Japan’s signature mix of energy and efficiency is nowhere more in evidence than the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo – one of the capital’s more off-beat visitor attractions. Its trading day begins at the crack of dawn, as the fishermen drop anchor in the bay and the night’s catch is landed to be inspected by a phalanx of waiting experts.
The highlight of the morning is the famous tuna auction, in which dozens of wholesalers bid for the biggest and best specimens. These can weigh up to 650kg, and once sold are carted away by teams of highly skilled specialists who can slice and dice an entire fish in a matter of minutes.
This memorable spectacle has become so popular that the entire market was recently moved to a new venue on the bay, where visitors may now view proceedings from overhead walkways. The real motive, we may infer, was to clear the sales floor of visitors to ensure maximum efficiency!
A great way to round off your visit is to mingle with the market workers over a bowl of super-fresh ‘kaisendon’ (a raw slice of sashimi on a bed of rice) in Tsujiki’s legendary sushi bars. Each one only seats a few customers, so you normally need to queue, but it’s well worth the effort: this will without a doubt be the freshest fish you're likely to find in Japan, perhaps even the world. So if you're jet-lagged and can't sleep on arrival in Tokyo, head to Tsukiji market for a quintessentially Japanese experience!
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