheless, if you want to see local action while you are here, Tsukiji is the place to see.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

He is still talking about that fish market!