Tsukiji Market is not the World’s Best Fish Market. It is the World’s “Only” Fish Market
Food Critic Masuhiro Yamamoto
When you say that something is in 1st place, that means there are 2nd and 3rd places, but Tsukiji Market is one of a kind. Looking all over the world, a comparable fish market does not exist anywhere else. Tsukiji Market exists based on the fact that seafood has been eaten raw throughout the history of Japan’s food culture. It is considered how seafood can be maintained in the most delicious condition to be eaten raw, after being brought from the sea.
The sellers perfectly comprehend the preferences of chefs and calculate how to provide fish in the most delicious condition that is optimal for the timing that the fish will be prepared in the kitchen. A market with professionals who have not only knowledge about the product, but a complete understanding of the best timing for eating only exists in Japan in all of the world.
Over 40 years ago, I was taken by a master of a sushi restaurant to visit Tsukiji for the first time. I was intimidated by the vibrant scene of tuna being auctioned off before 5 in the morning and moved by the extreme freshness and abundance of seafood. The fact that all of this supports to provide food for people of Tokyo makes me proud of “Tokyo, the food capital.”
Tsukiji is located only 15 minutes by foot and 5 minutes by bicycle from Ginza, and this proximity has nurtured “Ginza,” now a gastronomic city representing the world. Also, it always surprises visitors from abroad that there is never a fishy smell in the market, even during the summer, and it is impressive that there is never a single fly.
Further, the facial expressions and gestures of the people working at the selling stands are very lively and fascinating to watch, just like the fish they handle. I believe that they are a perfect embodiment of the spirit of ‘Edo style’ and carry on its tradition. That is because toward every piece of exceptional seafood that arrives everyday from across Japan, no matter if its a single sardine, “respect” is not forgotten. At the same time, the “pride” of working at a fish market that is unmatched in the world must also play a part.
As a result of the passion of the professional fishermen who go out to sea risking their lives, the passion of the professional conveyors who carry the seafood from the port to Tsukiji Market without losing any freshness or quality, and the respect toward the seafood of the professional sellers who sell them to sushi chefs and restaurants, I believe that the fish culture of Tokyo, and furthermore the food culture of Japan, have been created.
“Tsukiji” is the symbol of the assembly of the reverence of the Japanese people toward seafood, and the movie “TSUKIJI WONDERLAND” encompasses this to the fullest extent.