Tuna Wars pp 141-155 | Cite as

Tokyo’s Pantry

  • Steven Adolf


Anyone wanting to see the end of our tuna story on the southern coast of Spain must head for Tokyo. It was a little after four in the morning, making the entrance to Tsukiji market even darker, with its narrow alleys of shops for dried fish and seaweed and restaurants selling omelettes and noodle soup. Tokyo was still asleep, but the working day here was already in full swing. The first delivery vans were racing by. Small, manoeuvrable forklift trucks were starting up their fuming diesel engines. Traders parked their cars and shot past the burning lanterns into the Namiyoke Inari Shrine. The wooden building with its arbour breathed an oasis of peace amid the surrounding industrious activity. A large lion’s head guarded the entrance against evil spirits. Restaurateurs could offer their prayers here to a stone egg the height of a man, tuna traders had to make do with a sturdy slab of granite set up for the protective gods of sushi and sashimi. After washing their hands the visitors stomped into the shrine in their boots and pulled on thick cords to sound the bell and awaken the Shinto gods. Prices were good today and the turnover was worth the effort. Inside the labyrinthine market, Katsuji Suzuki made his way, clad in boots, taking long, confident strides to the narrow, slippery alleys between the fish stalls. He was loudly greeted from the shops, stalls, filleting tables and freezers. They consider Suzuki a good surname here on the market: it means seabass in Japanese. This 60-something-year-old, as tall as a tree, with wavy blue-grey hair, is an old celebrity on the market, so our walk was repeatedly interrupted. At one stall sesame biscuits were served, at another lengthy jokes were exchanged over the quality of fish he had recently bought. The personnel stopped filleting the tuna for a moment and smiled, long, flat knives in their hands.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Adolf
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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