Today at 3:30 am we rolled ourselves out of bed. Groggy eyed we got dressed, headed to the street, and found a taxi. Slowly we perked up as we made our way to the Tsukiji Fish Market. The market is well known for its tuna auctions. Men from shops all over the city come to the auctions which start at 5:20 each morning to bid for the day’s catch. They only allow 120 people each day into the viewing areas, so arriving early is key. We got there at 4:30 and there were already over 60 people there.
When it’s time for your tour to begin you must walk single file on the inner streets as men direct you through the busy traffic of carts and fork lifts whisking around the area carry boxes and boxes of food. Inside the auction area, hundreds of tuna are laying on the bidding floor. Sections of each fish are cut and shown on a table, where owners of shops inspect the fat content and weight of each tuna.
When it’s time for the auction to begin in that area of the floor, a bell is rung, the men gather around and begin to bid. The auctioneer looks for their hand signals and calls for each fish. When they’re finished in each area, another one quickly begins on the next section of floor, and the fish are hauled off and cut up. Each fish is said to go for 600,000-1,000,000 Yen (US$7,600-12,700.)
After the auctions, we wandered the streets around the market and found a place to get sushi breakfast. Three kinds of tuna, salmon, crab, octopus and more. The freshest fish I’ve ever had on a bed of wasabi and rice. We decided afterward to take a nap on a bench near the water taxis until they opened at 10 am, then we made our way back to the hostel via the river to recharge a little.