Welcome to the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world. And fish aren’t the only critters for sale you’ll see. This place is basically a mini-city of fishermen preparing and selling a plethora of sea creatures, I was basically on sea life overload for the hour and half I spent walking through the market with my Japanese advisor and labmates. Some people were shopping for their dinner or stocking up their restaurant, but the animals we were in search of would end up on the lab bench.
My advisor was in search of cuttlefish for the students in a class he was teaching to dissect. A cuttlefish is a kind of mollusk in the same group as octopuses, squid, and nautilus, the cephalopods.
One of my labmates was also keeping her eyes out for members of the species she studies, the bloody clam, from regions she doesn’t have samples from and more distant regions , like Russia. We saw lots of bloody clams, which are commonly eaten here, but none were from the regions she was looking for.
Along the way, we saw just about every body shape, from the expected fusiform (cigar-like) shape of huge tunas, to long skinny eels and barracuda-like fish, to heart shaped sea squirts, bulbous testes from blowfish, lantern-shaped squid and octopuses, sea cucumbers, large colorful shimp, and of course, lots of bivalves (clams, geoducks, scallops, etc) and gastropods including spiral-shaped ones and abalone.
After feasting our eyes and finding the best priced cuttlefish for the students to expand their minds, we decided to satisfy our stomachs with a 9am sushi breakfast, and my was it delicious (oishii in Japanese). This has definitely been the most interesting thing I’ve done since being in Tokyo and I definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to come here!