Welcome back to Japan!
Ueno at some point
was it's own town, mearly close to Edo (now Tokyo). Eventually it
was absorbed into mega city, but it still retains many of the city
properties you like to see. Like a market! Turns out being
close to the Ueno train station (which is a shinkansen station, a stop
on the train from the airport and a pretty good subway stop) was a
really good idea so we started our Tokyo adventure here.
Under one of the elevated rail lines near the station is a market
called Ameya Yokocho (roughly candy store alley). To get our
shopping brain engaged, we took a brief walk down the alley.
a nice food market with lots of
not a lot of tourist junk. Tons of Pachinco places. This
doesn't strike me as a neighborhood where a lot of locals walk over,
but I guess enough people go shopping to keep the place busy.
Helen knew this great soba
place in Asakusa, so we
decided to get lunch before her shopping began. Completely
to us, just down the street is Sensō-ji - a temple complex with massive
red lanterns to mark the entrance. We walked down to
investigate. Turns out it's a school trip shopping mecca, but
they have really good sembei
- freshly toasted rice
crackers. Sembei is one of those foods I've found everywhere I've
traveled in Japan.
The market area in front of the temple and shrines was much busier that
the temple itself. They had an incense burner, but unlike Hong
Kong, it seems uncommon for people to bring their own Incense to light
and pray with. Also unlike Hong Kong, people here seem to enjoy
getting a bit of smoke in their eyes - it's considered a good luck
Tsujiki Fish Market
The last time I was in Tokyo, I visited the
Market. Well, not really - I took the subway to get there so I
arrived well after the Tuna Auction occurred and I didn't actually know
where the Market was so I wandered around the outer market for way long
than you would if you knew where things were. This time we came
prepared. Our hotel (with a 24 hour front desk) ordered a taxi
for us. We arrived half an hour before the auction and since I
knew the general layout of the market, we got to the auction area with
enough time to actually get in and setup.
The funny thing is it was almost for
Tsujiki market is now squarely on the tourist "to do" list. Rough
Guide lists it as the #3 on the "Things Not To Miss" list. Buses
of tourists show up now. About a month before we went, a tourist
reached out and touched an unsold tuna and a minor tempest was
released. The market was closed to tourists (apparently
permanently) and notices went up. After about a month (about a
week before we arrived) the policy changed, but there was now a roped
in "tourist" gallery and "minders" to ensure we behaved
ourselves. Sadly, it's all necessary.
The floor is organized into columns of fish, apparently by size
and perhaps by other factors. The Auction began with the loud
ringing of hand bells and then three teams of auctioneer and recorder
started auctioning the fish in front of them. The auctions are
pretty quick - 20 fish are sold is less 10 minutes. The
auctioneer move to the next column of fish, ring the bell for about a
minute (drawing a new crowd of buyers) and then start selling.
The auctioneer is yells and gestures widely. Soon enough, he is
done and moves on.
In about half an hour all of the fish were sold and the buyers left the
room. The fish were marked with the winners (either by a piece of
paper that froze onto the surface, or thin red paint painted on the
side). Teams of movers came in and loaded up hand carts with fish.
The fish then moves out into the market.
fish is cut with a band saw into smaller chunks which might be thawed
by dumping into pails of water. Fresh fish moves to butchers with
knives as long as swords who start cutting the meat into the specific
cuts buyers are looking for.
there the cuts are put out in bins and buyers
select cuts and mass and fish is sold. When the pieces get small
they are given a fixed price.
Tuna may be the rock star fish around
this is a full service market - all sorts of seafood is sold.
I've been through the seafood part of
the Tsujiki market
before and I must admit I took a better job
then. (Might have something to do with my travel mates desperatly
wanting to eat sushi at the restaurants in the Market and then getting
back to the hotel for a nap before we took the train to Gunma
Tags: Tokyo(10), Japan(10), fish market(5), market(4), fish(4), temple(1)
People: Mark(1), Helen(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Fourth Trip to Japan > Tokyo
From: John Harvey Photo > A Fourth Trip to Japan > Tokyo
...great photos, I must try to get to the fish markets one day, were all your Tsukuji photos taken from behind the tourist rope?
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at 07:20:27
> were all your Tsukuji photos taken from behind the tourist rope?
They were firm about the rope before and during the auction. After the auction, the tourists ran away and if you were respectful, I'm sure you could have walked in. I took pictures from the open garage doors.
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:38:02 Edit
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