02/25/2007: "Tsukiji Fish Market and Nomihodai"
I'm smack dab in the middle of midterms. This passing friday marked the half-way point which called for a bit of adventure celebration. 14 or so other students from Temple had planned an all night Karaoke and Drinking party followed by a trip to the famous Tsukiji fish market. At the last minute I decided to attend.
Two of the other homestay students like myself who also live in Saitama were going. We all decided to meet up at the Shin-Koshigaya train platform and travel as a group to Ginza where everyone else was meeting.
The all-night Karaoke is called nomihodai, which translates to all-you-can-drink. Nomihodai is very popular around Tokyo due to the fact that last train service generally ends around midnight and many people don't want to call it quits that early. It is common to then decide to stay out all night with a group of friends until the first train service starts. Nomihodai is a popular choice because it gives you a place to stay from 11pm-5am with unlimited alcoholic beverages and karaoke for not too bad a price.
During our introduction to Temple, Kyle Cleveland, who runs the OIS (Office of Int'l Students), gave us several ideas of the more famous places to visit while touring Tokyo in our free time. The most difficult of which was the Tsukiji fish market. The largest open fish market in the world opens at 3am and hold auctions for the larger fish at 5am. The whole event ends by 6am, so the only way to see it is to stay out all night and walk to Tsukiji at 4:30am.
Karaoke in Japan is always in a private room for you and your party. You can order things from the room using the phone and they bring you food, drinks, etc. Here are some of the other students from America. Since we all ordered nomihodai, most everyone in this picture got pretty belingerent.
To choose your song, you used this hand held wifi remote. You could also put in orders from food using this. On the current screen we have the search function up in Japanese. This proved to be of little help since barely anyone knew any Japanese songs by their names.
On a trip to the bathroom, a random drunk Japanese man sitting on the stairs started talking to me. After about 5 minutes of slurred conversation he asked me and one other homestay student to go to his karaoke room to hang out with his friends. I said sure why not, I didn't know most the people in my room either. I ended up spending most the night with these Japanese people I didn't know. They all worked for a pharmaceutical company and were pulling an all night celebration with coworkers.
The guy in the back was very friendly, and loud. Good times were had by all. The man who took the picture spoke a little English and we actually took him to our room for a bit cause he wanted to practice his English with other native speakers. Overall, these people were uncommonly friendly and I really appreciated their hospitality. Like I said before, it seems many of the younger generation see us as a carnival attraction or a novelty.
Here's mr.drunk again. For some reason, he took off his shirt and installed a fuzzy vest. I really have no clue as to the reason why. They later invited me to a football game for next weekend with them, I hope I end up going. And by football I mean soccer, not american football. Once you're outside the United States you quickly learn the rest of the world really really loves soccer. Alot.
Heres the entrance to the all-night Karaoke bar we were at. The price for the whole evening with unlimited drinks per person was about $30. Not bad considering the cost of hotel or other all night venues such as clubs or bars.
Many of the Temple students we were with went home after the nomihodai leaving a smaller group of around 7 people to continue on to the Tsukiji fish market. Here we are walking through the streets of Ginza at 4:30am. It was super cold, around 40 degree Fereheit.
I snapped a group picture near the entrance to the Tsukiji market. We walked from Ginza to Tsukiji since trains weren't running that early.
That's what Tsukiji looks like from above during the daytime. The second picture is the main entrance to the market at 4:45am. Even this early in the morning, it is as busy as can be. Total chaos all around us as thousands of people rushed about moving fish and selling their catches.
The market it split up into two sections. The outside market where most of the several hundreds of booths are, and the inner market, where the world famous auction is held.
Here is what the inside of the auction house looks like. The biggest catches come into this room to be auctioned off to different registered bidders. The bigger fish weigh over 250 kilos (550lbs+) and their average selling price is roughly $8,000. The smaller fish which weigh about the same as a human go for around $1,000. Buyers purchase these fish (as it doesn't get fresher than this) and then sell them to different restaurants and establishments throughout Tokyo during the day. Rumor has it that some of these fisherman go so far into the pacific to get the bigger size fish, that they almost reach american waters. They also don't return home until they catch something, which may take a week or more. The ones pictured above are the smaller human weight ones.
Here is one of the more expensive larger fish.
I'm don't normally see seafood this large so I'm bewildered.
This is an auctioneer selling off the fish layed on the ground. Different registered bidders go around wacking at the fish with a mini sickle to feel for freshness and consistency of the flesh. The whole auction takes place between 5-6am.
After the auction we went back into the larger outer market to see some different fish. Much of the fish and seafood were still alive at each of the boothes. There are some 400 species of sea life that is sold here.
Also, the market is built like a deep and complicated catacomb. Working out way through proved difficult but rewarding.
Lot's of interesting species that I didn't even know existed were on display throughout the market.
Many of the sellers take this ninja-like swords and cut up the fish they bought at the auction into smaller pieces and weigh them out for sell to restaurants.
Octopus legs, mmm mmm.
For the large, several thousand dollar tuna, they use these bandsaws to cube into smaller, more manageable sizes. In the above picture, you can see them sawing one in half.
That yellow/orange thing to the left is a small electric trolley type device the different sellers use to move the heavier loads of fish to and from different booths. These trolleys are riddled throughout the market and gives an added sense of danger to navigating the market. They go fast and don't stop so you get a healthy frogger experience. I read that on any given day, several hundreds of metric tons of fish is bought and sold in this market.
Mmm crab, $65 for one though, a bit pricey.
I've never really seen an ice salesmen before. I always considered selling ice as kind of fraudulent since water is pretty free. But nonetheless, I've always wanted to see large blocks of ice and hooks to pick them up. I can think of endless uses for such hardware.
After we left Tsukiji, we stopped by a random temple that was adjacent to the entrance to the market. Large dragon heads served as a good picture op. The person I'm JDMly posing next to is Lindsey, another homestay student who unfortunately also lives in Saitama.
very Edo looking building inside the temple grounds.
After we left the temple on the way home, we noticed a very famous Kabuki theatre just hanging out on the side of the road. Kabuki theatre is traditional Japanese theatre. This theatre has been around for quite awhile and is very well known, from what I'm told. It was right across from the subway station so I thought I might as well include it.
I ended up getting home around 8:00am and immediately went to bed. It was my first all night excursion here, and likely not my last. I put up a new gallery in the gallery section if you're interested in seeing more sights from the fish market. It was really quite amazing. Anyway, time for more studying, thanks for reading!
Replies: 1 Comment
Tuesday, March 6th
> You didn't get a chance to check out the Kabuki Theater? That's something I'd like to see when I get a chance to visit Japan.