By Abby Coyle, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
The tuna auction at the Fish Market in Tokyo is definitely worth staying up all night for. The auction starts around 5:30 in the morning most days of the week. However, they only let the first 100 or so people in to witness the action, so people begin lining up around 3:30 or 4 in the morning. On the weekends, many young club-goers attempt to stay awake and go straight from the nightclub to the fish market in hopes of getting in. I had such an experience.
After a night out at in Shibuya, my friend and I headed to the fish market around 3:45 in the morning, and we were some of the last few to get admitted inside. After waiting in a small room with the other lucky hundred for what felt like eternity, we were herded inside a huge warehouse around 5:30 a.m. The warehouse was filled with aisles of child-sized frozen fish. We watched as Japanese tuna-buyers used axe-like tools to cut into the tuna and scribble down notes onto pads of paper. After around 20 minutes of the men deciding which tuna was worth their purchase (each tuna goes for somewhere between $10,000 to $40,000 USD!), the auction began. It sounded exactly like what you would expect an American auction to sound like, except in Japanese. Fast-paced and energetic, it was all extremely exciting to watch.
We were shuffled out of the warehouse when the auction was over, so we took to the market. By now it was around 7 am and the small shops and stalls lining the streets were just beginning to open. We stumbled upon a small hole in the wall sushi shop and sat down at two counter seats, exhausted. The menu thankfully had pictures, and we pointed to the Japanese characters that accompanied a picture of tuna sushi with avocado and a couple of rolls. We watched as the man sliced the fresh raw fish and prepared the food. Without a doubt, it was the best sushi I have ever had in my life. It was so brightly colored and so fresh; it tasted like it had come straight from the sea that morning. We ate our food in pure happiness, knowing that the exhaustion of the following day to come was certainly worth it.