Originally set to be moved to a shiny modern complex next year, the wonderfully chaotic and happily old-school Tsukiji fish market has been granted a stay of execution due to soil contamination at the new location. Findings that unsurprisingly have heaped considerably more criticism on an already contentious decision.
However, while Tsukiji in its current form may live on for another year, it’s a very different story for the dazzling array of sea dwellers that arrive at the market. None of which are more representative of Tsukiji than the tuna; a fact proven by the recent hoopla surrounding this month’s record breaking first auction of the year which saw a bluefin sell for a staggering 155 million yen.
Huge, initially quite startling beasts, that are carefully cut up with equally impressive knives.
A fascinating procedure that is as time consuming as it is time-honoured.
With the end result being fabulously glistening raw meat, and the considerably less appealing looking carcasses.
I had no idea there was talk of moving the market! Now I really wish we’d made the effort to go while I was there last April. Beautiful shots from what could have easily been a more gruesome event. Thanks as always!
Thanks a lot!
Yes, it has been in the works for a while now. I understand the need for a move, as it really is showing its age. But at the same time, it’s arguably the grottiness and rundown nature of the place that makes it what it is. The new one will be Tsukiji in name only.
Hans ter Horst says
And there went the last tuna 🙂
(I do like the little maze of tiny shops around the market, and not to forget the fabulous sushi in some of these restaurants)
Same here. In fact those little alleyways were what I originally went to photograph. Luckily though there was still a good bit of activity in the market for me to get these shots.
An Expat says
A word for those who may mistakenly believe parts like the head are cast aside; they aren’t. I’ve only seen it on TV, but the head is stewed and the meat then gently removed with chopsticks and eaten hot.
Yeah, there’s very little wasted. Not surprising either considering how much they sell for. Or how much they are revered.
Ken C says
I’ve eaten the heads in Tokyo and the meat is delicious
I like the third picture most!
I have not been to Tsukiji market before. I do not know if I dare to watch them cutting the fish. My heart almost skipped a beat when I saw the last picture. 🙂
Yeah, he was quite a character. He also told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want any more photos taken!
It’s definitely worth a visit. Absolutely fascinating place. It’s not really gruesome either. I’m very squeamish, but it didn’t bother me at all.
Agreed – Andrew Zimmern did a show with a stop in a place near Kanagawa: http://www.kurobatei.com/ where the chef uses nearly every part of the tuna.
Cheers for the link.
Not always that appealing looking, but yeah, there’s very little that goes to waste.
Great images. I don’t know whyy but really like the last shot.
Cheers! Yeah, there’s a certain sadness about it. The head just left on the floor.
Wow, that’s a pretty big fish!
Yeah, that was my reaction when I first saw a tuna. Not at all what I was expecting.
Katie T. says
All I see is OM NOM NOM
I prefer it cut up nicely on a plate, or combined nicely with rice before I can think like that!
I’ve always wanted to know more about the “swords” they use to cut up the really big fish, as pictured here. While they’re not family samurai swords, they resemble them in length and curve. If memory serves, such heirlooms must be locked up, but I would hazard a guess that in the many generations of fish mongers that there are similarly prized cutting implements. Lee, do you know anything about them?
Yeah, I expect they are prized possessions handed down from genera ration to generation. Both for their meaning and value â€“ I can only imagine how much they cost.
Unfortunately I don’t know much about them, but I do recall my father-in-law telling me that people need a license to own one, just like they do with a traditional sword. Makes sense too considering their size.
Great posting Lee. Are the people in Nippon concerned about mercury content in the tuna meat ? I only ask because here in the States tuna is frequently mentioned in health related articles.
Not that I’m aware off. Of course it’s well known that you shouldn’t be eating it everyday, but most people can’t afford to anyway, so it’s not really an issue.
I usually don’t like it when men holding large knives look at me that way…
Me neither. And even more so with that fella, as he wasn’t exactly Mr Jolly…
Nice shots as always! I thought you’d want to know that a blog hosted at wordpress.com has reprinted this article and your photos:
Just got some link notifications for a bunch of pieces taken from our website at Nippon.com and I’ve asked the blogger to take them down; you might want to do the same.
Thanks a lot, Durf. I’ll get in touch with them as well.