Colton's Asia Experience

What Does Melting Velvet Taste Like?

By Colton Powell

Before going to Tokyo almost everyone who has ever been told me we had to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market.

The market is the one of the largest wholesale fish and seafood markets in the world-officials claim close to 20 percent of the world's total fish catch comes in and out of here. It is also home to an early morning fresh tuna auction, where you can see giant tuna sold off to buyers from all over the city.

Given that the auction starts at the crack of dawn and only allows a limited number of visitors, we opted to head to the inner market once it opened to the a more reasonable time of 8:00 a.m.

We headed down on the metro and arrived just before opening, after a briefing at the main entrance. There we were given a map and warned not to interfere with the business of the market and to stay out of the way of vendors and buyers alike.

Using a large knife called a Maguro bōchō, a market worker filets fresh tuna
Market Worker Fillets Tuna With a Maguro Bocho Knife
The market was never intended to be a tourist attraction but over the years has become popular with the public. You're not able to purchase any of the seafood but are allowed to wander endlessly through its expanse to feel like a local restaurant owner on the hunt for the perfect catch.
A typical stall selling a variety of seafood in the inner market.
Typical Stall Selling a Variety of Seafood.
As we made our way into the market's depths we were greeted with the fresh scent of seafood and loud banter of locals looking for the best bargain. Stall after stall cascaded in rows with anything from sea urchins to squid, to fish that I have never seen before. Stacked in ice chests to maintain their freshness, there was what seemed like every species from local waters.
Large red snapper, giant prawns, lobster-you name it you could probably find it somewhere in the market. Among the thin rows of stalls workers transported fish on small electric carts in a maze of tight spaces and people. The drivers were moving as quick as possible with nothing stopping their path, not even people-we were almost run over numerous times!

The most impressive part of the market is the tuna. Some stalls housed full-size fish that had been bought at the morning's auction which were the size of a small couch. Throughout the market giant slabs sit ready to be filleted or sold in large sections. The tuna is cut frozen either with a bandsaw or with a long knife that looks like a large sword.

After seeing so much seafood, hunger took over so we headed to the sushi restaurants just on the outside of the market. Here there are long lines waiting to taste the seafood right from the market. We found a small place and had the freshest sashimi I have ever eaten. It was like velvet melting in your mouth-just incredible.

Fresh salmon and tuna sashimi with miso soup
Fresh Salmon and Tuna Sashimi With Miso Soup
With our stomachs full of the day's catch we were glad we listened to everyone and braved the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Click next to continue to Part 4 of Colton's Asia Experience

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