Tsukiji Fish Market
May 4, 2008, 12:23 pm
Filed under: travel

Carving up the tuna

Originally uploaded by cobismith.

A guy asked me though Flickr:

I noticed you just recently went through the fish market in Tokyo. Did you have any problems getting in, or taking photos? I heard they’ve been cracking down lately on tourists going in there. Anyway, any suggestions/advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


I had no idea they were cracking down on tourists in the Tokyo fish market, but since John mentions it, in fact the shops within the market were downright rude. I’m not talking the fish mongers or sellers (they were indifferent) or those in the streets around the market (they were desperate to get our business), only the ones actually within the market itself. Most of them actually had ‘Japanese people only’ in their windows.

This was most unfortunate as I’d dragged my partner up at 5am to go to the markets when he was maybe still a little drunk from the night before. On the train in the heat he was getting nauseous – when we hit the market with its fishy aromas he was not going well. So we were looking for coffee and some type of breakfast.

Amongst these rows of downright hostile shops there was one that had the word ‘coffee’ (in English) on the window, so we thought we could go inside. We did, there were a few old Japanese guys having breakfast in there. The old lady behind the counter ignored us for a while until it became clear we weren’t planning on going away empty-handed. Places like this our complete lack of Japanese language skills hurt. Thankfully the guy next to us was having coffee and toast and with some help from our phrase book and gestures she understood we wanted the same thing. It came out, and we were charged some exorbitant amount. We were frustrated but in situations like that you’ve just got to pay tourist prices.

With no longer empty bellies we ventured out into the market, gazing about, taking photos and generally getting in the way of people going about their business.

I was kind of surprised going to the Tsukiji Fish Market is in all the guide books because it’s not an easy thing to do. It was exciting and interesting but certainly not pleasant. On a couple of occasions I almost got fish guts and blood all over me, with people rushing about. And we almost got run over by a few trucks too.

That said looking back it’s one of my highlights of my trip to Toyko. Seeing sushi being cut out of the fish is pretty cool.


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