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Tsukiji Tuna Auction & Shinjuku


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_14319878671003.jpgWaiting for the tuna auction.
The alarm rang at 0240. I got ready quickly and walked in the drizzle to the Tsukiji Fish Market’s Fish Information Centre. There were about 10 people waiting for me in the queue at 0300. We were each given a high-viz jerkin to indicate that we had been confirmed into one of the 120 slots for visiting the auction (split into into two groups).

We were ushered into small waiting room where we sat on the floor waiting to be led into the tuna area at 0500. I had the cheeky idea of going back across the road to my hotel room for a lie down but this wasn’t permitted.

A little before 0500, we were led into the tuna area. There were rows of frozen whole tuna laid out on the floor. Each one had a small slice that had been carved out near the tail. Nearby, there was a table of these slices available for inspection (labelled to match the fish which it came from).large_5550_1431987873860.jpgTuna up for inspection and auction later.

The inspection process consisted of looking at those slices, looking at the fish, hooking a small piece out of the tail cross-section. The small piece obtained would be rolled around in the fingers and/or put into the mouth to check the texture and flavour (I guess). I saw them spit it out into a bucket but one tester did it on to the floor.

Then came the auction. I didn’t get a good view but it was no different from any auction with the rambling of numbers; that part was pretty uneventful. The first auction of 2015 saw a 180 kg tuna sell for a relatively low price of JPY4.51 million (about USD38000, or USD211/kg). Soon, our allocated 20 minuteswas up and we had to make way for the second group.

The intermediate wholesale area wasn’t open for visitors till 0900.large_5550_14319878774546.jpgTuna up for inspection and auction later.So, I walked back to the hotel through the outer market area where shops were open for sushi. I wasn’t hungry yet but I was tired enough to grab about 3 hours snooze from 0600.

Back at the intermediate wholesale area around 1000, things were quietening down. Some stalls were washing up but I got enough of an idea. Fish, roe, crabs, squid, prawns etc. To be honest, I thought Busan’s fish market was more interesting and had more unusual stuff that I hadn’t seen before.

In the afternoon, I explored the Shinjuku area. There were the usual shops, department stores, pachinko parlours and in the Kabuki-cho red light district, girlie bars. I had a picnic lunch from the convenience store in Shinjuku Park.
After lots of wandering and resting, I was back in my hotel completely exhausted around 2200.

After a couple of days in Tokyo [Tokyo-travel-guide-285666], I had come to the conclusion that the world’s largest urban area isn’t as expensive as most would think. Hotels, food, shopping and transport are cheaper than in New Zealand but this is helped to some extent by the strong Kiwi dollar for now.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Japan

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