Monday, November 17, 2008

Japan: Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan

Talk about waking up early to see a fish market! The Tsukuji Fish Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. So don't be surprised if this fish market has become a big tourist attraction. We had wanted to see the world-famous Tsukiji fish auctions but we learned they stopped allowing tourists at the auctions early this year due to health concerns and to avoid any disruptions in operations and other trading activities.

Besides, we could not leave the youth hostel we were staying at before 6 a.m. since they had a curfew. Doors were locked from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. After the conference, we vacated our five star hotel (sigh!) and transferred to the Sumidagawa Youth Hostel on the opposite side of town. A bed here was ¥3600 a night. But members of Hostelling International get a ¥600 discount.

Anyway, we were out of the hostel a little past 6 a.m. If you're going around Tokyo for a day, it would be convenient to get the one day subway ticket which is ¥710. If you want to include the JR Line in your day pass, you'll have to shell out a little bit more. From the Asakusabashi Station, we were at the Tsukiji Station in no time.

The main market of Tsukiji is about a kilometer from the subway station. On the way to the inner market, you'll pass by Tsukiji's outer market filled with wholesale and retail shops that sell seafood and other food items, kitchen tools, and restaurant supplies, and restaurants that sell sushi and other Japanese delights. You'll have to come early since shops in the outer market are closed by the afternoon, and those in the inner market even earlier!

At Tsukiji, the first thing that greeted us was the constant traffic of forklifts and small vehicles moving about. The scene looked like it was pulled out of a Star Wars movie! We walked about enjoying the different seafood on sale. The fish market is said to handle more than 400 different types of seafood from tiny sardines to 300-kilogram tuna, from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar!

After exploring a good part of Tsukiji, we heard our stomachs rumble and it was time for breakfast. On the menu was sushi of course! We got ourselves some breakfast sushi boats which range from ¥1000 to ¥2000 each. After that sumptuous seafood feast, we made our way back to the youth hostel to catch up on sleep before our 10 a.m. checkout.

Part 1: Konichiwa from Tokyo, Japan!
Part 3: Tokyo is a candidate city for the 2016 Olympics
Part 4: Sensō-ji Temple in the Asakusa District (Taitō, Tokyo)
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