I Wish Annoying Tourists Would Leave The Tsukiji Fish Market Alone

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tsukiji Fish Market

I’m crazy for pictures. You put a picture of a cheeseburger in the menu of a five-star restaurant and that’s what I’m ordering. Screw the caviar, unless there’s a picture, it’s losing out to the photo option. Apparently, my quirkiness also works for travel. In particular, I recently came across a photo essay of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market that really made me regret not going there last time I was in the Japanese capital. I’ve always wanted a 5 a.m. photo of myself with a 100-pound tuna. Who doesn’t, right?

For the world famous fish market, the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami was particularly devastating. Let’s just say it took time to return to some normalcy: several weeks before visitors started to return and several more months before the notorious hordes of tourists came back.

Though the hectic fish auction located in the inner market (Jonai Shijo, which tourists are allowed to enter after 9:00 a.m) and the overlooked high-end melon auction in the outer market (Jogai Shijo, which opens at 9:30 a.m.) are usually considered the main attractions by visitors, I beg to differ.

It’s actually the stupidity of the tourists that may be as interesting as anything going on with the seafood. CNNGo recently reported that “visitor antics [were getting] out of hand.” What does that look like exactly? Click here to see a (fairly embarrassing) video example documenting some of those “out of hand” actions, including visitors riding on the back of the machines as they were transporting goods around the market, people taking photos while licking the fish and tourists putting their grubby hands on the goods.

Though the market is marketed as a destination to visit, the fact remains that it is purely a working market. In other words: don’t be a dumb ass. For a month in 2010, the market was completely closed to visitors because of these shenanigans. Luckily, my 5 a.m. photo with a tuna is still a possibility today. Currently, auctions are available to the first 120 visitors, on a first-come basis, beginning at 5 a.m. The market opens completely at 9 a.m, hours after the auctions have concluded.

And if you are going to be a part of early morning crowd, behave yourself and grab your camera. It is, after all, one of the busiest and most visited food markets in the entire world.

[Tsukiji Market by Fransisco Atunes/Flickr]

By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at TheJonWickproject.wordpress.com. (@ExpedJon)

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