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photographer in japan | volume 02 | issue 01 |

The main tuna auction gets underway at Tsukiji at 5.30am. Each of the fish you see here sells for around 800,000Yen or about $8000.

The tails of the tuna are chopped because that’s the place the buyers check the quality of the fish. This beast was about 4ft long.

Armed with a long-handled blade and a torch, each buyer walks the line of tuna to check the tail-slice for quality and freshness.

The pace of the auction is frenetic. Tourists and camerapeople beware. These folk take no prisoners. They are here for the fish and hate distractions.

One of the auction staff marks up the fish with the name of its buyer, before it is moved away from the auction to be flashfrozen and then cut.

‘It’s going over there...’ The auction foreman directs one of his staff as to where the tuna he is organising need to go next.

The auction almost over, the auctioneer’s bell lsits quiet and idle, ready for work again the next morning.

The last bit of frenetic activity is getting all the fish that have been bought off to be flashfrozen and then delivered to their buyers.

A can of coffee in his pocket, picks in hand, handkerchief on head: this is the archetypal Tsukiji auction worker.

Supremo indeed, this fish would fetch a good few Thousand Dollars. A worker barrows the fish to a cutting, dressing and distribution point.

Hard morning? You betcha! These guys are up early, lumping heavy, frozen fish around and back in bed before mist people are awake.

Heaving a barrow full of frozen fish the last few inches into the loading bay. I followed this fella fall the way across the market. Heavy work. His, not mine.

Fag in mouth, shaving the edges off of a huge slab of tuna that probably weighs-in as about $4000-worth. But don’t worry, nothing goes to waste.....

‘Ko, deshou’. Like this.... the tune starts to get processed down into more manageable and affordable chunks.

Wandering Tsukiji can be a truly mouthwatering excercise. Generally I get there way before I would normally have eaten my breakfast.....torture!

It may seem more like the kind of equipment you’d find in a sasmill, but the bandsaw is the preferred method of first cutting the mightily hard, frozen fish.

Chopping the huge lengths of fish into the sorts of sized chunks that restaurants will buy. It’s the first job once the carcasses arrive with the stallholders.

Much beauty to be found in Tsukiji: the colour, the texture and the smells. A full-frontal assault on all the senses... and all before breakfast-time.

Glowing red, this piece of tuna all cut and prepared - will soon find its way onto the desk of a sushi-master somewhere.

You can almost feel the purchase this chap is putting on that huge, long knife as he cuts this whole tuna in half. It’s an art, making sure waste is minimized.

‘Off with the head!’ Not a single piece of the tuna gets wasted. Heads will get used for stock or one of a half-dozen other things. The tuna’s final journey.

Cut, sliced, priced and waiting to be bought. This fine piece of maguro - tuna - awaits its buyer on one of the many stalls in the main marketplace.

I bet this old boy has some stories to tell. I watched him repeatedly haul boxes across the market the entire morning. Retirement? What’s that?

This photo does little justice towards describing the ballet the traffic directors at Tsukiji enact in their attempt to tame the melee of the market.

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Even in the streets of a fishmarket, one can find a little glamour. Out doing some early shopping, this lady cut quite a dash as she walked on by.

‘It was THIS big, honestly!’ Two of Tsukiji’s cooks wander down the street during a cigarette break. We may never know about the one that got away....

No, he’s not directing aircraft into their parking bays, rather dishing-out free fans on a very hot, humid July day at Tsukiji. Life-saving work, I assure you.

The bustling streets are one of the things I love the most about Tsukiji and I have a favourite spot to watch the action. Never a dull moment. Lots of faces to watch.

Exploring Tsukiji Fish Market  

Alfie Goodrich is a professional photojournalist living in Tokyo. In this issue of his own magazine, he explores the world-renowned Tsukiji...

Exploring Tsukiji Fish Market  

Alfie Goodrich is a professional photojournalist living in Tokyo. In this issue of his own magazine, he explores the world-renowned Tsukiji...