Fresh sushi and sharp knives catch Santha Oorjitham’s eyes as she strolls around the world’s largest fish wholesale market in Tokyo
THE world’s largest fish and seafood wholesale market, Tsukiji, is in central Tokyo, about 10-20 minutes’ walk from the Ginza Metro station.
For many visitors, it’s a “must see” — now more than ever, since the 77-year-old market is going to be relocated. According to Wikipedia, construction at the new site in Toyosu in eastern Koto ward will begin next year and the move should be in 2014.
My flight lands long after the tuna auction between 5.30am and 7am that takes places daily at the market.
As soon as I’ve checked into my hotel, Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Truong Uy and I take our first trip on the Tokyo Metro, emerging into a blustery spring day.
Many pedestrians are wearing face masks since they have allergies to the pollen floating in the air, but they’re happy to point us in the right direction.
We don’t make it to the inner market where the auction and fish-processing are done. The shops here begin to shut down at 11am and the market closes for cleaning at 1pm.
But we stroll around the outer market, learning quickly to watch out for numerous cyclists who aren’t ringing their bells as they speed past.
Here are restaurants offering sushi and noodles and shops selling anything from kitchen utensils such as knives (sharpened while you wait) and umbrellas to stationery and fruit, pickles, pastries and savouries.
A retail market, about a quarter of the size of the present market, will stay in Tsukiji when the wholesale section moves. And the proprietors in the outer market don’t appear worried about their future.
“It will only be 10 minutes away by car,” shrugs Sadanobu Ishikawa, owner of Tsukiji Aosora restaurant, as his chef translates. “I will stay here.”
Understandably, it’s hard to say sayonara to this grand old market.
The writer’s visit was courtesy of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.