One thing I wanted to do for a long time was see the daily Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market. I can't capture in words just how massive this place is. The Photo above is about half of Tsukiji. The other half is the restaurant section open to tourists during morning and lunchtimes with as fresh as possible fish from the ocean.
I first had to make sense of the Japan-Guide Map and compare it with google maps.
See that purple square I had to figure out where that was located, since I was able to walk from my hotel to it. So for all my fellow Japan Travelers here is the google maps link of where to go, the Osakana Fukyo Center.
In order to attend the auction they tell you the free 'tickets' start going out at 5am, I showed up at 4:30 and they were already at capacity so I tried the next day and arrived at 3:00am and just made it into the second batch of 60 people. They only let 120 people total see the auctions. So i waited with my new friends from New Zeland for 2 hours and talked. Also someone snuck in a beer and promptly spilled in on the floor.
The way they keep track of you is these bright green and yellow vests. They give you the vests because the cart drivers are insane and will run over you if they don't see you. They warn you not to touch any fish, take photos only in the auction area repeatedly. I still have the paper handout in english with much the same information.
The time comes for us to move to the auction area, rather quickly. The security guards that handle you are clearly underpaid and extremely good at what they do. It was like a disney ride, a lot of awesome things to see on the way that I had seconds to capture.
What's all the fuss about Tuna? They're delicious! Usually frozen solid and the fish boats catch maybe one a month and can sell from $10,000-50,000 USD depending size and quality of meat. Kelly and I paid for some amazing Otoro, fatty tuna sushi for $18 a piece. Squid in the US is frozen but not in Tokyo! Never frozen squid is amazing.
Tuna auctions are quick, less than a minute and a dozen tuna were sold, packed and on their way for processing.
This happens almost every day, I tried to imagine what it would be like if everyday there were a group of excited tourists coming in to watch you work. Most of these guys looked working class Japanese.
I regretfully missed having breakfast in Tsukiji and walked back to our hotel room. It was quite interesting to see the transition from night to day. If you plan on seeing the auction know a few things; the trains don't run at 3am so your probably going to have to find a taxi or stay in the area, near Tsukiji or Tokyo station. There is a high likelyhood you wont get in on your first try and you might have to try again. They do not take reservations, and prepare for a bit of adventure.