If you are in Tokyo, you need to visit Tsukiji fish market for the tuna fish auction. It can be quite a challenge because there are only two sessions each morning on days that they allow visitors and there is a limit of 150 people per session.
If you are aiming for the first session, you would need to wake up around 1-2 am in the morning – and make your way there somehow because there is no train service in the early morning hours. (My friends camped there overnight on their trip). The latest you should be there is around 4;30 and you are already playing with your luck. We arranged our accommodation to be within the walking distance from the market and reached there around 4:30 and were the last! Imagine the disappointment of the next group arrived in less than 5 seconds later than us and they didn’t get the slots because it is already hit the 150 limit.
So, you may ask – does it worth all the trouble? Depends. If you are a huge fan of all things Japan or looking for unique travel experience, absolutely! But one very good reason to wake up early to go to Tsukiji fish market is for their sushi – Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai (Or any other shop in that matter!). I will cover more on this later in a later post.
When we formed up a line and marched into the market to the auction house, everyone is excited to witness the famous auction taking place.
It was many months later that I watched a documentary on Tsukiji tuna auction that all the tuna are fished using fishing rod and not any other methods. And if the tuna fish got stressed during the fishing, the taste of the meat is no longer tasty anymore, so it is the job of the auctioneers to check and taste the fish before allowing their customers (restaurants) to bid in the auctions.
When the tuna is bought (won through the auction), extremely long knives are used to sliced off the fish and all the slicing must be done through a single stroke. So, cutting the fish is a form of art itself.
This motorized car/cart/trolley is the main form of transporting goods across the market and the shops nearby. Being known as one of the most (if not the most) market in the world, you will see many of these rushing around in the market, they are probably one of the meanest people you would come across in Japan.
After visiting once, I am not so sure if I would want to visit again but visiting the market, seeing the auction and having one of the yummiest sushi, it is a great highlight of the trip.