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While on a recent visit to Tokyo, I spent four mornings exploring and taking photos of Tsukiji, the world famous seafood market. The highlight of the market for many is the famous tuna auction, which in the last decade has actually become a huge tourist destination. During each of my visits there were at least a hundred or more visitors, standing in the way, taking photos (often with flash, although very large signs asked that people not do this), and posing with the fish. Tiny forklifts are constantly buzzing by at breakneck speed, and the floor is very slippery--clearly not a place for tourists. Being Japanese, the bidders and auctioneers involved in the market were typically polite, but I could sense their frustration. In recent years this madness has reached tipping point, and there's word that since April this part of the market should now be closed to tourists.
As shown above and below, there are several expansive rooms lined with fresh and frozen tuna:
From about 5-6am the potential buyers carefully inspect the tuna, making notes:
and often tasting and smelling the tuna (spitting the meat out on the floor, to my surprise). When inspections are done, a bell rings and the auction takes place:
The highest bidders take their wares off to the interior of the market to be cut and prepared:
This was fascinating, but there's a lot more at Tsukiji than tuna. The entire market covers several cold and wet warehouses:
encompassing virtually every kind of seafood imaginable, from beautiful shrimp:
Apparently the entire market is slated to move to another part of town in the next couple years, and will, I've heard, not be as open as the current one.
The entire photoset can be seen here.