Tsukiji Fish Market has been operating in the same place since 1935 but its history extends beyond that. Long ago in ancient Japan, the head of Edo (modern day Tokyo) Tokugawa Ieyasu, invited fishermen and merchants from around Japan the opportunity to sell their goods to his castle. The year was between 1556 – 1584.
Merchants flocked to Edo and three market places popped up in the vicinity. Tsukiji Fish Market was one of the three. Even after the era of Ieyasu and the rulers after him, the merchants continued buying and selling in these marketplaces for centuries. In 1923 after political unrest and a natural disaster, Tsukiji was legally determined as the sole market place of the three. Construction was completed in 1935 and the Tsukiji Market Place we see today was born.
In 2016 the government of Japan is closing down Tsukiji and relocating the market. When the move happens, it is speculated over 10% of the Tsukiji merchants will not be joining.
This kind of bums me out.
Tsukiji, is a very special place. Everyone seems to get it right away. Not me. It took four visits to be allured then fell head over heels in love.
After spending an inspiring and magical day at the market yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about its history, the stories of the merchants, their goods and products. And the generosity! I still can’t get over how everyone was so willing to share centuries of expertise with a random grown-up pestering them with questions like a five year old. There is so much magic jam packed in one place; it’s so unreal.
I woke up and immediately went back again today for breakfast. I’m now determined to get to know Tsukiji inside out before they have to move. What better way to achieve that, than eating my way through.
Today is Day Two. Sundays are quiet at the market — almost everything is closed. I chose to eat at a stand. The gigantic prawns are $7 for a stick. The crab, about $14 dollars and the scallops are around $6 bucks.
Can’t wait to go back on Thursday (I’ll be in Kyoto for the next three days).
Actually. I want to move into the market.
Let the countdown to November 2016 begin!
Sidenote: I spent a day thinking about what my issue with Tsukiji was and now see things clearly. I loathed Tsukiji for three reasons. 1. because I didn’t want to let down friends who were visiting when they asked a Japanese speaker to accompany them. I went to Tsukiji out of obligation which wouldn’t be too much of a problem if… 2. I was a morning person. And a morning person, I am not. (Although lately I am so excited to start my days, I’m wide awake by 5 am.) and 3. my visits were based only on the inner market (where the auction happens) and by the time we would wander to the outer market (where I’ve been trolling the past few days) I’m worn out and not really happy to be there.