I groaned as my alarm clock went off at 5:00 in the morning. The sky was still pitch black but it was time to get up. Was it another day of drudgery at work? No! I was off to the morning market in Tsukiji!
Tsukiji is the main fish market in Tokyo and is something everyone should see and experience at least once. This is where all the restaurants, bars, sushi shops and any other store that sells anything resembling a fish have to start before serving you that octopus salad or whatever fishy thing it is you ordered. Every bit of seafood down to the smallest shrimp has to pass through here before finding its way to your stomach. Well ok there are a few other small markets but compared to Tsukiji they might as well not exist.
Anyway I managed to get out the door around 5:30 after having a quick shower and ended up in Tsukiji just before 6:30 where I met my friend Miki who I had managed to drag along on my little adventure with me.
Tsukiji is divided into 2 sections, the outer market and the inner market. The outer market is kind of ho-hum, just a bunch of small shops mainly selling sushi, sashimi and other fish/rice combinations. We passed through there pretty quickly to get to where the real action is, the inner market! To get inside, first you have to make your way through a maze of trucks, bicycles, carts, and other weird looking motorized vehicles that surround, and pass through every part of the market where the path is wide enough for more than two people. Not as easy as it looks as their are no traffic signs and the drivers are all more than willing to run you down like a dog.
After your brush with death, you quickly realize that even inside, the famous Japanese politeness and courtesy is nowhere in existence. Rough, grizzled fishmongers are rushing everywhere with important tasks to do, and seemingly quite unimpressed with, even contemptuous, of the tourists walking around in a leisurely pace examining the weird and wonderful things pulled from the seven seas. All manner of aquatic creatures both living or dead, whole or cut in half/pieces, can be seen. Tuna seems to make up the bulk of the market though. They can be seen everywhere, (but usually minus tails, gills and eyeballs) and frozen like lumps of blue/grey rock. Some of those suckers were bigger than a person!
Anyway looking at fish doesn't stay fun forever, and an hour of being aggressively elbowed out of the way loses its appeal even faster, so that's when you head back to the outer market and have a bowl of raw fish on rice for breakfast! I had the tuna bowl and Miki had a mix of a bunch of things, pass the wasabi!