It’s the largest wholesale fish market in the world and they sell fish – lots of fish. The market also holds the record for the most expensive fish ever sold. A giant blue fin tuna sold in January of this year for a record $736,700. Every slice of sushi off that fish wholesaled for a record $96 dollars a slice. Don’t waste a slice.
Well if you like to get up early, and I mean really early you can catch all of the excitement of the Tsujiki Fish Market. The market allows the first 140 or so tourist that get in line each morning a chance to catch a glimpse of one of the most exciting fish auctions (or any auction for that matter). We got up at around 3:15am, caught a taxi to the Ginza district and found our way to the warehouse which was located in the front of the market. Arriving at about 4am we had about an hour and a half to wait in line and catch all of the action as truck after truck arrived with fish from all over the world to be sold as this incredible market.
It was raining hard so they let us inside a waiting room earlier and gave us red vest to wear and sit with all of the other tourist from around the world. This place was getting packed in a hurry as everyone wanted to see what happened here.
Since there are so many people that want to get inside, they divide it into two groups. The first group gets in about 5:20 and stays for about 30 minutes and the second group gets in about 6 and gets 30 minutes inside the auction hall as well. In retrospect it probably is better to be the second group because you get to see a little less of the inspection of the fish and a little more of the actual excitement of fish being auctioned off.
The auction hall is filled with frozen tuna. They look like huge blocks of frozen fish ice. It is quite remarkable to see hundreds and thousands of dollars of tuna in once place.
The gill-less and gutted tuna are prodded at, poked at and sampled by tuna expert guys that are expert at examining completely frozen tuna. These guys have figured out a way to take pick axes to the tail ends of the tuna and take a morsel out of it and gauge the quality of the sushi that will come of it. I don’t know how they do it but they were noshing on bits of frozen tuna at 5am and appeared to be enjoying it. I prefer a nice piece of toast and coffee in the morning myself but to each his own.
If you want to be a tuna auction guy in this market you will need a few things. One of those things is a pick axe, some rubber boots, a flashlight and a strong stomach. The tuna auction guys keep it simple and get the job done.
The hall seemed to get progressively more crowded and noisy as the minutes clicked by. When we entered at about 5:20 it was just guys testing the fish but in the next 10 minutes auctioneers came out of the wood work to score a deal. If I could have just gotten my hands on a million bucks or so I could have walked out of there with one of these tuna fishes.
Now you have to remember that the auction is all in Japanese, so you will not really know what the fish are selling for as the auction guy barks out things and auctioneers steadily raise the bids. You don’t here things like, “givemeda 4 givemeda 5, givemeda 5, givemeda 5, givemeda 5, givemeda5givemeda6, givemeda6, givemeda6…SOLD to the man in the rubber boots with the pick axe.”
The Tsujiki Fish Market is open almost every morning except Sundays and Holidays. Sometime tourist exhibit bad behavior by getting in the way or causing problems at the auction. Several times the market has banned tourist for periods of months to punish them and to show that they are serious about not having the tourist become a distraction. We were told to be extremely quiet and to not interfere with any of the business of the auction.
After these tuna are sold they are cut up in a separate room by a huge band saw. They typically cut it in quarters. After that it is shipped out to the finest Sushi restaurants in Japan and the rest of the world. Now you can actually get good Sushi in this market at some very famous locations but it was raining so hard we didn’t get the chance to do that.
The most surprising thing about this attraction in Japan is that it was completely free. Now, that is a pretty good deal.
The fish market is abuzz with activity. There are fellas driving these sled carts everywhere carting fish on ice, big tuna and every other assortment of stuff that is served at Sushi restaurants. It’s no wonder this market sells about 600 billion yen and about 700,000 metric tons of seafood every year. This is the place where the market for fish prices is created. This is the center of all fish activity. Fish hate it but the rest of us love it.
If you’re going to Japan this is the place to check out. Do it on the first couple of days of your trip since you are still jet-lagged and getting up at 3:30 am is not a big deal since you’ll probably be awake anyway tossing and turning. You can get the train there (it’s the Hibaya Line) but we elected to take the taxi since we didn’t want to get lost. It cost about $35 to get the cab from Shinjuku but you catch the train for a few bucks. It can be some great fun checking out the Tsujiki Fish Market.
I was quite busy last weekend. Lots of video and photography projects at the same time. I took some pictures of my friend Brian and his wife. They are expecting a beautiful baby – Paige in the next couple of months. Look how happy they are awaiting this little bundle of cuteness.
I placed the wide angle 15mm super wide angle lens on my D3S and I was determined to take some cool shots of chickens. Patrick has two very extraordinary looking chickens at his ranch in Bonita so I headed there to get some epic chicken shots with my super wide angle lens.
When I got there, we decided the model would be Maria – the chicken. Apparently Maria fashions herself as some sort of super high fashion model because she was absolutely in love with my wide angle lens. I find that typically people are afraid of the lens because it appears to them that I am shooting so up in their face. But with Maria it was different. The closer I got to her, the more aggressive she began to come toward me and the camera itself. Apparently she viewed my wide angle lens as some sort of enemy to her territory so she progressively got more and more aggressive as I moved the lens in closer and closer. She began to peck at my camera like it was her worst enemy. But all the while she maintained her composure and I was able to get some terrific shots of her.
Maria is some chicken, but I am still caught wondering what her fascination with my wide angle lens is?
I finally finished off my huge photo archival project which involved taking 40 years of childhood photos from our house in Chula Vista and getting the best ones digitally scanned and then uploaded. They are all on my photo site now but boy was it a lot of work. While I was going through the photos I noticed that there were quite a few photos of my mom. She was the obvious center of our family – giving birth to 12 kids (almost one every single year I was living in that house) – but I think it showed me that my dad who was the camera-man always had a genuine love for her. I guess it showed it how often he photographed her.
Well, my mom, besides being the greatest mother ever is a real beauty. I always remember everywhere we went they thought that she was one of the sisters. Everyone would always ask – where is your mom and we would point to her and they would say, “no!”. It was quite funny having a mom that always looked as young as one of us. Through the years my mom has defied time and actually gotten younger and younger looking. And I think I know her secret. It is because she is acting younger and younger each year. She is one of the most active and involved people I know. She is more involved today than she was 10 years ago and she is getting younger and younger because of it. I think she has discovered the secret of eternal youth. It is something I have definitely learned from her.
When you get older, years begin to blend into each other – one after the next and you can quickly find yourself amazed at how quickly time flew by. I think 2011 was no exception. It seems like just yesterday I was taking pictures of a newborn and tiny baby named Darla just a few days as her parents took her home from the hospital. That was last March and just this last weekend I had a chance to attend her first birthday party. It really felt like I had just gone through a time warp from 2011 and ended up in 2012 suddenly. It was an amazing day and one thing is for certain – the last year has been a lifetime for Darla while it was only a blink for me.
Darla is an amazing and very different baby. You know it the instant you walk into the room and see her. She is always smiling and laughing and watching everything around her and always eating, grabbing for or thinking about food of some kind. The Doctors say she is in the 85th percentile for babies her age and Darla seems motivated to reach that 99th percentile. Besides making a quite entertaining baby eating machine, Darla is always trying to hug everyone or share her food with them. It is the cutest thing to watch a baby that is so social and friendly to everyone around her. When I step back and look at the photos I take of Darla I am struck by the sense that she has already discovered that the most important thing in life is the close people in your life. She seems to have learned that at such a young age and it took me close to 40 years to discover what she has already found in less than 1. Needless to say she is the focal point of every family event.
Darla’s birthday was up in Los Angeles at Elizabeth’s (my sister) and Greg (her husbands) home. One of the most unusual things about the party is that there were probably about 10 other babies that had just turned 1 or soon would there. It was a one year old baby birthday bash. Darla provided the main attraction of the day eating a BabyCakes cupcake in the messiest and cutest fashion that you could ever ask for. Take a look at the pictures and be amazed at all the cuteness.
I went to take some pictures of Trevor my friend a couple of days ago. We didn’t get started until after the sun went down so we really didn’t have any lights besides flashes to take pictures. We went to Windansea Beach, one of my favorite beaches, and not to far from my home. Trevor put on a suit, tie and Penguin outfit and we took some shots. I like shooting with flash because you can essentially freeze action and get some pretty cool effects. In this particular photo we used a backflash (which Trevor is covering with his body) and a front flash to capture and light his face and body. One of the great things about back-flash is that you can highlight things around your subject. It’s great for capturing rain, smoke, mist or as in this picture – SAND! I think this picture turned out cool because it looks like he is whipping the sand and it is coming right out of the palms of his hands. Flash photography can be a lot of fun.
This is not a bunny rabbit, this is my niece Darla. How cute is that picture of her?
Well, I cannot lie. Last week you may have noticed that I didn’t really get a chance to post anything new. Well, I have an excuse. I was very sick. I had a stomach flu like no other. I am proud to admit that I ate 1 ding dong last week and that is about it. I could not even think of food, if I did I immediately had to run to the bathroom and throw up. I am not sure what I had but I never want to return to that state. In any case, I am starting to feel much better this week and I am getting really ready to take a lot more pictures and videos. I have a few projects lined up that I am pretty excited about.
So anyway, about this little bunny.. She is very cute isn’t she. She is turning 1 next week and I will be there to take some epic shots.
She is back at it again. The adorable Darla who you may have seen in some of my other videos is back being her adorable self again. I spent the afternoon with Elizabeth, Greg and Darla at their home in Los Angeles and got a chance to see first hand some of the adorable stuff that Darla does all day long. Well, you can have sneak peek too, check out the latest video showing a day in the life of an adorably mischievous baby.