Monday, March 7, 2011

Amazing Tsukiji Market, and a Guest Blog Appearance

Please tell me that you are still loving the photographs from Japan. Because, while it is becoming a cherished memory further in the depths of my mind, there are some incredible images yet to share. 

While traveling and since I've been back, I have been cooking up a treat for you all with a lovely woman halfway around the world. She is passionate about delicious foods and the photography that captures them so well. Sarka hails from Prague and currently lives in London, and has a penchant for a lot of the things that speak to my own heart (and after this long day, red wine is front and center!). Realizing that we have a lot in common, she invited me to guest blog, and today, one of my most incredible experiences while in Japan is shared here and at her blog, Cook your Dreams. We both hope you enjoy this shared adventure!

Which brings me to the phenomenon that is Tsukiji (pronounced "tskee-jee") Market in Tokyo. I'd taken a trip there before and marveled at the endless stalls of exotic and alien creatures. Many fresh from the kill, and still many others kept alive in filtered temporary quarters boxed in styrofoam, until their ends would come too. I can say in both experiences that walking through the wet, bustling aisles was a fascinating, gruesome, and humbling experience. Oh, and freezing. It escapes me to understand how these men and women survive countless hours in a day (for their lifetimes, mind you) in this wet, chilly stadium-market. One of the many enigmas of this incredible place....

Dried goods were part of an outdoor secondary market encircling the stadium

These were alive and moving...

Fresh clams

Left, the man occasionally placed his hands on that teapot to keep warm. Right, fresh tuna.

Carting away tuna heads
Left, 4-foot lengths of frozen tuna waiting to be carted. Right, discards.

After hours wandering around, I couldn't feel my fingers or toes. Small price to pay to witness the whirring kerosene-powered foot trucks; the careful and expert butchering of mollusks and tuna; the late-morning banter amongst colleagues, a sure sign that their work day was near its end and that the customary communal meal was next. 

J and I were starving, even through the empathy and pity we felt towards these incredible creatures. At one stall, a smiling older gentleman (pictured in the red jacket, well above) offered us advice on where to go for some of the best sushi we would ever have. And though numb and ravenous, we managed to find it and wait in a line that made satisfaction a further forty minute delay... but it was worth it.

Our sushi master preparing omakase - oyshi!!


  1. This is truly amazing. I love love love markets, the sounds, the smells and all the different veggies and meat you find there. Great mood!

  2. thank you very much. it was an amazing time to be sure! and i whole-heartedly agree - markets are at the pulse of living. :)

  3. Ah!! Tsukiji market!! I lived in Japan for almost a year and missed visiting the market because I had to wake up early. Ever since I left the country, I have been kicking myself for being as lazy as I was!!

    Gorgeous photos.. :)

  4. Melina!! O its been ages since I last saw your beautiful work (haven't spend much time on Flickr I'm afraid) and thanks to Sarka I now discover you have a blog too! How cool is that... Even cooler is that I will be leaving to Japan the beginning of april and high on my list of things to do was to visit this particular market! So thanks for giving me already an idea of how this will be looking. I will be following your blog from now on! :)

  5. asha, you sound like me with new york - i haven't yet visited the statue of liberty and other famous sites that others make high on their lists! (embarrassing, i know...) maybe life will bring you back to embrace tsukiji market as you might have when you lived in japan - it could happen! :)

    hi simone! it has indeed been a very long time :D i haven't been to flickr like our days of old - which is good, as we're doing other great things with ourselves, right? - it's so nice that we can make this connection here and now. i am soooo happy you'll have the chance to see so many wonderful things in japan!!!!!!! if i can help you at all (in addition to these posts, and psst... more to come!), please don't hesitate to ask. i am a bit envious that you'll be there during sakura! i'm sure it doesn't need saying, but do take lots of pictures.