I had the oppurtunity to witness the tuna auction at Tokyo's Tsukiji Market. At the time of writing general tourists are not able to get inside to see the auction, so I was very fortunate to get the chance.
While the rest of Tokyo sleeps, Tsukiji opens its doors for business in the early hours of the morning. At the centre of the massive market is the daily tuna auction, where hundreds of these large fish are ranked, graded and sold within as little as twenty minutes. The Tsukiji auction is by far the largest in the world, and will determine the global tuna value each day.
The auction begins with the fish being lined up and cleaned in preparation. Once the bell chimes, a frenzied and incomprehensible auction occurs in a whirlwind that is finished as quickly as it begins. The buyers, sellers and auctioneers communicate throughout proceedings in a bizarre language unique to the industry. Once all of the tuna have been sold they are loaded onto carts and transported round the rest of the market to be cut, or sent away across the city.
As Tokyo wakes up, the seemingly endless array of sushi restaurants will await the day’s highest quality tuna, all of which has come through Tsukiji’s doors that morning.