Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tsukiji Fish Market / Tokyo / Part 3

The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (東京都中央卸売市場 Tōkyō-to Chūō Oroshiuri Shijō?), commonly known as the Tsukiji Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō?), is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind (most of text is from Wikipedia)
 4am departure from hotel to view the market

 The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species.[3] Overall, more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood are handled every year at the three seafood markets in Tokyo, with a total value in excess of 600 billion yen (approximately 5.9 billion US dollars on November 24th, 2013). The number of registered employees as of 25 January 2010 varies from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.

 Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyōsha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. 
 The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. 

The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price.
 These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gyōsha) who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

 market from above

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-hōchōmaguro-bōchō, or hanchō-hōchō.

 processing tuna / slips of paper above are orders from restaurants

The Tsukiji fish market occupies valuable real estate close to the center of the city. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has repeatedly called for moving the market to ToyosuKoto,[12] with construction of the new market to begin in 2013 for completion in 2014.[13] The new location has been criticized for being heavily polluted and in need of cleanup.[14] There are plans to retain a retail market, roughly a quarter of the current operation, in Tsukiji.[13]

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Great Adventure / Japan Part 1

Having just returned from a great adventure, I decided that this blog would be a great place to share some of the inspiration that I received from my latest trip to Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan. I am short on time but keep thinking about all the amazing experiences I had so will try to share....

Not sure if you are familiar with term Wabi Sabi, but there is a wonderful book, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers that you can find on Amazon.

The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.
-architect Tadao Ando

"Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent."

Here are a few visuals that I found really inspiring. Not sure how they will be incorporated into my work...will need to wait and see.