A friend mentioned that when the family arrives in Tokyo the best thing to do is get out and see the Tsukiji fish market, which seems to make every “things you must do in Tokyo” list. The reasoning; your body clock is going to be a mess and you will be up very early. To get the most out of the market, you should be there for 4:30am to get in line for the great tuna auction.

Sure enough, I was up around 1AM (after an amazing 4 hours sleep) with the whole family was wide awake by 4:30am. We decided that we were not going to rush out for the tuna auction but would still get down there to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market, leaving the apartment at 6AM (everything is pretty much done by 9am).

When we arrived, it was an absolute hive of activity. The motorized carts, delivery motor and pedal bikes that feed fish to a city of tens of millions, were everywhere. Step the wrong way and you could get run over (although they are immensely careful).

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The shuttle carts are an amazing little device. The circle in the middle is a huge wheel that you do not turn but press left and right to steer, with a throttle on the right foot. They accelerate quickly and turn on a dime. They were either loaded with raw fish (note the big tuna head on the right)

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or with styrofoam boxes packed with ice and fish for delivery. We happened upon a fishmonger filling the boxes with ice.

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The pace is so frantic that they need a police officer to keep it all flowing.

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You would think that a large fish market would give off some sort of nasty smell and that it would be messy. Neither was the case, it smelled “fresh” and was very clean. We happened on a indoor alley behind the stalls and were amazed at how clean it was. As we walked past this vendor, the wonderful smell of shrimp wafted down the laneway. Amazing.

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Now if we just knew how to read Japanese and figure out what everything was beyond the extremely obvious … This is clearly one spectacular cut of tuna (upper right).

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This looks interesting …. and I am game. As we tell the boys, you must try something at least 2 times before you decide that you do not like it.

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