I went back to Tsukiji one more time this morning for another round of photography before we depart Japan on the 14th. I keep on wanting to write a blog here to sum up an overall impression of the world’s largest fish market. Yet, still, much as I was a bit lost for words two weeks ago during my first visit, I am still unable to find the words to fully describe what Tsukiji is like. I hope that there will be an image or two that I have caught on film that does in some ways describe the feeling of Tsukiji.
Here are some preliminary thoughts, first of all, I might be one of the last foreign tourists allowed to photograph the market for the rest of 2008, or ever maybe. Tsukiji will be closed to foreign tourists from Dec 15, 2008 – Jan 17, 2009. The workers complains that tourists disrupting their work flow, tourists are not aware of their surrounding and the electric flatbed carts that workers drive at top speed to transport the fish. Which are all fair complains, when you think about it, it is a place of work after all and not some sort of static museum made for observation. On top of it, there is a plan to move Tsukiji to a new facility that they are building. Whether the move will actually happen or not is still debate able, but there is an irony in that I photographed Fulton Fish Market (New York City) before it moved to its new shiny home up in the Bronx.
There is a contrast in the worker at the market, the older generation verse the young. The older generation moves at a slower speed, time is different for them. They walk around their stall with their hands folded behind their back, gently inspecting their goods, quietly awaits. While the younger generation drives the flatbed carts at top speed through the market delivering the fish to its next point of processing. The young pushes the froze tuna through the band saw, cutting it into smaller pieces while the older seasoned fisherman takes the meter long Oroshi hocho and meticulous decapitate the tuna into 4 large sections.
I was amazed to watch over half of a warehouse full of tuna be auction off and moved to their next location in less than 25 minutes. Or the careful silence the bidder takes in inspecting each tuna’s belly with a flash light or how they cut off a bit of flesh from the tail section and rub it between their fingers to determine the fat content of that tuna. All of my thoughts are still a little scattered and some what random, but it will be intelligible soon, I hope.
We later meet up with a friend, a film editor who is currently working in Tokyo, on a film called “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo” which is about an employee of a fish market who also doubles as a contract killer….
I feel all things are starting to converge together….