TOKYO It’s early morning at the famous Tsukiji fish market in
downtown Tokyo. Huge frozen tuna carcasses, their heads and tails
cut off, sit in long rows in a warehouse that stretches for 100
yards or more. They are encased in frost, the mist rising into the
cool morning air. Some have red markings that indicate their weight
and quality. But all wait, still and lifeless, for the auction to
It is, by some accounts, the best show in Tokyo the tuna auction
in what is reputed to be the biggest fish market in the world.
Tsukiji sprawls over 53 acres not far from the glitzy Ginza
district on the shores of Tokyo Bay. Every day, more than 2,500
tons of fish are bought and sold to hundreds of wholesalers,
restaurateurs and even homemakers.
The variety of seafood is endless over 400 kinds, from
penny-per-piece sardines to golden-brown, dried sea slug caviar,
all sold in hundreds of stalls. It is estimated that one-third of
all seafood consumed in Japan passes through here.
But the main event is the early morning tuna auction.
Before the auction begins at 5:30 a.m., experienced buyers
wander up and down the rows of frozen tuna, carefully inspecting
the meat, cutting into the tail section to judge its color and
Then, the action begins. Several dozen auctioneers, equally
spaced apart, standing on chairs or wooden crates, start barking
out coded language only the regulars can understand. A nod or wave
of the hand, and a tuna weighing 175 pounds and costing over $2,700
is sold. (Freezing does not affect the taste, by the way.)
Of course, tuna is not the only fish sold at Tsukiji. There is
every kind of sea creature imaginable all for eating in the many
warehouses that make up the market: shellfish from China, fish from
off the coast of Japan and even lobsters from New England. And, in
other parts of the market, produce is sold, as well as kitchenware
and other household goods.
But it is the tuna auction that attracts the buyers and sellers,
and not a few tourists, who must be careful not to get run over by
the orange three-wheeled carts that haul the carcasses back and
forth from warehouse to truck.
And, of course, after watching the auction and walking among the
stalls of moist, gleaming fish (amazingly, there is no “fishy”
smell, and the place is hosed down every night), there is only one
thing to do: Have a sushi breakfast at one of the many small
restaurants adjacent to the market.
You know it’s going to be fresh.
|NEW NONSTOP TO TOKYO|
This spring, American Airlines began daily nonstop service between
Los Angeles and Tokyo, opening up a Southern California market that
has proved to be very strong for the airline.
As a passenger on one of the first flights, I was happy to
discover that first-class cabins are outfitted with sleeper seats,
with reclining backs and an extended leg rest. With the flat,
six-foot, six-inch bed in place, Bose earphones on and the lumbar
panel and headrests fine-tuned, I stretched out flat for seven
hours in dreamland.
“Los Angeles has such strong cultural and commercial ties to
Japan that the route makes sense,” said Tokyo-based managing
director Nancy Knipp. “In fact, we planned to do it long ago, but
9/11 put everything on hold.” According to Knipp, demand for the
9½- to 10½-hour flights has been strong since April, when the
airline reported a 116 percent increase in transpacific travel.
(When we flew to Tokyo in May, only 10 of the Boeing 777’s 223
seats were unoccupied.)
Individual monitors, movies, satellite phones and computer power
plugs are standard in some seats. And if your clients are
AAdvantage Club members: a roundtrip flight earns 10,902 miles.
Anne Z. Cooke