You hear of Tsukiji, you hear of the fish market and the tuna auction there.
Famous as these are, it is easy to overlook all that surrounds them – and there, the fascinating outer market is much easier to get to than the fish auction.
Actually, it is a bit odd that the market – at least the fish market – is is still there. There have been talks about moving it for quite a while already, but at least so far, it is still at the location here, where it was established long ago.
This time around – after my earlier visit twenty years ago, when I got to see the tuna auction but didn’t even realize there was an outer market – I simply wouldn’t have managed to get there early enough to visit the tuna auction. For that, one has to line up long-enough before it starts – which is before public transport starts operating.
The outer market with less fish but more vegetables was more along my current interests, anyways.
Two things I particularly noticed, given the alignment of these interests:
Namiyoke Inari Shrine
One, there is a temple here. Well, okay, a Shinto shrine. Still, it is interesting to see the intersection of spirituality and commerce that pertains here.
Fishermen had a pretty dangerous job, given the vagaries of the sea. And even if everything went a-okay with the general journey and they got back to port safely, a good catch was not guaranteed.
All, practical though the concerns may be, reasons to seek some spiritual support. And, even in today’s modern and high-tech time, at least a notion of such influences remains.
The Outer Market
Secondly, when you don’t get focused on the interior fish market and the famous auction there, you have much better chances of noticing all the produce being sold in the outer market.
And you can find, for example, that the same wasabi that you will hardly ever have any chance of getting outside of Japan is quite widely being sold here…
Of course, this being Japan, you can find some fish here, too: in the form of dried katsuobushi and similar.
The typical problem with plants applies with these offerings, though:
The tuna auction is full of action even – maybe especially – when one understands nothing of what is happening. And the tuna itself is impressive enough, all the more so when one has heard of its cultural/culinary and economic value before.
Herbs and spices and vegetables? They are much more likely to be overlooked and considered as cheap, even when they would have many a story to tell.