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Ken Zaret | profile | all galleries >> World Galleries >> Dawn at Tokyo Fish Market tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Dawn at Tokyo Fish Market

Tsukiji: Where the tuna auctions begin by 5 am and end by 7 am, six mornings a week. No problem getting up at 4:30 am, because you aren't sleeping anyway with the jet lag. Half an hour to get there, via the subway to the Ginza district and then a long walk to the docks. Rock-hard frozen tuna lay on the ground, filling up an area about the size of a football field. There are different areas for different sized fish, from medium-sized tuna to humongous ones, much bigger in bulk than a big man. The fishes' tail are cut open to reveal the color and texture of the meat, and wholesalers with flashlights use car-tool-like hooks to chop away at the meat and examine bits up close. Then each tuna in an area of the market is held on auction. The other half of the market is extremely crowded, filled with stalls exhibiting and trimming all kinds of sea creatures for consumption. Many of the animals are still alive; moving slowly, to no avail. It is noisy, chilly, and lit by off-color fluorescent tubes. People are everywhere and propane-powered mini-fork lifts cruise through the narrow walkways. It's up to you to get out of their way.