Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market

I had always wanted to visit the magnificence of Japan. As a kid, I was fascinated with ninjas, kamikaze pilots, and the bullet train. But Fish? Not so much, but Japan was always high on my list of places to visit.

One cold November morning I said. F**k it. I am going to Japan, and off to Japan, I went.

The flight was long. Very long.

Crossing the International Date Line always seems to magnify the jet lag experience. But for the first time Jet lag was actually going to work in my favor. You see, the Tsukiji fish market opens its doors at ridiculously early hours. My Japanese jet lag nightmare meant that I was very much awake all night. I confess that I wasn’t worried about the dwindling fish supplies of the world, but I was bored out of my skull.

I went down to the reception and started chatting with a rather tired and pissed off looking Japanese chap. I informed him of my jet lag dilemma. He seemed like he had seen it all before. He took out a crumpled up old map and mumbled, “Go to the fish market. Many dead fish” That didn’t sound all that appealing. Couldn’t he have sent me to a Geisha House? No. It was going to have to be the dead fish at 5 am in the morning. I thanked my new friend and embarked on a far to early adventure.

Dead fish here I come.

a big catch!
a big catch! by bass_nroll, on Flickr

I was too lazy to take the vaunted Tokyo subway so I hopped into a cab. As we wound our way through the empty streets I soaked up the stillness. The calm. This would not last long. Tsukiji is to calm what water is to fire. It obliterates it.

The first thing you notice are literally thousands of fish lying in piles on concrete floors. Multiple auctioneers screaming in Japanese at each other. It is complete mayhem. The energy was frenetic. The pace was unyielding. The noise deafening. The smell, somewhat fishy. Bedlam.

With all this going on in the background it was time for another first; a sushi breakfast. The poor fish that were literally swimming around the Japanese seas a few hours before was now going to be eaten. By me.

Fish Market
by nathan makan, on Flickr

The market is peppered with sushi restaurants. Some with long lines. Some with no lines. Being the impatient fellow that I am, I couldn’t wait in line and chose to risk it at a ‘no lined’ sushi joint. There was no turning back.

It turned out that even the no lined sushi joints were of the highest caliber. A feast awaited. Just enough food to put me into a sushi coma and find my way back to the hotel for a much needed early morning nap, I would no doubt wake up at lunchtime further confusing my biological time clock.  At least I could wile away my inevitable jet lag the next day at the worlds greatest fish market. The one place on earth where you actually feel sorry for the poor little buggers. Even though they are pretty tasty…

Leon Logothetis is a global adventurer. He has visited more than 50 countries and traveled to every continent. He is the host of the TV series ‘Amazing Adventures Of A Nobody’, which is broadcast across the world by National Geographic and, over the course of three seasons, sees Leon cross America, the United Kingdom and Europe on just $5, 5 Pounds, and 5 Euros a day respectively. Leon has also documented his travels for numerous media outlets including Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Outside, Good, Psychology Today, and 90 Mins. His new book, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, is in stores now. For more info visit Leon Logothetis

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