Tsujuki Fish Market

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Japan  ,
Monday, November 13, 2006

One more shot. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. this time. We decided we didn't need to see the auction that starts the day. We just wanted to see the stalls of vendors selling to the dealers and the displays of every kind of seafood on the planet. We did the same walk as the day before, but it wasn't nearly as cold. And when we arrived at the docks they were alive with a beehive of activity (I know everyone uses the beehive analogy, but it really works. Maybe next time I'll go with ants, or water buffalo, or angry three-toed sloths...or maybe I'll just use bees again).

So people were buzzing around the docks (see, I did it again). As we approached, I found it shocking that they allowed tourists to wander around this place. It's insane. There's really no reason to do so. They don't charge admission, people aren't going to buy 300 pound tuna and drag them back to their hotels, there are no displays or souveneirs really. It's just a giant fish market. And it's busy. And we were in the way. At least they didn't let us bother them. They drove their vans and fork lifts and motorcycles and flat bed vehicles at full speed and just assumed we would get out of the way. And we always did, if only barely. But as we made our way toward the sellers' stalls, frogger like, I couldn't figure out how this could possibly be an acceptable place to peruse. It's like having people explore an active coal mine, with no hard hat or tour guide - just setting them free to bump around the caves, constantly a danger to themselves and others.

But once we entered the sales area as opposed to transportation and shipping, it got a little easier. It was just row after row of slimy creatures of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I felt a little guilty snapping photos of every strange item and muttering things like, "Good Christ! Can you believe they eat this stuff???" Then I'd accidentally make eye contact with a vendor and force and akward smile, point at the bloody eel in front of me, which was clearly taking it's last breath, and I'd nod and rub my stomach in the international sign for delicious. But my green face and involontary gagging belied my distate for their wares. But what are you gonna do?

So we wandered around for an hour or so, investigating every new color of octopus we found, discussing how we only recognized a fifth of the animals we saw displayed, and wondering which of these things we had eaten our first night in Tokyo. I also decided that if people were forced to meet their food this early in the process, just after it has been captured and while it still looks just as it did while it was living (often it still was), then people might eat more vegetables. Broccoli never flopped out of it's bin onto the floor and wriggled around at my feet in a slow and obviously miserable death. But wouldn't it be cool if it did?

We left the market glad we had visited it but without much desire to ever return. From there it was off to our last major destination in Tokyo - the Imperial Palace.
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