If you have read my previous post on Tokyo (http://aikkianphotography.blogspot.sg/2015/02/tokyo-drift.html), you would have known that I have failed my mission of getting into the tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market in 2012.
As promised, I have made my way back this time, determined to get myself in no matter what. (Above: A panoramic view of the bustling Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.)
Everyone would be given an information sheet like this when entering the waiting area. You have two hours to read it and potentially, be able to memorize the market map if you have nothing better to do.
Not anyone can call and bid during the auction. Only licensed participants can do so and they have their name tags quite clearly displayed.
And precisely after 30 minutes, we were ushered out of the auction area to the Kaikobashi Gate, which is not where you had entered. There is a site map at the guardhouse if you are lost.
The queue for Sushi Dai continued to build-up at 7.15am.
The usual heavy traffic.
More of Sushi Dai queue at 7.30am.
Found a nice, small, quiet coffee shop that serves what I needed - simply a cup of coffee and a simple breakfast. Most importantly, there was no need to queue.
Locals congregate to have breakfast and chit chat, and I was the only tourist along the bar counter seating.
Very satisfying breakfast. This was all I need.
Sharpening knifes manually by hand. Those beautiful knifes were for sale and many tourists were seen getting a blade or two.
Where there is fish, there is gull.
It can get a little boring having to wait 2.5 hours for the fish market to be opened to the public. Was just shooting anything that came along and looking for new things, new angles to kill time.
Finally, it was 9am and everyone started to storm into the fish market. Well, it was quite obvious that some had started to stroll in before that.
Hand carts all neatly arranged and stored. Despite the crazy, high-energy activity, the Japanese would still have their way of ensuring composure and order.
Daylight filtering through the 80 year old market.
Cutting up frozen tuna with an industrial band saw.
Fish head curry. No Photoshop, no illusion. That's how big it was.
A wide variety of crabs. Have never seen so many different types all displayed together.
Taking good care of your goods.
Till death do us apart.
There were simply too many huge tunas lying around from stall to stall. It's not difficult to see where the 2,000 tons of seafood come from each day.
Before you leave, do drop by the Tsukiji Outer Market along Harumi Street. There is a variety of wholesale and retail shops selling Japanese kitchen tools, groceries, seafood, dried food, as well as several restaurants.
Took the subway from Tsukijishijo station to Shiodome station, and transferred to the Yurikamome Line. The journey from Shiodome towards Odaiba would travel over the Rainbow Bridge across the picturesque Tokyo Bay.
The Yurikamome Line is fully automated with driverless trains. Arriving at Telecom Center station and heading for a hot bath to ease the hardship since 3am.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari, Tokyo's largest artificial hot spring complex is located just 5 minutes walk from Telecom Center station.
Do note that it only opens at 11am daily. Admission fees as shown above. It's significantly cheaper after 6pm.
The main lobby of Oedo Onsen Monogatari. When I arrived at 10.45am, a long queue had formed in the lobby. People were seating on the tatami waiting patiently and orderly.
Platform staff in the subway station, always ready to assist.
Back to Shinjuku for late lunch at a small ramen restaurant opposite our hotel.
Small restaurant with big portion. Incredibly mouth-watering ramen with crunchy beansprouts.
The Ueno Park (Ueno Kōen, 上野公園) is a huge public park in central Tokyo. It is the place to go if you are interested in museums. The Ueno Zoo is also located in the park. Just take the subway to Ueno station, quite clearly.
Opened in 1961, The Bunka Kaikan is one of the oldest concert hall in Japan. It was designed by Kunio Maekawa, an apprentice of Le Corbusier, who later worked with Antonin Raymond (student of Frank Lloyd Wright).
Had planned to visit the National Museum of Western Art designed by Corbusier. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation.
The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest of Japan's top-tier national museums. Definitely worth a visit.
An exhibit in the Tokyo National Museum - the Standing Juni Shinsho (Twelve Heavenly Generals). Beautiful wood carving believed to be produced during the Kenkyu era (1190 - 99).
Traditional Japanese swords on display. The Museum features one of the largest and best collections of art and archaeological artefacts in Japan, comprising over 110,000 individual items including nearly a hundred highly valuable National Treasures.
The museum gift shop has an impressive collection of books and gifts. Not to be missed for anyone visiting the museum.
The main entrance.
The bell tower was designed to appear thin and flat, elegantly stretching into the sky in a single sleek line.
Took a public bus back to Shinjuku from St. Mary's Cathedral. And there was free WIFI on the bus! Impressive.
Dinner for lazy people. Onigiri from Omusubi Gonbei located at B2 of our hotel, once again.
- Date: February 2015
- Accommodation: Prince Hotel, Shinjuku (http://www.princehotels.com/en/shinjuku/)
TIPS ON TSUKIJI FISH MARKET:
- Reach by 3am if you want to be 100% sure to get a place into the tuna auction. Make sure you're at the Kachidoki Gate entrance (beside Kachidoki Bridge).
- Reaching at 3.30am would likely get you into the second group of the 120 people.
- From my experience in this trip, reaching at 3.45am would likely end you up in a painful disappointment.
- All times above are solely based on my experience in this trip. Make your own judgement.
- Bring something to keep yourself occupied in the waiting room, especially if you're bringing children along.
- There is a vending machine outside the waiting room. You may wish to prepare some light snacks and beverage, as long as they wouldn't make a mess.
- A small foldable stool would also be useful.
- No photography allowed when walking between the waiting room and the auction hall. Follow instructions or you'll be scolded. They are very serious as it concerns safety.
- Photography and videography are allowed in the tuna auction. But NO flash. Be prepared to get shouted at if that strobe goes off from your camera.
- Tsukiji Fish Market will be relocated to a new complex in Toyosu by end 2016, after postponing several times. Visit soon if you wish to see the market and the tuna auction in its original setting and flavour that has been around for 80 years. You'll never know when the authorities would start the relocation if it's going to be in phases.
- The weather could feel colder than the numbers suggest due to wind and rain. It's better to be over-prepared than under-provided. Do bring along REAL winter jackets from reliable makers.
- Jackets with hoods are absolute essentials. Scarfs, neck and face warmers are very effective as well.
- Bring a good pair of gloves that are thick enough but also fit well. Better if it's a pair of touchscreen-enabled gloves since we use our smartphones so often. It can be annoying if you are planning to use your smartphone as your camera and need to remove your gloves every now and then.
- Consider bringing heat packs as well to add some warmth in your pockets.
- Cold weather is dry weather. Bring some REALLY good moisturiser with you. Those little travel-size tubes will not be enough as it's easy to underestimate the amount of moisturiser needed everyday. Bring different types if you are particular about application on different areas like body and face (remember to check-in if it exceeds 100ml).
PHOTOGRAPHY INFO & TIPS:
- Was using Nikon D5100, Nikon AFS DX 10-24mm f3.5-4.5, Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC, Nikon AFS 50mm f1.4, Nikon AFS VR 70-200mm f2.8, Sony HX50V, Sony Action Cam AS30V, Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy Edge.
- Other than keeping your hands warm and functionable, gloves should be of perfect fit to handle and operate your camera easily. Best if they are designed for winter photography. Get touchscreen-enabled gloves if you're using cameras with touchscreen feature.
- Consider bringing cameras with bigger buttons and controls if you don't mind the bulk. I find it hard to use those tiny buttons on the D5100 with my gloves on.
- Use a lens hood. It can be useful to prevent rain water from hitting the glass directly, which can be annoying and hard to wipe dry. It rains quite often in Tokyo during winter.
- Extra batteries are critical as they deplete fast in cold weather.
- A waterproof outermost jacket with a hood could potentially eliminate the need to carry an umbrella. Imagine carrying an umbrella while trying to shoot.
- Most indoor areas are well heated during winter, which is great for us but not our lenses. If you have stayed in the warm indoors for long enough (e.g. for a meal), condensation will occur. Hence, try to keep your camera cold in the bag if you want to be able to shoot immediately.